Meeting a Role Model [Fashionable]17.05.2013 11:50:38
Meeting a Role Model On a warm day, just before Christmas last year, I travelled to Melbourne to interview Aboriginal model Emily Cattermole. With the Yarra River flowing beside me, a perfect blue sky above me and the city skyline splayed in front of me, I spotted Emily strutting her way down the footpath. Heads were turning. Eyes to the front with her hips swinging, it's impossible not to stare; she's tall and her exquisite features are accentuated by a huge smile. Her infectious laugh and country girl enthusiasm could disarm the most jaded fashionista. It's easy to pigeon hole all models as vacant clotheshorses. I've been guilty of it, but Emily broke that stereotype for me. After our time together I'm pretty convinced we won't see photos of her stumbling out of night clubs at 3am or making scandalous headlines like some of her peers. Discovered at 14, she's traversed the globe, strutting down catwalks in Los Angeles, New York and Paris. Closer to home she's been the face of Sydney, Melbourne and Perth fashion weeks. While Emily's established her name in this notoriously competitive industry, it all takes a back seat to her ultimate goal: to be a role model for young people, especially Aboriginal teens. This ambition is in her genes. Her grandfather, Ernie Bridge, was Western Australia's first Aboriginal Parliamentarian and his determination and courage at overcoming racism inspires her. Since doing this story, which will air on this Sunday's program, I've copped a few comments about whether it is appropriate to promote an industry that some say doesn't cater for minority groups. I can see their point; I could count on one hand the number of successful Aboriginal models in Australia. Then there are the recent reports of Emily's agency, Chadwick, being accused of telling an Indian-Australian woman that she would have limited work because she was not white. These undoubtedly paint an ugly picture of the fashion industry. Thoughts of fashion heavyweights picking and choosing which ethnicity will be the latest trend spring to mind. Even though everyone will have an opinion on this, I believe that people like Emily have the potential to use the industry and the exposure that comes with it to the advantage of her people. For Emily it's not about inspiring Aboriginal girls to become models, it's about showing them that success is possible, whether it's in law, medicine or fashion.