lifestyle

In an industry that retouches even supermodels, this cover deserves a round of applause.

You’re about to see the most striking, important photograph to appear on the front cover of an Australian magazine. Ever.

Well done, Australian Women’s Weekly, for putting Turia Pitt on the cover of your July issue. It’s an image – and a decision – that’s made us feel unexpectedly emotional.

Turia Pitt is brave, we know that for sure.

She survived unimaginable pain with such grace and tenacity after being caught up in a bushfire with several other runners during a marathon in Western Australia in September 2011 and surviving burns to 65 percent of her body.

Since then, we’ve all followed her remarkable recovery and her extraordinary courage in regaining her strength and her life.  Every person who meets Turia swears that she is the most amazing person they’ve ever met.

Even so, she’s not a natural for a magazine cover.

This is an industry that retouches even the most physically perfect women. Models, actresses and reality stars usually, whose careers are defined by their physical beauty. It’s an industry that routinely reviles anyone older than 25, larger than a size 8 or with any form of imperfection. An industry where it’s still a big deal to put a black woman on the front cover or even on its inside pages.

Magazines trade on aspiration and glamour, which usually means putting a flawless, fake photograph of someone whose job is to be professionally beautiful. That’s why you’ll see this cover sitting alongside others at the supermarket, featuring a half-dressed Katy Perry, a Photoshopped Miranda Kerr and a handful of Kardashians.

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Turia Pitt before the accident.

And yet. Here’s Turia Pitt. On the cover of AWW.

Beautiful, strong, brave – and physically scarred. Visibly scarred, but refusing to be defined by it.

A young woman who used to model, before 64% of her body was burned and covered in a thick black body stocking. A young woman who knew what it was to be aesthetically close to perfection, and have it taken from her.

By putting Turia on the cover of Australia’s highest selling and most iconic magazine, Australian Women’s Weekly editor, Helen McCabe took a bold decision to celebrate a different kind of beauty, a different kind of achievement.

And in doing so, she will put the beautiful Turia Pitt in every supermarket and newsagent in Australia and on hundreds of thousands of coffee tables around the country.

The knock-on effect will be profound.

It will start conversations among people – especially curious children – who will want to know what happened to Turia. And it will give parents a chance to talk to their kids about bravery and strength and courage and about beauty being so much more than what you see on the outside.

By putting Turia on the cover of AWW, the magazine has given a gift to everyone who doesn’t look like a supermodel and who believes beauty is more than skin deep. And for that, we should show our support when the issue goes on sale this Thursday.

Here are some photos from Turia Pitt’s Instagram, in case you want to spend a little more time with her (we suspect that you will because she’s a fabulous lady). 

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