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There’s no denying it; Ita Buttrose is a woman who has charged through life with a signature style.
She’s confident, eloquent, whip smart and resilient. Case in point? At age 73, she’s still doing. A lot. She’s National President of Alzheimer’s Australia, an author, businesswoman, ambassador for OPSM’s Style At Every Age campaign, and entrepreneur. And Ita has some life and style wisdom she’d like to impart. Lucky us.
You fell pregnant with your first son Ben around the launch of Cleo magazine in 1972. As a woman at that time, that could have potentially been a career ending thing, but it wasn’t for you, why?
“Because I wouldn’t go home. [Laughs]. They had really odd ideas about being pregnant back in those dark ages. I think, they thought it was some kind of illness, you know? And then they realised I was really well, that my brain was still functioning, and that I was still able to pitch to the magazine. Nothing altered.”
What was it like being a pregnant woman in the office around that time?
“One day I was at a board meeting and Ben [Ita’s son] was kicking around in my stomach and my frock was moving. I was talking and suddenly I realised all the men at the board panel, because I was the only woman, were staring fascinated at my stomach!
“The general manager of the company at the time said to me, ‘Could I feel it?’, and I said, ‘Yes, that would be alright’, and he put his hands out on my tummy and the look of his face was spectacular.You’ve got to remember men were kept away from these things - men didn’t even go into the birth room with you back then. They were really kept very distant. So, I think I helped educate the chaps.”
A lot of young women these days have a tendency to say “sorry” and apologise for everything. Have you noticed this?
“It’s a wretched little word, ‘sorry’ is. Yes well, my daughter had that habit of saying ‘sorry’ and I would say to her, ‘what are you sorry for? What’ve you done?’ And I think I’ve eradicated the word from her vocabulary now.” (Post continues after gallery.)
It’s so bad isn’t it - why do we do it?
“We’re being polite of course, but we need to find another word, you know? So we might say, ‘Sorry to interrupt’, but we could say, ‘I’m going to interrupt you just for a sec to ask you something’. You’re saying the same thing, but without that word. ‘Sorry’ should be treated as a word, a word that one shouldn’t use, it’s an unacceptable word, like a swear word.”