Mounting Armour: A Strategy for Aboriginal Women's Survival

Fredericks, Bronwyn L. (2005) Mounting Armour: A Strategy for Aboriginal Women's Survival. (Unpublished)


In what is termed "modern Australia" the concept of beauty has always been tied to whiteness and has been considerably widened over the years. In contemporary Australian society the beauty ideal is uniformly white, thin, young, energetic, fit, healthy, sexualised, smooth-skinned, desirable and "glamorous", whatever glamorous may mean. It is not "black" or Aboriginal, but may be tanned via tanning in the sun or using a solarium or spray booths, skin mousses or lotions to get that "delicious desirable sun-kissed golden glow". This beauty ideal is promoted sometimes unwittingly and sometimes with great cleverness and subtlety. There are few Australian women who could meet this standard let alone Australian Aboriginal women. In reference to what is considered beautiful within the Australian content, race, culture and gender place Aboriginal women in a cultural context of exile. A quick read of journal and newspaper articles, novels and reference books reveals that Aboriginal women are more often than not portrayed as lacking in complexity, with little depth, exotic and mysterious beings. We are also generally defined as being down to earth and practical creatures of the mundane. There are few if any references to Aboriginal women as being beautiful and an abundant source of references that use classist and racist stereotypes.

Once We Mount Armour, Pamela Croft's lithograph print and mixed media portrays the image of the female body. The body is painted black depicting Croft's body and essence. The image is taken from a 1930s western dressmaker's mannequin, with an attached metal skirt. The skirt explains Croft represents a cage as she understands that if Aboriginal women adopt and become focused on the western image of the body and what is considered beautiful in the Australian context, then this can cage us, trap us. She adds that in being careful not to become trapped and caged we need to protect ourselves with our armour when we venture out into broader Australian society. Our armour is our self-talk, mental imagery, strategies, tactics, support people and the fortification of our spirits. The body image of what is considered beautiful has changed from the 1930s image, but the image is still white. The white aspects on the body in the lithograph and mixed media depict those elements that are part of our heritage and colonisation. Croft's imagery brings to the forefront that when most mainstream Australian eyes look at body images, they look at the exterior of the body. When looking they may or may not determine from their gaze that the person who "owns" that body and the image is healthy, well, fit, young, sexualised, glamorous, smooth-skinned and tanned. This short paper will provide an overview of 'Once We Mount Armour', and some of Pamela Croft's other new work.

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ID Code: 14614
Item Type: Other
Refereed: No
Additional Information: This was a paper prepared for an event at the Sandhills Studio and Art Gallery for NAIDOC July 2005. Sandhills Studio and Art Gallery, Keppel Sands, Australlia. 8th July 2005
Keywords: Women, Aboriginal, Indigenous, Armour, Once We Mount Armour, Pamela Croft, Keppel Sands, Art, Survival, Culture, History, Whiteness, Colonisation, Identity, Australia, Empowerment
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2005 Bronwyn Fredericks (text) / Pamela Croft (art work and art images)
Deposited On: 01 Sep 2008 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 13:03

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