“I then proceeded to sit down nearby and read a book as I waited for my plane, while they joked that I was probably reading a book upside down” – Tara Moss, The Fictional Woman

“Our sex need not primarily define who we are, what we are capable of, or what we can be expected to enjoy or engage in” Tara Moss, The Fictional Woman.

“Lovely, I don’t think you’re in the right room, can I help you find somewhere?”

“Do you even know what a Marxist historian is?”

“I don’t even know how you got in here”

“So what’re you doing after class? I can walk you to the library I don’t teach until 2pm”

“Just LOOK at her, seriously she’s got no idea”

So hopefully you get the picture?

As far as I can remember I have lusted after history. Whether it be an infatuation with the Renaissance or an affair with the French Revolution. Sitting on the couch while my father poked at the fireplace to “get it going”, mesmerised by the architecture of Versailles. It was when I hit the brown stone building which housed all knowledge that I realised I didn’t belong. My study had betrayed me.

“Lovely, I don’t think you’re in the right room, can I help you find somewhere?”

Branded like cattle, I became one dimensional.

Her pomegranate lipstick, pristine as it was, never seeped onto her teeth. Her beauty was confronting and so she was discovered at age 13 by a modelling agency. The glamour of the model world was an ocean of beautiful long legged women who graced the covers of Vogue, Cosmopolitan and glided down the runway. Their Colgate smiles drew her in. “You want to be a model?” her mother asked, her stomach felt bloated by her favourite Vanilla milkshake, “Yes” she said in her smooth Canadian accent. Drenched in silk, hiding her braces on the runway she was striking. She transformed from the angel to the femme fatale at times looking twice her age. Soon, the European market beckoned after being seduced by a self- test she had sent. Arms crossed, eyes looking down the lens, a black and white dress and damp hair. She was an amazon.

She was told to “lose weight” in Europe in order to be Parisian skinny. The fight for the industry took hold. She survived on 500 calories a day.

Parisian women. Walked the streets with a float. Their hair perfectly shaping their faces as though the wind had made it deliberate. A buttery, crisp croissant in one hand, a coffee in the other. Typically, their figures still petite. They reeked of chicness and femininity. Walking the streets of Le Marais in a tight denim skirt and baggy white shirt tied up at the waist, I stumbled upon graffiti next to a lingerie store, a woman swinging in her negligée. I immediately grabbed my camera, attempting to be artistic when a woman stopped me. She had blonde hair in a pixie cut, a denim jacket, black jeans and blue ray bans. “Bonjour Mademoiselle” she said. I had no idea where she was looking, I couldn’t see her eyes. “Eh Bonjour” I said shyly. “I stop you, eh, I want to say, I like your style” she gestured at my clothes, warmth coating her expression. “Oh merci beaucoup!” rushed out of my mouth, I shivered allowing the compliment to dissolve. I took my somewhat artistic photo and continued on my Le Marais journey. I had a skip in my step, walking with the utmost of confidence as though I were Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot.

They could smell it here, “Just LOOK at her, seriously she’s got no idea”. I shivered with anxiety, slouched and was silenced.

A black skivvy tucked into an a-lined buttoned skirt, black sheer stockings and knee high sued boots which I purchased to channel my inner European chic. I walked into my history class with my giant grey reader weighing me down. Today’s topic, Heresy. Being the opinionated woman I am, I leaped at the opportunity to share my thoughts. I was red in my cheeks, biting my gums out of sheer nervousness until they bled. “There is a repetition of the facts in this reading, although there were cultural innovations and social transformations. It is to what extent were the people were effected” I stated. The woman sitting opposite me, a woman whose articulation, I envied. Every time she spoke I’d think to myself “God I have to read way more” In front of the entire class she belittled me with, “Do you even know what a Marxist historian is?”

“it just clicked to me” she continued “Do you know who you remind me of?”. I didn’t. “Elle Woods!” she exclaimed. “I love her!” I said gleefully. Who wouldn’t want to make Harvard Law school look blissful and exciting, winning a case in her first year (somewhat unrealistic some would argue) in my eyes Elle Woods conquered. “Oh seriously?” she sneered at me as though I were a pest. I withheld the tears until I could escape to the bathroom after class. I didn’t think that class could be worse, but boy was I wrong. My tutor asked me to stay behind in order to discuss my recent assignment. I was freaking out, did I fail or something? I nervously walked up to him as the class emptied. I couldn’t retreat to the bathroom just yet.

“So what’re you doing after class? I can walk you to the library I don’t teach until 2pm”

He softly spoke, his eyes lowered all the way down to my boots then up back up and smirked. My whole body quivered, a ripple effect internally, like skipping rocks on the river. I replied with a stern “No!” and stormed out of the room. I hadn’t ever experienced a double whammy of being humiliated by a woman and objectified by my history tutor in the same half hour.

Assaulted as a result of her looks, she wasn’t so lucky. Whilst married to her first husband, she accepted an invitation to be driven to a friend’s house by a man in a new circle of friends. Although there were some close calls while she resided in Germany and Italy. Everyone perceived him as someone valuable, a man to know, a somewhat budding actor. He was six- foot tall, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. He raped her, silenced her. The second circumstance was as she was residing in Italy, walking to her old apartment after a long day, fear of being alone she was wearing a black hoodie. The sound of a motor running behind her was alarming, a group of men began driving alongside her. She panicked, but tried to act like she didn’t even notice them. Just another night. Her walk turned into a jog to test the waters, the men sped up. She made it to her apartment just in time, immediately locking all of the doors. She acknowledges this issue as global. She has given a voice to those women who were told to shut up, and were oppressed by others inflicting fear.

She has a fascination with the 1950’s and claims that the world can be utilitarian or colourful. Whatever YOU want it to be. She, herself believes in colour. Her favourite lipstick colour is red. It reminds her of the war efforts of women, conquering the work place. Painting their lips with red as a symbol of being a liberated woman. A celebration. However, stunting liberation in its tracks is this notion that women are one dimensional in how they are generally viewed. Women are seen but not heard.

God forbid anyone have beauty and brains ey? She was 23 years old and wanted to fulfil a lifelong passion of being an author. She did what all writers do at first and penned down what she knew (which is what I am doing now). She knew the world of modelling, she knew the world of sexual harassment, of rape, of family, of ambition. Her first novel Fetishwas published followed by Split, marking an obsession with crime. Characters of police officers, private investigators, psychologists, professors, university students peppered these novels creating a suspenseful atmosphere throughout. Lest we forget that observers do not wish for her to write a best -selling novel.

“Clearly beauty, sex appeal, contracts, money and glamour helped her to soar as a writer without her having to know how to write” – Interrobang 2012

Branded like cattle, she became one dimensional.

Judgement is the key game player who seeks victory. Forget the PHD, skim over the UNICEF Ambassador for child’s survival, 11 best -selling novels, private investigator credentials, patron of the full stop foundation, Edna Ryan Award for the feminist debate. The Fictional Womanbrought, the model, the body, the survivor, the writer, the invisible woman, the archetypal woman, gender wars, the visible woman, the mother, the crone and the feminist into a modern day context. Thus, with its accessibility making both girls and women question where they themselves fit as a feminist which has not only made a huge impact on the feminist debate

…but has given my image as a lipstick feminist a voice.



  • Moss, Tara ‘The Fictional Woman’ Harper Collins Publishing, 2014.