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At the beginning (a.k.a. when women's magazine covers switched to photographs from illustrations), monthly mags were plastered with models, from Twiggy to Kate Moss. Then came the Angelinas, Rihannas, and Kardashians of the world, staring down shoppers with the promise of scandal and aspirational glimpses into impossible lives full of happiness and juice cleanses. And, that's how it's been for decades. Famous, conventionally beautiful faces sell magazines — and, in an age where that's nearly impossible to do, there's little incentive to challenge the status quo.
So, when we saw the July cover for The Australian Women's Weekly, we were more than a little excited. A spokesperson said the mag chose Turia Pitt, an engineer, athlete, author, and motivational speaker, “because she is quite simply one of the most impressive women you will ever hope to meet." Pitt was competing in a 100km ultra-marathon in 2011 when she was trapped in a bushfire. She sustained burns over 65% of her body; doctors told her partner there was little chance she'd survive. Today, in addition to her full-time job as a mining engineer, she regularly completes impressive athletic events — such as walking the Great Wall of China and swimming a 20km lake race in Australia's Lake Argyle — to raise money for Interplast, a non-profit that provides plastic surgery procedures for those in need.
As the magazine's editor-in-chief, Helen McCabe, puts it, “Any attempt to describe the magic and beauty of Turia seems to get lost in platitudes or clichés. Yet, I have never met a more remarkable person.”