Australian Style: My two cents.

So, I have recently purchased a book on 'Australian Style', written by Melissa Penfold and Jenny Tabakoff, (a stylist and a lifestyle journalist, both from Sydney). It offers not only an interesting read, but also valuable insights into etiquette and morally driven beahviour. The subjects range from "How to pull yourself together" (dressing) to "How to have beautiful manners" and "How to make your house look like a million dollars" etc.

I enjoyed the text's emphasis on empowering one's sense of self, of aiming to respect not only others', but your own sense of worth. The advice on page 27 states that "Every day, do something physical something pleasurable, something intellectual and something for someone else. It will balance out your life." I consider that rather valid, and quite a nice summary of achieving a happy balance in life.

However, despite the insightful advice, I can't help but feel that the book cultivates a very traditional view of gender, segregating men and women into their conventionally sanctioned gender roles. For instance, under the chapter of "How to be a seductress", the authors detail how to "remember to wear a dress or skirt, with pretty heels, at least once a week. It reminds you (and others) that you're a woman." (p. 95). Now, I know I'm a fan of fashion myself, and of course beautiful dresses, but really, this sentence screams to me of dressing for others, especially men, and not for yourself. Sure, wear a dress if that's what you feel like that day, week or even month, but if you're having a pants fortnight, why not explore the different types available to you? No need to be 'sexy' all the time, or ever if you don't wish it.

Another quote which rather bothered me was "walk like a woman, not a gorilla. That means a slight swish of the hips, taking light steps keeping your head up and shoulders back..." and so on. I think that phrase speaks for itself in terms of very clearly dividing men and women in their behavioural processes and the importance of behaving within the 'appropriate' (by whom?) boundaries of your gender.

Overall, I do think it is an enjoyable read, particularly when it mentions simple, yet always relevant rules of developing a 'moral' style in treating people well. The other stuff....take with a grain of salt.