Thursday, 6 October 2011

Joan Kirner: "Miss Piggy for Premier"

Joan Kirner was the first female Premier of Victoria (1990)

When Joan Kirner became Premier of Victoria in 1990 constant references were made made to her weight and appearance; she was depicted as matronly and frumpy.

The Australian, August 10, 1990 called her “schoolmarmish” and the day before that The Truth had the headline “Miss Piggy for Premier”.

Memorably, she would often be drawn in cartoons wearing a polka dot dress, as in the Jeff Hook cartoon above from the Sun Herald. She was so strongly identified with this image, comedian Magda Szubanski included the frock in her impersonation. Which was odd, given she never owned a polka dot dress, much less wore one in public.

Joan Kirner and the polka dot dress have gone on to be a symbol of the low point in the sexism of the Australian press and the subject of much feminist study. An excellent article by Virginia Haussegger in The National Times demonstrates the resonance that symbol still has today.

1 comment:

  1. It's funny how powerful and enduring the image of that dress is. You know I distinctly "remembered" her wearing a polka dot dress under a leather jacket when she sang Joan Jett's "I Love Rock'n'Roll" on the Late Show in the early 90s...but just went and looked at it on You Tube and guess polka dots at all!