There has been much fuss in the media of late, applauding the trend of putting “real women” on the covers of our magazines in a bid to promote positive body image. Think Sarah Murdoch without air-brushing, or Jennifer Hawkins posing nude. Never mind the fact that Sarah and Jen are both supermodels to begin with! You have to wonder that if they need their flaws disguised or erased, what hope is there for the rest of us mere mortals?

Footprints mystery cover

SEARCH FOR A COVERGIRL: Footprints magazine is looking for a "real woman" to put on its cover as it marks its 50th issue.

 

"In this small way, we can demonstrate to our readers - and Australia at large - that true beauty comes from within, and is best revealed in a passion for life."

Like many readers, I am rather cynical about this abrupt departure from the usual idealised images. Despite the media patting itself on the back, I can’t help wondering...Where are the real women on our magazine covers? The women of different ethnic origin? The ladies with killer curves? The women in the 50 plus age bracket? Are they not considered attractive enough to appear on a magazine cover?

Is it any wonder that ordinary women struggle with an inferiority complex when they compare themselves to the seemingly perfect women in glossy pages or on the silver screen? As a young woman, I never had any real confidence in my looks, and would compare myself unfavourably with the models in magazines, as well as other girls at my school or youth group. The list of complaints about my appearance was endless: I had acne, my nose was fat and “ugly”; my ears were too big; my lips too thin; I couldn’t grow my nails; I had knobby knees; my teeth weren’t white enough...

Now I look back at photos of my younger self, and realise I was much prettier than I thought at the time.

Today I am a lot more at peace with my face and figure. A lot of the things that used to bug me about my appearance haven’t changed (I still can’t grow my nails!); others, like my nose, I have grown into. I’ll never be a supermodel but that’s okay. I’ve learnt how to make the most of my assets, and minimise my flaws - when and ifI want to, say, for a special occasion. Yes, there are a few more lines on my face, and my arms are not as toned as they once were. But I have a sneaking suspicion that in twenty years time I will look back and think, “I looked pretty hot when I was in my 40’s”!

As a mature Christian woman, my passion is to encourage others to seek and follow the Lord Jesus Christ in every area of their lives, including that of self-esteem and body image. As the editor of Footprints magazine for Christian women, one of the most powerful tools at my disposal is our cover. Ever since we upgraded to a glossy colour cover in 2005, we have featured a series of real Aussie women of all shapes, sizes, ages and nationalities from my hometown in Queensland.

Not wanting the rest of Australia to feel left out, we are hosting a “cover competition” to celebrate our upcoming 50th issue. But this is NOT your typical “cover” comp! Forget the suggestive poses and petulant pouts which are the model’s standard stock in trade. The winning image in this competition will feature a woman enjoying life to the full (John 10:10), someone who shines with the love of Jesus (Philippians 2: 15). We’re looking for a picture that captures the subject’s inner beauty and charm.

It is our hope that our readers will submit pictures of the beautiful women in their lives – sisters, grandmas, neighbours, friends - if not of themselves. Rather than posed studio shots, we want to see favourite candid snaps of women.  

In this small way, we can demonstrate to our readers - and Australia at large - that true beauty comes from within, and is best revealed in a passion for life.

Janet Camilleri is the editor of Footprints magazine. The magazine is looking for a "real" woman for its cover to mark the 50th issue of Footprints. The winning image will feature "a woman enjoying life to the full (John 10: 10), someone who shines with the love of Jesus (Philippians 2:15). Accordingly, women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and nationalities are invited to enter." Competition closes 28 February 2010. For more details, head to www.footprintsaustralia.com.