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my latest role model

I have a new role model. That person is Julie Goodwin.

I never watched Masterchef and only vaguely knew of her through her appearances in some women’s magazines and on cooking segments on TV, but she first came to my attention a little while ago when, instead of joining up with Jenny Craig and spruiking their products, she declined the offer, saying she was happy with herself and her body, and she would rather donate that amount of money to charity.

She again came up on my radar the other night when I noticed a flurry of people tweeting about her. A gossip columnist had written about a recent swimsuit fashion story Julie had taken part in, along with various other celebs in an Australian woman’s magazine. The columnist was rude and disparaging of someone of Julie’s weight appearing in her bathers in a national magazine. The columnist questioned Julie’s health and the message she was sending to Australia and her children. The columnist worried.

If this were me being written about, I would probably not have reacted in such a calm way as Julie did. She wrote a very thoughtful rebuttal against this post on her blog – here it is:

Why did I get in my cozzies? I did it for all the little teapots out there – short and stout. And for anyone else who feels judged critically by other people. We should all be able to be comfortable in our own skin despite what uninformed media commentators write. I celebrate the differences between people. I try very hard not to judge people by the way they look – because nobody knows anyone else’s full story.

She’s absolutely right. The reality is we don’t know the health of any person, celebrity or non-celebrity, woman or man. The only person who knows what their health is is, funnily enough, the person themselves and the doctors they choose to visit. The only thing you can tell about a fat person is that they are fat. That’s it.

I applaud Goodwin for getting in her swimmers and posing with other people in a national magazine. I don’t think brave is the right word, but it’s definitely showing an element of fearlessness. I applaud her for handling criticism of her body with class. I applaud her for handling criticism of her parenting techniques and lessons she’s teaching her children with the utmost grace, when I would not blame her for flying off the handle:

As far as what I owe to myself and my children, I owe them food that is cooked from scratch, using as many fresh ingredients and as few additives as possible. I owe them mealtimes around the family table. I owe them the very best of myself, which includes (but is not limited to) keeping myself healthy via plenty of exercise, fresh air, fresh food and laughter. I owe them a broad world view and an education that includes how to be a compassionate human being. I owe them a safe home and a community surrounding them that loves them. And I owe it to them to be self-confident and self-loving so that they can feel the same no matter whether or not they end up looking like Brad Pitt.

With the media bombarding people with images of absolute perfection, implying that if you don’t achieve this look there’s something wrong with you and you’re a complete failure as a person, the lessons she’s teaching her children seem like perfectly valid ones to me. I can only hope to conduct myself as well as Julie Goodwin has in the face of criticism, especially around such a personal subject.

(Image Credit)

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