A 'Girlboss' is defined as a "confident, capable woman who pursues her own ambitions instead of working for others or otherwise settling in life." Gilrbossing has also been used to describe a way of presenting a professionally successful persona that highlights femininity.
The illegitimate child of a single mother, Dally-Watkins came from humble rural beginnings and found fame as a young model in 1950s Sydney. She turned this fame into a fortune, using her profile to start a chain of finishing and deportment schools for young women and, later, young men.
Dally-Watkins’ schools, which still operate today, taught catwalk strutting, posing for photographs, and make-up application. She taught models how to win beauty pageants and taught men how to court like gentlemen. And she made a lot of money doing it.
Dally-Watkins died earlier this year, and is being remembered as a strict yet charming teacher and a very successful businesswoman. The legacy of Dally-Watkins and what she symbolises as a successful and feminine woman presents an opportunity to think through some of the ways our culture both applauds and maligns women’s success.
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