Mia began by talking about the importance she places in showing women in all their forms. When working at Cosmo she wanted to show a more diverse range of women so decided upon a lingerie story with a girl who was size 14-16. The fashion editor said "No, no, no!" But Mia pushed ahead. She couldn’t find a photographer, couldn’t find a fashion label for the clothes. The photographer, make-up and hair artist didn’t want their names on it.
“The way women are represented in the media sucks.”
She went on to say that she's really upset because the media will not represent women the way they are. Editors do alter things. Images from the magazines subliminally penetrate us and that becomes the wallpaper of what’s normal.
Mia then spoke about working with the National Body Image Advisory Group. They created a voluntary code of conduct for magazines, fashion and models. But there was absolutely no change, no disclosure of photoshop images. A voluntary code was not enough. Newspapers cannot alter images. Why can magazines do it and play with women’s self-esteem?
When she left Cosmo she worked at Channel 9 which was "a hundred shades of disaster". Once she had left Channel 9 she was lost and the phone didn’t ring. But then she fell pregnant (thankfully, finally something to do) and then started her blog, Mama Mia, and made no money for three years (although with GoogleAds they made $17 one year)! Then her husband took over the technical side and Mia did the rest.
Mia and her husband (who she "married for dinner, not lunch") live and work together. They have an office and staff now. Mama Mia has become a family business that involves working incredibly long hours, but is intensely rewarding. Mia reflected on a happy moment when she was giving away movie tickets from a competition she had run and her young daughter was sitting on her desk, licking the stamps for the envelopes. Mia also talked about "the walk of shame every working mother knows" that starts at lunch time when you put your jacket and bag in the car, and ends at 5.30 when you take your mobile phone for a walk so nobody disturbs you on the way out.
Question and Answer Session
What’s the book (Mia Culpa) about?
It's a conversation between women and all the things we would talk about. It's about validating the feelings that mothers have when they realise that they aren't Carol Brady. Mia stated that it's comforting to know that you aren't alone.
How important are the comments on your website?
How do you balance family and work?
Badly. Having balance is the new having it all. It’s the new goal. Today was really unbalanced with three children sick and having to rush out the door. But she has to make tweeks all the time. Only when you’re really unbalanced all the time do you need to change. Women need to have a life. Something that’s all about them, something for you. Maybe not a blog but something similar, a time to be independent.
The stories you do are always interesting. Do you have trouble coming up with ideas?
Mia stated that her insatiable curiosity and the endless inspiration she finds in life means that she has too many ideas, with about one hundred unfinished or draft articles on the back burner.
Do other people have ideas for you too?
"I have people sending me links to interesting things all the time." Mia also said that sometimes she gets sick of the sound of her own voice.
Do you ever work with themes?
No, Mia is very anti-theme as she thinks they’re stupid. At Sunday Magazine she has a special dispensation to not write about the theme.
Do you see changes in air-brushing? Are less people doing it?
No. Magazines are doing a fantastic job of making themselves redundant. They are securing their own extinction. Distribution and sales are slowing but they’re not changing. People can access material online and it’s free.
Click here to view
It’s important to explain the photography process to people, especially young women and girls. Mia went to a photo shoot with some girls from work recently. There was the make-up artist, the photographer and four assistants, wardrobe and three racks of clothes. Four hours later, after hundreds of photographs only one gets used and it will be air-brushed.
What are your favourite books?
Mia read recently and really loved Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. It was supposed to be about how Chinese mothers are better than Western mothers and their children are more successful and disciplined. But the point of the story was the battle hymn. Her process worked for the older daughter but not for the younger. It’s a beautiful, funny and self-deprecating story about different forms of parenting.
Thanks to Mia Freedman for coming along to Shearer's and having a chat with us!