Value Yourself, and Wear Good Eye Shadow
Vale Ms June Dally Watkins. The Australian model and etiquette icon died with her family around her aged 92. I always had a soft spot for the ground- breaking business woman. I was sixteen with grand hopes to be a model so I saved up my check- out operator wage to pay the $120 fee to do her modelling, deportment and manners course back in 1989. It was some of the best money I ever spent as I was a gangly 6 foot teenager with frizzy hair who was a poor kid who really had no idea about what fork or spoon to use with what at the dinner table and certainly no idea that a crop top was not okay to wear to a job interview.
Ms Dally presented my certificate after I complete the course and pulled me aside to tell me my eye make up was “ghastly, darling” and told me to “take that chewing gum out of your mouth as it does not suit you to chew like a cow”. My eye shadow was green with glitter. Ms Dally (everyone called her that and everyone was slightly terrified of her) told me to wear “warm bronze colours to look far more elegant”. I did from that day onwards. I also swallowed my chewing gum on the spot. But best of all, I learnt a few lessons in handling blokes who may have been foul pigs around me. Ms Dally’s advice to our group was to simply say nothing if a guy made a rude joke in your presence. “Do not smile or laugh or even acknowledge the smutty remark has been made”, Ms Dally told a group of us. It sounds sexist and inadequate in today’s time doesn’t it, but it helped me get through the nineties working in media when blokes could be pretty sleazy.
I just needed to be told it was okay to not join in to try and be cool or part of the joke. I am not a person who loves confrontation so simply saying nothing was powerful advice for me because it was deafening. Try it. Sometimes (not always) silence is a weapon and gets the point across loud and clear.
Now that I am middle aged I would have the courage to tell someone if I was offended or to pull someone up if they were being sexist or racist or plain gross, but that naïve scrawny 16 year old me had no idea how to navigate the tricky rules of life.
Today of course thank God the #METOO movement means young women are taught to speak up and hopefully lesson the chance to be exploited but this was before times changed. I wonder who our teenagers will look up to for role models and to be taught it is okay to have values and morals. I sound about 150 years of age this week I know, but I worry our teen’s self worth is based on their sex appeal and their Instagram likes. Mind you my 9 year old has a few role models and they are pretty amazing. Bindi Irwin tops the list and you could not find someone who promotes kindness and compassion more than the local animal crusader.
The Lightning netball team are also heroes for my girl. Again, these girls have an amazing work ethic and beacons of our community in all areas. Billy Eilish refuses to wear next to nothing to keep the focus squarely on her music and stands out in a sea of young entertainers who all look and sound similar. In a world where we expect kids to grow up pretty fast and near-nudity is becoming the norm I will forever be thankful to Ms Dally for her large part in teaching me it is vital to value yourself. And wear good eye shadow.
– Sami xx