Childish Thoughts with The Young Mummy

“I’m at that awkward age where half my friends are engaged and having babies and the other half are too drunk to even find their phones.”

This pretty much sums up where I’m at in life currently. I’m bordering on needing to consider that squeamish idea that I’m actually an adult now (Ugh!) whilst still desperately trying to hold onto the ‘carefree, no responsibilities, party animal persona’ of my teenage years, where I can simply fluff around in life with the mental assurance that everything will sort itself out, because someone else (Eg. My parents) will fix it. What beautiful years they were.

But now, friends, girls I went to school with and even my younger sister are all pregnant or have recently given birth to their first child and I’m left so confused as to when we took the steps from adolescents to adults. Apparently it happened and no one thought to tell me, or I was busy doing other important things… Like eating.

It has nonetheless, all started to get me thinking, ‘Should I be considering having a baby?’ (I’m sure my boyfriend just started hyperventilating.)

But how do you even know if you’re ready to have a baby? Are there any distinguishable signs? Will I just have a feeling? When should you start planning to fall pregnant? Does anyone really know? Should I even be thinking about this yet?!

So I called on someone that might know. Introducing, ‘The Young Mummy.’ Sophie Shaw is 23 years old from Melbourne, a very good friend and former roomie. We lived with Sophie and Jaryd for what feels like forever but was actually about six months when we lived in Melbourne. One night after a football function, we were all sitting on the couch (If it was anything like our usual nights, we were probably eating a few blocks of Crunchie chocolate and watching either Suits or some horrific scary movie that they would all bully me into watching) and with the world’s biggest smiles on their faces they told us they were expecting.

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Fast forward nine months and we were walking in to meet Soph and Jaryd’s baby for the very first time. I was being completely hyperemotional and ordering myself not to cry. As we entered the room my eyes were blurry and glassy and I was like a kid in a candy store… I was SO EXCITED for them and the adorable little human sleeping in the corner and we congratulated them and engaged in the kind of ‘You’ve just had a baby,’ small talk that friends do. Then about 10 minutes into our visit, shit got real (Pardon my expression). These two are friends you can count on to not sugarcoat a-single-thing and all of a sudden I was watching reenactments of Sophie’s epidural and the birthing process, listening to vivid explanations of the pain and looking at photos of Sophie’s placenta (Told you. No sugar coating.) Whatever we wanted to know, they told us quiet happily and very honestly. So I walked into the hospital on the verge of tears trying to tell myself not to cry with happiness, and I walked out a lovely shade of white, thinking I was never, ever going to do that.

Let it be known, I LOVE kids. I could spend hours on end with my partner’s nephews, but with Bobby it’s different. If I’m holding him I get incredibly nervous and I think it’s because it’s Sophie and Jaryd. This little being belongs to them and that makes it real. They’re about our age, they were the couple we used to drink and dance with until early hours of the morning and go out for Japanese with and eat Crunchie chocolate with and play stupid pranks on… And I think knowing that they were our age and basically in the same situation as us, it was quite confronting. This little cute ball of love could be ours just as it is theirs and to me, that made the possibility of pregnancy and being a parent seem like a possible reality.

Meeting Bobby

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Soph, what was your reaction when you found out you were pregnant?

It was exciting. Surreal. Probably not the reaction most 22 years olds have when they find out they’re expecting, but it was something I’d wanted for so long, I was in shock – but in a good way. Being told at 17 I was infertile due to an ovary condition… Well I’m like every woman, when they’re told they can’t have something they want it even more, and having a partner who was so paternal and wanted to be a young dad helped just a bit! People ask if we were trying, I wouldn’t say yes but we definitely weren’t doing anything to prevent it. Deep down we wanted it so bad but yes it’s still a nice big reality hit when it does happen.

Do you think at that moment, you and Jaryd were ready?

What I’ve learnt is that no matter how old you are, I don’t think anyone is really ready for their first child. You have have all your doctors appointments in check, nursery all ready, attend birthing classes, be as mentally prepared as possible… But to say you’re READY is a lie. Being a new mum is a huge learning curve and I’m adapting more and more everyday. We wanted kids so bad and knew it would be hard, but times it by 10 000 and that’s how hard it is. And I have a good baby!

Did you ever worry you weren’t ready?

Through out my pregnancy I battled a little bit (I blame hormones!) with how suddenly my life went on hold, yet Jaryd’s didn’t. The second I found out I was pregnant, my life basically stopped. I got SO sick, I stopped going to uni, stopped working, couldn’t play netball or hardly exercise, couldn’t bloody eat the food I wanted – Let alone the fact I couldn’t socialise with my friends like I used to. Yet nothing changed for Jaryd. It sounds funny but I did find that part really hard to get used to, that sometimes I just couldn’t do something and that was final. I wouldn’t say I stopped and thought “I’m not ready” cause I wanted the baby part so bad, just hated the pregnancy!

How has life changed since having a child?

How has life changed? I’ve found my purpose for living. I get told I’m nicer too. Having children opens up your eyes to a whole new world, and the way you look at things. The amount of times I see people having petty fights or getting so worked up over nothing, and I think ‘Shit I used to do that’ – Until you have a baby you can’t possibly understand how NOTHING else matters in the world but your child. You change. I’m a completely different person. To be honest, I just don’t give a fuck about anything anymore but Bobby & Jaryd. My family.

On a negative side… (And every mum out there will know what I mean here) people pick and choose when they want to see you. And it’s because they no longer want to see you, they just want to see your baby. I 100% expected that to happen, it’s just life, and I don’t be nasty about it. I just let it go because they will soon know what it feels like the day they have babies.

What’s your advice to anyone considering trying to become pregnant?

Do it! It’s the best f**king thing you’ll ever do. Jaryd and I say EVERYDAY “What the hell did we do before Bobby came along?”

When it comes to knowing when you are ready, as Soph said, I don’t think there ever is a time or a sign that you are ready and I don’t think anyone, regardless of age, will ever feel like they are ready. It sounds like it will be an incredible experience and an amazing journey, but I think if you want, be unapologetically selfish about finding contentment with yourself and your life first, before you dedicate your entire being to someone else. Maybe you want to travel, maybe you want to achieve certain career milestones or maybe your child will be what brings you contentment. We’re all different and we all want different things. But whatever it is, do it and trust that a combination of your actions and fate will work the rest out.

When this conversation ever pops up with my man he tells me, “We aren’t ready. We have shit to do,” (Pardon his expression) and I used to just roll my eyes at him and think ‘Sigh! Men and commitment.’ But he is so right, and I don’t admit that very often.

I have too many semi-selfish things I want to do and achieve, places I want to go and see and memories I want to create, either on my own, with my partner or with my friends. They may be things I could do whilst being a Mother, but I want to give my heart and soul and entire existence into completing everything I want to do and then maybe one day in the future, I will feel content and ready to dedicate myself, my heart and soul and entire existence to nurturing another life. Maybe becoming a parent will happen unexpectedly and I will surprise myself but for now, I’m happy to continue holding onto every single little piece of my youth for as long as I can. But to the superwomen (and men!) that have kids I salute you, and I’ll totally babysit anytime you want! Practice makes perfect right?

So you can calm that breathing down and relax, Laids. I don’t plan on singing any ‘my lovely baby bump’ song in our household anytime soon.

P.S. Soph blogs here, Instagram’s here, and tweets here. It’s usually either really cute or really funny.

Special thanks to Soph, Jaryd and Bobby for being the inspiration behind this post (You look at this face and consider having a baby, right?)

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The life of a Travel Magazine Editor

I’ll start off by saying that this was probably my most favourite interview ever. Why, you ask? Georgia Rickard, in addition to being the editor of Australian Traveller Magazine, great friend, occasional life mentor and not so occasional exercise buddy (whoops), easily sits in the top 10 of my most favourite writers. I find her hilarious. In fact I often annoy my boyfriend by lying beside him late at night giggling hysterically at one of her blogs or Facebook posts, whilst he’s trying to sleep (whoops again). It should be no surprise to anyone then that as I read back her answers to my questions, which included links to the aforementioned hilarious blog, I was smiling and chuckling the entire time. I expect you will do the same.

Now whilst I adore G, her advice, uncanny wit and sense of sarcasm, following her on Instagram can at times, lead to jealous thoughts. To explain:

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Georgia in the Hayman Islands

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Georgia in the Kimberley region

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Georgia still in the Kimberley region

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Georgia in Tulum, Mexico

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Georgia in Nicaragua

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Georgia on Whitehaven Beach

Amazing, right? That’s her JOB. She gets PAID to go to these places! You’re now permitted to have a brief ‘Omg I can’t even!’ moment…

I spoke to Georgia about her journey to obtaining what is quite possibly the world’s most incredible job and her advice for achieving your own success.

Pens and paper out, you’ll want to take notes.

Editor of Australian Traveller – it sounds (and looks – I stalk your Instagram) like the perfect job! How did you get here? 

Uh… Wow. That’s a big question! Let me preface my answer – which I hope you’re ready for! – with the statement that I really, reeeeeally didn’t expect to end up editing a travel magazine. (I actually thought I was going to be a celebrity reporter for E! News, but that’s another story…) I always knew I liked writing, though, and in Year 10 I did work experience at Channel Seven. Until then I thought I was going to become a lawyer, but from that point on I decided I was going to do a Communications degree when I made it to uni, and become a writer. By the time I graduated from high school however, I’d convinced myself that I’d never become a famous writer – seriously, that whole cliché of a small-time journalist working for the local rag, driving a beat-up Datsun? I was terrified of becoming that – so I did Communications (at UTS), but majored in Advertising instead.

Man, what a drag. I hated it!  (‘P’s made my degree, for sure.)

Fast forward through a couple of internships, a gap year in France and several interviews for roles with PR agencies – which was *like* being a journalist, I’d decided, but seemed to involve getting paid – and I accepted a role working in…. recruitment! (Yes, weird, I know.)

Basically, I’d applied for a role with a PR firm through a recruitment agency, and the recruiters asked me to work for them instead. The job wasn’t for me (surprise!), but over the course of the ten months I lasted at that company, I learnt so, so, so much. They had a very aggressive sales culture, so I learnt how to pick up the phone, cold call absolutely anyone, convince them to meet with me and then sell them our services. Can you imagine? It called for some major confidence, and I had some seeeeriously uncomfortable phone conversations, but it taught me something awesome: you can fake confidence until you make it. (Truly.)

When I quit, I took my newfound cold calling skills and applied them to journalism; picking up the phone and cold calling editors. Within three months, I had commissions with CosmopolitanCLEOWomen’s Health and the Sunday Telegraph. Within four months, I was earning enough to move out of home. I was 22 at that point. That was seven years ago.

What was the most important lesson you learnt from that experience?

Well, there were a few. Probably the best lesson – and the one I try to share most often with people – is that horrible situations (read: unhappy first jobs) are often blessings in disguise. If I hadn’t worked in recruitment (seriously, it was So. Not. Me.), I’d probably never have been unhappy enough to do something so drastic as to quit, reinvent myself and start a second career.

The second part of the story – which I haven’t told you about yet (see, I told you it was a long answer) – was that, just nine months into my new writing career, I was actually tapped on the shoulder by the publisher of a magazine called Healthy Food Guide. I’d written one (one!) article for them, and they’d liked it so much that they wanted to know if I’d be interested in applying for the editorship there. It was one of those outrageous, this-sort-of-stuff-doesn’t-happen kind of moments…. Especially when I got the job! So the second lesson was to always, always, always do the best job you can with what’s in front of you. You just never know who’s watching.

My new boss, Danielle Tibbles, also just happened to have previously been the editor, and/or publisher of some of Australia’s biggest and shiniest magazines, like delicious., VOGUE Entertaining + Travel, and superfood ideas, and she poured everything she knew into me. Suddenly I was embroiled in the world of managing budgets, planning cover shoots, staff appraisals and talking on live television about feeding fussy toddlers (check out how terrified I look! I was only 23, poor thing).

When I finished up there… wow. I was 25 and I floated around for a couple of years, suffering from a massive quarter life crisis – editing a magazine had turned out to be a hugely stressful role, and after two and a bit years, I wasn’t quite sure if that was my dream job after all. Actually, I had no idea what my ‘dream job’ looked like.

So I wrote a book, undertook all sorts of freelance roles (including one at the TODAY show during a brief stint where I thought I wanted to work in TV), and then one day I received an email from the publisher of Australian Traveller. Would I be interested in working there? Nope, I said. I was going to be on TV (E! News, remember?). But I’d ‘help out’, while they looked for a new editor. And I just fell in love with the job. That was two and a half years ago.

So my next lesson? Give up on looking for the ‘perfect’ job. If I’d kept chasing what I thought was my ‘dream job’, I’d have missed out on my dream job.

What does an average day at the office/ whatever amazing location you are at, usually involve?

Honestly? It varies so much. Some of the things I do sound glamorous (interviewing celebrities, going to launch parties, travelling…) but are actually a lot of hard work. Some things sound a lot less glamorous (dealing with celebrities’ managers and agents, replying to emails, picking destinations to shoot covers at, brainstorming feature ideas and cover lines, replying to emails, commissioning articles, replying to emails, image research, replying to emails, writing briefs, writing stories, replying to emails, and replying to emails) and are also a lot of hard work. When I’m travelling, I’m ‘on’ all the time. It’s not a holiday. You’re madly taking notes, mentally crafting the story, shooting images, asking questions, learning, learning, learning, and all while trying to juggle your full time job (and full-time inbox) which is waiting for you back at the office.

Of course, there are still moments when I look around and think, holy crap, this is MY JOBMYLIFEISAMAZING, and I think my friends would never forgive me if I didn’t admit that some parts of it are pretty awesome (“oh hey George, you free to come sit on my couch this Friday night and eat cheese?” “Not this weekend, friend, I’ve got an island that needs visiting”)… but don’t think it’s not hard work. In fact, that’s a lesson in itself: never chase a job for the perks it comes with – you’ll end up miserable. Accept a job that you’ll love regardless of whether there’s perks or not, then you’ll do a good job regardless. And, when the perks come (and they will, if you’re doing a good job, regardless of the industry you’re in – trust me), they’ll never run out.

How frequently do you travel for work?

It varies. I try not to travel more than one week, out of every four. But that doesn’t always work – this month (August) I have three trips to take, last month (July) I took none, and I was out of the office for the entire month, bar three days of June. Hashtag busy. (Hashtag lame. Who even speaks like that? Sorry.)

So far, your favourite destination work has taken you is…

Can I split it three ways? OK, well I’m going to, even though you haven’t actually agreed to that. (Thank you.)

1. The world’s most travelled man actually reckons Lord Howe Island – which is just two hours from Sydney, dammit! – is ‘paradise on earth’. He’s right. GO THERE.

2. The Kimberley, which is the entire top-left-hand corner of Australia, is unbelieeeeevable. Some 2600 unnamed islands off the coastline, freshwater swimming holes galore, billion-year-old rockfaces, gorges, and all within one of the world’s last great wilderness frontiers. It’s so wild and rugged and honestly, there’s this real sense of soulfulness about the place. It’ll make you fall in love with Australia. No words.

3. The Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Never heard of them? Neither has anyone else, which is A Very Good Thing, because they’re freaking stunning and I’m hoping that they stay a secret forever. (Honestly. If you don’t believe me, Google them…) And in the meantime, here’s a fun new fact for you – they’re actually part of Australia, even though they’re halfway to Africa. One for your vision board, pronto!

What are your top three tips for anyone hoping to get into the print/ media industry? 

* Firstly, don’t overestimate the competition. Someone has to have that job you want so badly, and the people who already do are just ordinary people like you or me. There’s no reason why you don’t have a chance – you do! So believe that it’s possible.

* Secondly, don’t underestimate the competition. People will do some pretty crazy things to get a job in media, and with good reason – they’re really, really fun! (Hard work not withstanding, remember…) Live it, breathe it, love it. Learn everything you can about the company and the people you want to work for, be passionate about their products, and be persistent. When I quit recruitment for writing, I bought every single magazine I was interested in writing for and spent hours upon hours staring at those pages, memorising bylines, studying who worked for who, whose names were on the masthead (ie as permanent employees of the magazine) and whose belonged to freelance writers, what sort of stories each magazine seemed to feature most often… People notice that kind of passion, and those are the people who get the jobs. Passion persuades. Tenacity triumphs. Etc.

* Thirdly – don’t let perfection stand in your way. Remember, ‘done’ is better than perfect. Nowhere does that apply more than with your resume. It will never be perfect, and you’ll get more than one chance to send a resume anyway. Give it your best shot, then let it go. (Though by the same token, make sure it’s spell-checked, concise and cleverly written – you are going into an industry built around the written word, after all.)

* Fourthly – this is assuming you’ve already read the other seventy-five ‘lessons’ I’ve shared with you earlier, which also count as top tips – remember that success doesn’t go in a straight line. And if you can’t remember that, google image search that sentence, print out a copy of the diagram, and stick it somewhere to remind you.

* And finally – I know I’m well past three tips, but I couldn’t help myself – come to one of my workshops. I don’t usually run courses on how to nab your dream job, because hey, having nabbed my own I’m rather busy, but the founders of thesuccess are good friends and hey, they’re actually pretty good fun. I understand their website is actually being rebuilt at the moment, but you can email me directly and I’ll send you all required details.

And just because I’m sure now a few people will be interested… does Australian Traveller take interns? And so if, how frequently?

We do – in fact we have a full-to-bursting roster! Internships happen in two-week blocks on a year-round basis, and we offer spots for both budding writers and photographers. If you’re keen to apply, you’ll need to get in contact with our chief sub-editor, Megan Arkinstall. And that’s as many clues as I’ll give you…

Feel inspired? FYI I’ve already nominated myself first in line for the position of personal assistant and/ or bag handler, so don’t even think about it.

Special thanks to Georgia for this post.

Keep up to date with her totally fabulous adventures here, here and here.

Face Value- The Experts

Anyone that knows me, knows I battle with my skin in a major way. It’s very much a love-hate relationship where every now and again certain areas of my face, namely my chin, underneath my nose and sometimes my forehead resemble the Himalayan mountain ranges. I battled with the occasional break out early on when I was 15/16 and when I moved from Brisbane to Melbourne 2 years ago and started breaking out like never before, I was completely baffled.

Now, I might be slightly exaggerating when I use a comparison to mountain ranges and I certainly didn’t have the worst acne around but it was bad. I was wearing mass amounts of make up all the time. I had just started seeing my boyfriend, so I was wearing full faces of foundation to bed because I was so embarrassed and even to the gym. I know what you’re thinking, that was obviously never going to help, but my confidence was shattered and as a model, affected my work… To the point where after I’d done a job, my booker would call to tell me my rate was being reduced because the client apparently had to pay for extra retouching (That actually happened. And I cried).

It’s taken some experimenting and trialling various products and suggested regimes to finally get it under control and I firmly believe that there are three key elements that have got me and my skin happy once again: Clinical advice and treatments, correctly using the right products and supplements/ vitamins. With that in mind, please allow me to introduce the incredible ladies at Minoo’s! I was introduced to the team by Helen Reizer, who knew of my skin struggle thought we would be a match made in heaven. Minoo’s made it their personal mission to restore my skin and even now in Sydney, I still contact them for advice and for product. I spoke with the ladies at Minoo’s about the common causes of acne particularly and the mistakes that we often unknowingly make in trying to treat it.

What are some of the key causes of acne?

There are several cause of acne most commonly are hormonal influences. Sebum and dead skin cells gather within the pore causing inflammation, papules and pustules.

What are some of the most common mistakes you see people making in an attempt to treat acne?

Often people with acne over cleanse and pick their skin in an attempt to remove oil and pustules. This classic mistake impairs the skins barrier function and spreads bacteria by disturbing the skins acid mantel (a slightly acidic film on the surface of the skin that provides barrier protection from bacteria and potential contaminants that may penetrate and damage the skin).

What are some of the treatments you offer and recommend?

Improving the skins barrier function (strength and hydration) using gentle homecare and lactic acid peeling procedures are usually required before progressing to stronger homecare and clinical treatments.

(FYI- This was me. I had been using Proactiv- I know you’re probably shaking your head and screaming “WHY?!” but when you’re desperate, you try everything- and as a result, had basically stripped my skin of any/all natural oils our skin produces and needs. The ladies recommended a course of products to use for 3-4 weeks prior to starting any clinical treatments and just that produced a remarkable difference in my skin.)

Active homecare particularly alpha and beta hydroxy acids found in treatment serums, masks and moisturisers are very effective at reducing sebum, bacteria and dead skin cells within the pores and improve the appearance of acne.

A course of superficial chemical peeling procedures particularly salicylic acid peels penetrate the congested pore and help to remove sebum, bacteria and dead skin cells. Chemical peeling procedures preformed at monthly intervals significantly reduce the severity of acne lesions and aid in maintaining a clear completion. In addition, we recommend the use of active homecare in order to achieve optimal results.

I experienced a variety of different treatments, all planned and scheduled especially for my skin and how it was progressing. In addition, just to credit how intelligent these women are, I also had different vitamins and supplements recommended to help from the inside out. I can now, very excitedly say, that I don’t wear make up at home, to bed or the gym, often leave the house without makeup and don’t need to apply 50 000 filters to my photos (fine, selfies) anymore! Hooray!

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Sneaky selfie during one of my visits to Minoo’s!

Dermal therapists, experts, magicians, whatever you want to call them, I credit them for saving my skin and I cannot thank them enough. To find out more about the amazing ladies at Minoo’s, you can visit their website, their Facebook or their Twitter to get in contact- which I highly recommend you do. Tell them I sent you and give them a huge cuddle from me!

Model Moment: Brooke Hogan

With Australia’s Next Top Model announcing audition dates for their latest season today, I thought it was perfect timing to chat with the beauty that is Brooke Hogan. A popular contestant in last season’s competition and a former Miss World Australia runner up, Brooke’s star is only continuing to shine brighter and brighter in the modelling world and she is just as humble and down-to-earth as she is gorgeous.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Brooke on multiple occasions and the success she is experiencing could quite literally not come to anyone more deserving. I spoke with Brooke about the roller coaster ride that was ANTM and how life has changed for her since…

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How would you describe your experience on the show?
ANTM was honestly one of the best experiences of my life so far. I learnt so much about myself and I gained so much confidence. I have grown as a person and as a model and I have nothing but positive things to say about the whole experience.


Has life changed since appearing on the show?
Life has definitely changed! I have modelled on and off since I was around 16 but ever since the show ended, I have been super super busy. I signed with Viviens Models in Melbourne & I have been given the opportunity to work for some pretty amazing clients.


What does an average week involve for you?
Every week for me is different, that is the fun part! An average week for me would be a mixture of photo shoots & castings. For example… Last week involved a short catalogue shoot for Spotlight on Monday, Tuesday I shot the Sass campaign, Wednesday I shot for Sportsgirl, Thursday I worked for a client called Hunted Dreams and on Friday I had two castings. It was a pretty busy week for me but like I said, it changes every week. Some weeks I will work everyday and others I will only have 2-3 days. When I am not working I am spending time with my boyfriend, catching up with family & friends, yoga & shopping. (P.S. Brooke’s Instagram account can be found here. You won’t be disappointed.)


What are some of your best beauty/ body secrets?
I have always tried to take good care of my skin. I make sure I cleanse my face every morning and night. It is important for me to have good facial products and recently was introduced to ‘Alpha-H’ skincare range which is amazing and does wonders for your skin! I try to exercise most days but with my job it is often hard to get into routine. I am NOT a morning person whatsoever so I exercise mostly at night. Eating healthy (most of the time) & drinking a lot of water is super important as well.


What has been your career highlight so far?
The ANTM experience… Everything about it!


What advice would you give to girls looking to get into the industry? 
I have a lot of young girls emailing me asking for tips on how to be a model and how to get into the industry & it is SO difficult to answer. The best answer would be to find some agencies in your area, approach them & see what they have to say. They will tell you if they want to represent you and if they think you are suitable. The industry is very competitive, so my advice for any girl getting into the industry would definitely be: Be confident in yourself! You will have people that LOVE your look and some that don’t. You need to remember to be yourself & to be happy about it. Truth is, everybody is beautiful in their own way & I am a firm believer in inner beauty making you shine brighter on the outside.


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Are you Australia’s Next Top Model? Audition dates here!
Image Credit | Fox 8, Peter Soulis, Vivien’s Model Management.

 

Vanity Fair Italia celebrates the World Cup

This shoot first came to my attention when it appeared in the Daily Telegraph this morning and within seconds, I had developed an overwhelming girl-crush on Kristina Romanova. Is she not absolutely ridiculous? I’m also now incredibly keen to try this ‘high, curly ponytail complete with red hair ribbon and red lipstick’ combo she’s rocking in the last image (I’ll take her abs in the last photo as well, while I’m at it). Of course, a little shirtless Stenmark never hurt anyone either. You-are-welcome.

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Photo Diary: Miss World Australia NSW Finals in the Hunter Valley

I’ve officially been in Sydney for six months now and haven’t really explored my new home of NSW yet, so when an invitation to host the Miss World Australia NSW State Finals in the Hunter Valley arose, it took me approximately 0.45 seconds to accept! We traveled the 2 hours to Oaks Cypress Lakes on the Saturday and although we were due to leave the following afternoon, I automatically wanted to say for at least a week!

Before the formalities began, Saturday afternoon was spent reuniting with the Miss World Australia board at a cellar door tasting at Wandin Valley Estate… We were in wine country after all! Conversations with various staff members both at Wandin and Oaks made it clear that a full day tour is needed to really get the full Hunter Valley experience, so I’m already planning our next trip back. Watch this space for that post!

Sunday morning was full of rehearsals while my other half checked out the driving range and golf course available on the grounds at Oaks (FYI he recommends you check it out if you are a golfing enthusiast as he is). Later, that afternoon, 35 girls took to the stage in attempt to take a place in July’s national final, where one girl will take home the crown and the title of Miss World Australia 2014. After the longest deliberation so far this year, 11 NSW national finalists were selected.

The challenge has now been set though, by the very fabulous Peter Sereno of Dear Pageant Girl: “As we come to the end of our state finals, I believe it’s only fitting for me to share my thoughts as an industry observer and a close friend of the Miss World Australia organisation….to read you all the riot act. For some reason I get the impression that not enough research has been done on the in’s and out’s of the Miss World organisation and what happens during the competition. Secondly, I am still waiting for the ONE contestant that stands out and convinces me that SHE is right for the crown. Treat every competition like you’re competing in the finals. If you can’t convince us, then how do you expect to convince the international panel? If you did your research you will know that your work started at HEATS.”

Congratulations are due: Firstly, to all finalists of Miss World Australia this year, who have to date raised $70 000 for Variety, the Children’s Charity.  Secondly, to board director Dale Reeves, who took part in the 26 day, 4 000km cycle and raised $10 000 for Variety in the process. My legs hurt just thinking about that. Lastly, the Miss World Australia organisation Dash, Steph, Dale and Harold for organising an incredible pageant this year. A big thank you goes to Helen Ciccone from Hair By Ciccone for saving me and my hair and love to Frank for, you know, just being Frank!

We popped in at Cellar Door at Lamboch Estate on our way home to pick up a few souvenirs of the red variety (Would have been rude not to). Tip: If you’re in the area, their signature Shiraz is best described with the hearts for eyes iPhone emoticon. with the  There really is nothing like sitting in the lush Hunter scenery, rugged up in the chill of the early winter months, as the sun sets, by an open fire with a glass of red in hand. Absolute-bliss! Oaks Cypress Lakes I will most definitely be back, especially considering I still have that nearby Golden Door Day Spa to visit! You’re all invited to join me.

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