It's no secret that the first blogpost of mine that was picked up and published by Daily Life was an article criticising the Miss NAIDOC pageants, and indeed all beauty pageants for young Aboriginal women. Two years on, I still don't like them surprisingly. What's more, they appear to have flourished. And yes, they are all about "empowerment" and community and leadership according to their websites and official marketing stuff. Which is great, but it's still a bunch of young women trotted out in dresses, heels and bikinis whilst alternately performing dance routines and receiving positive reinforcement regarding their looks above all else. I haven't been won over and I still prefer that community service and leadership development opportunities happened for young women apart from the world of beauty. Because we are so much more than that!
So here's what I propose: For the month of July, which is when NAIDOC falls, this lowly blog becomes the home of the "Ms NAIDOC pageant". This will be a feminist pageant celebrating our amazing black women in their actual glory. I want to publish pictures and blurbs of some amazing Aboriginal women on this page, and depending on how many entrants I get, I will run the stories anywhere between every day of NAIDOC to every day of July. So I want anywhere between 10-31 entrants here. The following guidelines apply:
1. Looks are not a factor in the Ms NAIDOC pageant. Photos can be anything from random and ridiculous to stately. As this is not a beauty pageant I want you to be you.
2. Age, height, size, cis/trans status, hirsuteness, and ability to shake it to Beyonce are not part of the consideration. I don't care about any of these things unless they are part of the story that you wish to celebrate and share.
3. I am more interested in the "unsung" here. So many women have achieved so many amazing things (often whilst also being expected to hold everything together for everyone else) and for the purposes of Ms NAIDOC, I'm more interested in the stories of amazing women which haven't been told. This doesn't actually exclude our high profile women, mind, rather if they are high profile for certain reasons, I would rather we told different stories here so we can highlight their amazing diversity.
4. YES, you can nominate someone else. Make sure you do it with their consent though. I do not want to be told off because someone has appeared on here who does not want to be so named.
5. As the Deadly awards offer three awards for sportsmen and only one for sportswomen, and as women have only won roughly a quarter of the findable "Sportsperson of the Year" NAIDOC awards, I would dearly love a few female sports stars among the mix.
6. This is not a competition. There will be no winner. I just want to celebrate our women and this does not include a "judging" session.
So, have you won your local beat poetry comp with a number on land rights? Earned a Masters degree whilst bringing up three kids on your own despite the fact that you left school at 14? Escaped an abusive relationship and are helping other people to do the same? Beat cancer? Got straight As at school this semester? Fought the patriarchy and won? Come first in the under 14s 110m hurdles and plan to represent the country one day? Cooked dinner and did not blow up the kitchen (this would be a high point of my own achievements)? Do you want to be celebrated for reasons other than how you turn out in a frock, heels and make up? THEN I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
Ms NAIDOC: Because let's stuff the patriarchy and celebrate our women.
Email photos and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org. This may happen, or it may not because folks just are not interested at all. I really hope it does though.
Note: If I have forgotten anything, drop me a question via the comments section, or I will update this as I think of it. Cheers!