Anita Selzer is the highly acclaimed author of thirteen books in non-fiction for children and adults with an interest in women and history. She has written about Australian sportswomen who achieved at high levels including the Olympics: athletes, basketballers, golfers, hockey players, netballers and swimmers; girls’ education in Australia; governors’ wives in Australia and the pastoral pioneers of Como House. Before becoming a writer, Anita was a teacher of English and Politics and completed Masters and Doctorate degrees in Education, focusing on gender and history. She also holds a Graduate Diploma in Women’s Studies and lives in Melbourne with her family.
Her previous book ‘I am Sasha’ was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s History Awards in 2019 (Young People’s History).
Praise for I AM SASHA by Anita Selzer - Based on the experiences of the author’s own father and retold using her grandmother’s memoir, this extraordinary story remained a family secret until their death. Now author Anita Selzer documents the astounding lengths that her grandmother went to, to protect her family.
'A remarkable act of love by writing.’ - Morris Gleitzman
‘A compelling reminder of the cruelty of discrimination . . . and a testament to a boy’s bravery, sublimating his true identity in the face of ever-present danger.’ - Simon French
Peter Fensham Education Scholarship 1989: Education Faculty, Monash University. Fensham was the former Dean of the faculty. I was awarded this scholarship for the PhD work that I did in that time, but discontinued the study after having 3 children in 3 years. However, I managed to have several academic papers published on my doctoral findings during that period. And I re-started the doctorate in 2005 or 2006 to complete it by 2008.
It was and still is very significant to me.
For my PhD, I was awarded a scholarship from Monash University: Australian postgraduate award from Monash University in 2005-2006. And for a postdoctoral publication of my PhD findings in an academic journal, I was awarded another scholarship: a postgraduate publication award from Monash University in 2008.
For my book, I am Sasha, I was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s History Prize along with 2 other candidates in 2019.
My Latest Book
The Female Gaze in Art and Photography
Historically, male artists have re-presented women through their eyes. The Female Gaze in Art and Photography redresses this imbalance, looks at art through women’s eyes. It shines a light on the work of twenty contemporary women artists and photographers from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and United States of America, placing these creatives and their works centre stage.
The female gaze is not singular; it is multifarious, often based on the creative’s lived experience. It positions subjects as whole people and not objects. The female gaze reclaims women’s bodies as repositories for multiple meanings. It emphasises the emotions of and intimacy between creator and subject, who are at times the same person.
The Female Gazein Art and Photography offers an empathetic re-presentation of women, men and those identifying as LGBQTIA+. The art and photography covered is also thematic, addressing issues affecting our lives today: love and loss; lifecycle of women; motherhood; gender, sexual and racial identity; the fractured self; autonomy and agency; strength, resilience and vulnerability; relationships; racism; marginalisation and diversity; feminism; migration and dispossession; and climate change among others.
The Female Gaze sits alongside and is a valuable addition to Charlotte Jansen’s Girl on Girl and Katy Hessel’s The Story of Art Without Men, showcasing the talent of women creatives in today’s world of art and photography.
The Sheila Foundation’s purpose is to overturn decades of gender bias by writing women artists back into Australian art history and ensuring equality for women artists today. To this end, The Female Gaze in Art and Photography plays an important role in alerting us to the political and social relevance and vibrancy of the work of contemporary women artists and the unique perspectives their art brings to bear on 21stcentury life. Through the work of the artists captured in these pages, selected and discussed by Anita Selzer, we can see and imagine a world in which the female gaze is honoured and nurtured, a world that embraces difference and diversity and in which equity is a given. The Female Gaze in Art and Photography reminds us of how far we have come and that there is still work to do. Kelly Gellatly, Chair, Sheila Foundation - The Female Gaze in Art and Photography is an insightful, accessible and intimate reflection of and on women artists whose work reconfigures the way we imagine the human subject and subjectivity in art and photography. Beautifully illustrated, this book offers a celebration of difference becoming visible.
Professor Barbara Bolt, University of Melbourne
Number Of Pages: 256
Available: 1st November 2023
Publisher: Hardie Grant Media
Dimensions (cm): 28.0 x 24.0
Reframing Beauty by Anita Selzer
REFRAMING BEAUTY PRESENTS A DIFFERENT WAY OF VIEWING A WOMAN’S BEAUTY THAT’S NOT ABOUT HER LOOKS, NOT ABOUT HER FACE OR BODY…
Anita Selzer explores the role of a woman as a person; what she is doing with her life and how she is living it.
The book offers examples of diverse women around the globe who are currently performing beauty in various & unique ways.
Anita shares her own real experience of facial surgery and how that made her feel, considering the cultural value highly accorded to a woman’s beauty in the world.
She considers past and recent ideas about all women’s beauty that have been influential, chronicling how ideals of beauty in terms of hair, makeup and fashion have changed over time; what they are currently and the trending shift towards diversity that we see now.
“An insightful and thoughtful work of perspectives and challenging the social awareness of often misunderstood intentions…I loved this as a book to help all women put balance in their views of themselves and the world around them…liberating…” Lenore, IndieBook reviewer
Australians spend more than $1 billion on cosmetic procedures a year – more per capita than the United States. And perhaps unsurprisingly, women account for 92 per cent of all cosmetic surgeries. Anita Selzer’s book is a timely offering, investigating and analysing ideas about beauty, changing fashions and cultural differences. It also looks at the damaging impact of social media – one study refers to 10-year-old girls using filters regularly “to feel and look prettier”, another cites teenagers in this country wanting cosmetic surgery so they can look more like their filtered selves. The author of 13 non-fiction books, Selzer’s own facial surgery and her dismay at Western culture’s obsession with how women look inspired this latest offering. Part social history, part literary critique, she also showcases social activists doing good work to fuel change. It’s an insightful read with compelling arguments about the urgent need to do just as the title suggests.
- Kerrie O’Brien, The Age, Spectrum, June 24, 2023 - Weekend Picks, page 7
Dr. Anita Selzer is Reframing Beauty on The SHTICK S72-04Segment 3 YT
Review of The Body by Emily Ratajkowski (Quercus, 2021)
Emily Ratajkowski’s My Body comprises a collection of essays, largely personal reflections of a model’s experiences and observations. The book raises questions about the value of external beauty in western culture; power and control, but disappointingly, there is no wider discussion of these issues that tend to affect all our lives. And while the book feels more like a draft rather than a completed work, it does offer an interesting read.
According to Ratajkowski, body and beauty were accorded high value by her parents particularly her mother, early on in her life. ‘My mother always told me to take pleasure in the way I looked.’ (p.2) Sadly, the model needs to feel beautiful to be validated. ‘’I’ve never prayed much, but … as a young girl I prayed for beauty (p.13) ‘Beauty was a way for me to be special. When I was special, I felt my parents’ love for me the most.’ (p.17)
Emily used her body and external beauty to earn a lucrative living, becoming a model and securing some acting roles. She knew her body was an asset, a commodity that the world valued, was proud to build a career and life off her body, trading it for money fame and relevance. (Kara Swisher, Emily Ratajkowski Isn’t Quite Ready to Quit Profiting Off the Male Gaze, podcast SWAY, The New York Times, November 29, 2021) However, this seemingly primary value accorded by Emily’s parents has damaged herself – esteem and been the epicenter of her life. She reflects, ‘I’m nothing special unless I’m naked,’ (p.213) even though wants to be taken seriously for her ideas and politics.
Ratajkowski’s low self - esteem surfaces in her revelation of intimacy with her husband: ‘I’m one with my body only during sex. When my husband and I fuck I like to look into the mirror so I can see that I’m real.’ (p.102) She is evidently insecure about her own beauty when her husband says to her: ‘There are so many beautiful women in the world’ (p. 26) and responds, ‘I freeze when he says this. I feel a familiar twist in my gut … tension in my body… it hurts to hear you say that… Why do I suddenly feel as if he doesn’t love me enough?’ (p. 26)
Ratajkowski assumes the role of a victim in sharing some of her experiences where she feels men took advantage of her, yet seems confident in handling herself at others. She also describes herself as a ‘savvy hustler’ (p.5) evident in the following example. Writing about a man around fifty when she was nineteen, ‘I read you in an instant. I knew what I needed to do. I’ve had to impress men like you my entire life and be grateful for any scrap of attention. I was still a teenager, but knowing how to get noticed by people in your position was already second nature. I approached you, played it cool.’ (p. 203)
Looking back into her past, Ratajkowski has gained some insight into how she feels about her body and work and conflicted feelings surface. While she admits to loving the money earned in her work, the model also discovered shame in using her body as a tool to impress men calling the shots, even though Ratajkowski thought she could ‘disassociate’ when her body was observed, not recognizing it as hers. ‘I was ashamed of the fun I’d had dancing around naked ’(p.46) she shares, about appearing in the Blurred Lines video. Ratajkowski however also says ‘I don’t regret doing the video. I don’t regret anything.’ (Kara Swisher, Emily Ratajkowski Isn’t Quite Ready to Quit Profiting Off the Male Gaze, podcast SWAY, The New York Times, November 29, 2021)
A deeper sharing of her shame would have been welcomed here rather than the one - liners. In those moments of reflection, it would have been insightful to see what Ratajkowski thinks of the larger structures and how men assert their power, an issue she discusses a little more with American journalist Kara Swisher in her SWAY podcast, that’s absent in My Body. (Kara Swisher, Emily Ratajkowski Isn’t Quite Ready to Quit Profiting Off the Male Gaze, podcast SWAY, The New York Times, November 29, 2021)
In My Body she focuses on the male gaze, alluding to its power. ‘I traded my body and measured my self-worth in a value system that revolves around men and their desires’ (p. 208). I would have liked to see a deeper discussion of the female and self-gaze that also permeates our culture and explore why this is so. This analysis is missing in My Body, for example, why do women judge each other’s looks and their own? Is it just because we are influenced by what men think is beautiful and it is culturally prescribed or is there more to it? Her inclusion of artist and writer, Hannah Black’s audio, ‘My body’ lacks any significant meaning in Ratajkowski’s mention. She merely discloses that black singers are singing ‘My Body, but offers no explanation of what this audio piece is about. And the work is relevant in the theme of power that Ratajkowski skims over in her book. In her video, Black is political, exploring who has a body and who does not in our society in her visual of white corpulent men posing with female African American women singing ‘My Body.’ (Eva Folks, An interview with Hannah Black, 26 June 2014, aqnb.com 2014/06/26-an-interview-with-hannah-black) She is asking who is deemed significant in our society.
In the second half of her video, Black asks a poignant question, if reincarnated, ‘would you choose to have the same body or not? ‘Would you choose to have the same body of a woman again or a woman of color? The body is always a vector of domination: having a body is a signal of your vulnerability to the world.‘ (Eva Folks, An interview with Hannah Black, 26 June 2014, aqnb.com 2014/06/26-an-interview-with-hannah-black)
In My Body Ratajkowski admits to posting images ‘that encouraged the world to see my body as my primary value,’ (p.89) and for some time ‘felt that Instagram was the only place where I could control how I present myself to the world,’ (p.156) but she omits to discuss any possibilities of using social media to transform ideas about beauty beyond the physical aesthetic. Nor does she consider the ramifications of her images and how they may affect young impressionable girls that follow her on it and what they might do to try to achieve her image. That is what I would worry about especially when she has 28.6 million followers.
Kara Swisher asked the model about her impact on Instagram: ‘what are people seeing – you or do you want them to see you but not look at you?’
(Kara Swisher, Emily Ratajkowski Isn’t Quite Ready to Quit Profiting Off the Male Gaze, podcast SWAY, The New York Times, November 29, 2021) Ratajkowski responded that she wanted people to see her, but read her essays or book. Swisher gave her the answer I wanted to give too: ‘If people stop looking at you, they may pay more attention to you.’ (Kara Swisher, Emily Ratajkowski Isn’t Quite Ready to Quit Profiting Off the Male Gaze, podcast SWAY, The New York Times, November 29, 2021)
I recommend a read of this book bearing these omissions in mind and urge the reader to think about the issues she touches on. And suggest readers take a look at my forthcoming book Reframing Beauty (due for release, November 2022 by Shawline publishing) that looks at beauty in a very different positive way.
My Earlier Book
I Am Woman by Anita Selzer
A desire to embrace our differences; to strive for harmony in this world of terrorism and the absolute must to protect our children…
I am Woman presents a nuanced view of how we could be living our lives in the near future; valuing parenthood, family and paid work, and where we treat one another with respect. A future in which we do things different to the past and perhaps, even in this present.
A world where we can thrive to treat each other with greater respect and empathy within this fragile society.
The #Metoo movement has shown us it is time for us to change behaviour and the ways women and men relate to one another. We do have the power to do this and make a positive difference in our world.
It is now time that we question how to work and live, and how to achieve the mythical work-life balance so as contributors to our communities, we can protect and nurture our family in contemporary society.
Anita Selzer’s eye-opening journey to discovery shows us in the simplest, even perhaps obvious ways, how we can adjust the perception about success by sharing her experiences of life, love and laughs. The delicate honesty and realness of her narrative is compelling and moving but most of all, it is from the heart of a genuine and talented woman who believes in what we all know yet are trapped in our lives, often too busy or too unwilling to look beyond what is…to what can be…
My Other Books