By MIA FREEDMAN
“Hello Mia, nice to see you. If you’d like to step this way, you’ll see your comfort zone over there on that couch covered in rainbows. Yes, I know it’s far away isn’t it? Squint and stand on one leg and tip your head sideways and you might be able to make it out way off in the distance. Now, follow me over here and see that rocket ship? We’d like you to jump into it so we can blast you into outer space.”
That slightly tortured metaphor is an accurate description of what it recently took to get me from this:
Shall I take you on my journey? Because, my friends, it was an epic journey and it started on a toilet.
Wait, before that. Let me rewind a bit further. A couple of months ago the first issue of a new magazine came out and I sat up and took notice. The founder / editor / publisher / creator / svengali of Renegade Collective is Lisa Messenger. Who happened to be my best friend when I was 12.
We’d lost touch since leaving school twenty years ago and it wasn’t until she launched the mag that our paths crossed again.
I had been blown away by what she’d done with this new magazine which she says is about “Game changers, thought leaders, rule breakers and style makers”. I thought there was a real freshness and unexpected gutsiness to the idea of swimming against the glossy tide and producing something that looked at what women (and some men) were doing with their lives and careers. So when we caught up for a cup of tea and Lisa asked me to be on the cover, I was surprised. And a bit torn, frankly.
My position on re-touching is well known. And I loathe having my photo taken. Going to shoots was always my least favourite part of being a magazine editor. Not much happens. It’s boring. If you’re the person being photographed, there are endless hours you must spend sitting quietly while your hair and make-up is done and then you have to try on endless outfits until the stylist and everyone else is happy with the way you look. There is a huge amount of poking and prodding and adjusting and WAITING AROUND. You get touched a lot.
My impatience and short concentration span are legendary among those I work with. And I find being the centre of attention in that way, excruciating.
If you’re not the one being shot, there’s a lot of standing around waiting for the model to be ready, for her skirt to be adjusted, the wispy bit in her hair sprayed again, her lipstick reapplied, her shiny forehead powdered, the photographer to adjust the lighting…and on and on and on until you stick a fork in your eye or 100 years pass, whichever comes first.
So I knew that deciding to do the cover would involve all of this as well as a very large bowl of Relingquishing Control. Was I prepared to abandon myself to the experience and allow the Collective team to create the cover they wanted?
I decided that yes, yes I was prepared to do it, so long as the images weren’t retouched. Lisa agreed to that immediately and the next thing I knew, I received a very detailed brief with many, many visual references so I could get my head around the look they had in mind. “The thing with our covers is that we always want to flip the way someone is usually portrayed and make them look totally different.”