Over the past eighty years, Australia’s top-selling magazine – The Australian Women’s Weekly – has been celebrating inspirational women from its home country. For its special July issue, which hit newsstands today, Weekly editors took their mission to the next level by featuring mining engineer and inspirational burns survivor Turia Pitt on the cover, a coveted spot typically reserved for the most “beautiful” models.
In 2011, Turia was competing in an ultramarathon across the The Kimberley in Western Australia when a bushfire swept through. She suffered terrible burns over 64 percent of her body, including on her face and hands.
Though doctors initially gave Turia only the slimmest chance of surviving, she has since defied expectations and waged an incredible recovery that has amazed medical experts. In the process, she has endured more than 100 operations and 864 hospital meals, which she says, “is 864 too many.” What’s more, in the past six months alone, she has ridden a bicycle from Sydney to Uluru for charity, swam a 12.5 mile race in Western Australia’s Lake Argyle and walked the Great Wall of China – all to raise funds for the reconstructive surgery charity, Interplast.
26 year-old Turia, who now considers herself “a new – and improved – woman” used to think that people only admired her good looks, and not her grit, and her intelligence. But the inspiring survivor wants women to know that, “We’re all so much more than our bodies.”
The Australian Women’s Weekly chose Turia to be the July issue cover model when she was photographed as part of the magazine’s judging panel for its second annual “Women of the Future” event, a scholarship program that aims to discover the women leaders of tomorrow.
When it came time to decide which of the impressive panel judges, who include habitual cover girls, a senator, a CEO, a journalist, and actor Rachel Griffiths, would take the coveted cover slot, Weekly Editor-In-Chief Helen McCabe said, “It was clear from the moment she sat in front of the camera that the July cover had to belong to her.” The EIC added, “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.”
Turia says that being on the cover is a huge honor and she’s very humbled by the opportunity. “For me, it sends the message that confidence equals beauty. There are a lot of women out there who are so beautiful but don’t have the confidence, and that’s what gets you over the line.”
In the cover model’s July issue, Turia reflects on the past three years of her life – from surviving the bushfire that almost killed her, to the remarkable love of her partner, Michael Hoskin that did so much to underpin her recovery – and says she feels like “the luckiest girl in the world.”
Here’s to hoping that U.S. magazine’s follow the Weekly’s awesome example of how the image of “beauty” can so easily be redefined.