Images released today from an exclusive photo shoot for The Australian Women’s Weekly have certainly got everyone talking.
The iconic magazine’s latest photo shoot features Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who makes a departure from image and instead poses on a comfy chair, dog Reuben at her side, while knitting a toy kangaroo for the soon-to-be-born Royal Baby.
Mamamia’s publisher, Mia Freedman and Editor, Jamila Rizvi had vastly different reactions to the striking image. Here’s what they had to say…
JAMILA RIZVI, MAMAMIA EDITOR
Ugh. That was my reaction to the photos released today by the Australian Women’s Weekly, that will feature in their new edition, out tomorrow. And it’s a hard feeling to convey with any eloquence because it’s a complex and layered ‘ugh‘. But I’ll try.
I’m not one of the nasty grumbling types who thinks ‘politicians are paid to work for us, not waste their time making toy kangaroos. Why isn’t she in a briefing on Australia’s mission in Afghanistan. HUH?” Nor do I fall into the ‘knitting is anti-feminist, why is the Prime Minister posing like a 1950s house wife’ camp.
And as frustrated as I am that we don’t hear more in the media about the Gillard’s considerable achievements for Australian women (paid parental leave, record child care funding, greater protections under the Fair Work Act, anyone?) – I do understand that the public is interested in the human side of our politicians.
So about that. The Prime Minister knits. Good on her. I imagine it is both relaxing and satisfying to knit stuff.
Having failed Year 7 sewing myself, I could not say for sure.
For me, the imagery of the Prime Minister knitting is no different to Tony Abbott at the beach, Bob Brown bush walking or Kevin Rudd, I don’t know, stamp collecting. It’s part and parcel of politicians trying to show the electorate the non-professional side of their lives, which is often more endearing than the increasingly undignified nature of our political debate.
But the reason this particular photo of Gillard bothered me so much is because it made me remember (with deep, deep horror) the 2010 election debacle over the ‘Real Julia’.
Perhaps you recall it? For those who don’t: Our (then) exceedingly popular, well respected and newly appointed Prime Minister had her style, her tone and her manner of speaking completely hijacked by PR-types who ignored their opportunity to capitalise on her extensive appealing qualities and instead wanted Gillard to appear more traditionally ‘soft and feminine’.
Ugh. Moving forward, anyone?
A few weeks later, frustrated by her flailing election campaign and desperate to be herself again, the Prime Minister insisted the public would see a return to the ‘Real Julia’.