The fabulous Gaynor Alder

You’ve recently launched The Teenage Girls’ Survival Guide – a little sister to The Modern Woman’s Survival Guide. What inspired you to create the new online magazine?

It was actually my boyfriend’s beautiful 14-year-old daughter that inspired me to create the magazine. We are very close and listening to her talk about the struggles of teenage life took me right back to the angst riddled years of my own teens (lest we forget).

Looking at the current teenage publications on the market, I realised that whilst they deliver a lot of fun content, there was a gap in the market for a publication that was focused on really helping teenagers cultivate confidence. It seemed a natural progression from The Modern Woman’s Survival Guide, and thus TGSG was born.

I want it to inspire kick arse self confidence in teenagers, so they can not only strut into early adulthood with a fabulous pair of heels, but also with a water tight self esteem that accepts nothing less than the best. Because, so often I think we enter our twenties fumbling around in the dark whilst struggling to make sense of the world around us and finding ourselves. And it needn’t be this way.

What sorts of features and articles can we expect in the magazine?

We are focused on setting trends, rather than following them, and celebrating individuality rather than fitting in. As such, we’ll be compiling fashion lookbooks that take pieces from current collections and encourage teens to create their own style (and of course, remind them that leggings are NOT pants, and that less is not always more).

We have a beauty department that will provide weekly reviews of products suited to the problems of teen skin; music, book and concert reviews; articles on teen depression, anxiety and self esteem; study tips and advice from experts to help them work out what they want to do when they grow up (independent of others expectations of them) and a whole lot more.

What sorts of issues did you struggle with as a teenager? And do you believe there is more pressure on teenage girls today?

As a late bloomer, getting the attention of boys was no easy feat (my E cup now doth protest). I would scribble their names (or code names) on my pencil case and file, and calculate our percentage compatibility based on the number of times the letters l.o.v.e. appeared in our names together. Jonnathon Shinnick and I were a perfect match (even by Dexter’s standards).

I learnt to smoke (ahem, bum suck a cigarette to look like I was doing it properly) so I could look ‘cool’ when walking to school with him. I also worked out his complete time table, and re-teased my fringe and liberally applied my Bonne Bell lip gloss five minutes before the bell (yes it was the 90’s), so I could race to where he would be walking, and then casually saunter beside him in between classes. Obsessed much.

I listened to the Top 40 with Mike Hammond every night and made mix tapes of ‘our songs’, by hitting record on my cassette player. I went to bed thinking I would die unless he asked me out.

But my efforts were all in vain. No matter how high I teased my fringe, he never did notice me. After crying into of bucket of ice cream, I eventually got over him and started scribbling someone else’s name on my pencil case. Thank goodness for my BFF Katie, who is still my best friend today. Together we navigated the teenage years with far too much foundation, body suits and Tresor perfume.

I think teens today have more pressure than ever on their growing shoulders (sans the shoulder pads our mothers wore). I think they are exposed to drugs and sexuality far younger than my generation, and the models today are far thinner than those gracing the covers of the likes of Dolly back in the 90s.

Although, I would’ve done anything to have the long blonde locks of Alison Brahe – she was every boys’ dream, and every girl I knew wanted to be her. As such, I had many frightful encounters with ‘One Shade Lighter’ (a primitive form of hair bleach that you sprayed in your hair to let the sun activate), with my brunette locks always coming off second best. With my continual cologne of eau de hair bleach, no wonder Jonathon never warmed to my advances.

You’re one very busy (and fabulous) woman. How do you maintain balance in your life? Any tips?

* Blushes* Yes, as Editor-in-Chief of The Modern Woman’s Survival Guide, and now the Teenage Girl’s Survival Guide, as well as freelancing as a writer and online PR & Marketing Consultant, I am busier than a hooker in a Kalgoorlie brothel.

But I am driven by passion, and this naturally generates energy for what I do. I am not a morning person (never have been, never will be) but I often find myself rubbing the sleep out of my eyes and bounding of bed in the morning, and not being able to sleep at night because I am so excited about the next day’s work.

I don’t naturally gravitate towards the middle ground (having been blessed at birth with an all or nothing nature), so finding balance can be a perilous tightrope to walk. It would be easy for me to work all hours of the day and night, as I love what I do. But, I have an inherent belief that there is nothing more important in life than the people we share it with, and this has me pack up my crayons at the end of the day, so that I have quality time with the people I love.

I’ve learnt (the hard way) that when I don’t take care of myself (i.e. seeking serenity and solace whilst staring down an empty bottle of sauvignon blanc and chain smoking like a bingo lady) that I crash and burn.

As a writer, my thoughts are open for business 24 bloody 7, often hijacking my slumber in the early hours of the morning. But these thoughts are my friends, because without them, I would not be able to run my manicured nails over my keyboard to construct literary prose. But, in order to be able to harness them effectively, I need periods of quiet. Peace. Rest. Even though we have a long way to go in our relationship, meditation and yoga are becoming firm BFF’s. And for times I really over do it, nothing sorts me out like a good massage.

I am also a firm believer in romancing your everyday, doing beautiful things that honour the present moment, and remind us that it’s not the destination, but the journey (yes, that old nutshell). Like lighting candles, drinking tea out of delightful French cups and having flowers on my desk as I work.

I think we all have to work with our inherent natures to get the best out of them, and then take time to do those things that keep us centred as individuals. For some running on the treadmill is their release, whilst others it’s walking on the beach. We’re all different, and we should all embrace and accept that, rather than fight against ourselves. And god damn it, we are never going to be perfect, nor can we do it all on our own. Amen to that.

And while we’ve got you, how is The Modern Woman’s Survival Guide going, and what can we expect from it in future?

The Modern Woman’s Survival Guide has evolved from a blog to an online magazine. Yes, she’s all grown up, but she’s still Jenny from the block. Whilst there are less personal accounts of my day-to-day life, there are many more brilliant articles from my talented team of writers. And I’m writing a monthly column called ‘Behind the Red Curtain’ where I write about whatever is going on in my life, reminiscent of the early MWSG days. Gaynor. Straight Up.

We are still focused on inspiring women to live with style and substance, to stand on their own ground, play by their own rules, and, oh, to never leave home without ridiculously sexy underwear or underestimate the power of a good hair day.

We’ve got some new features including a job hub for creative peeps who want to break free of the 9 to 5 rut. As a creative person myself, I understand how hard it can be to pave your way in a world that seems to deem climbing the corporate ladder (with a complete disregard for happiness and fulfillment) as a passport to success. And hell, Seek is about as useful for creative job hunters as a nun with a handbag of prophylatics.

There’s also that book I’ve banging on about for years. I’m in the process of finalising my pitch and sending it out to agents. Promise.

But the thing I love the most about MWSG is our readers. I often get comments asking me if I’ve peeked into their diaries, and how I seem to know exactly what they are going through? “When I read your writing, I feel like you have looked into my soul.” That and nurturing the talents of my amazing team of writers is what brings me the greatest joy. 

What do you love about Australian culture? And what do you loathe?

I love the creative entrepreneurialism and European culture of Melbourne. I came for a holiday in 2001, and Melbourne got down on bended knee and begged for my hand in marriage. After flirting with the city on and off, I eventually moved from my hometown of Perth in 2008. We’ve never looked back.

I still adore the beaches and laid back lifestyle of Perth, but the mademoiselle in me resonates with the laneways and architecture of Melbourne. I wake every morning with this beautiful city whispering to me, “I have secrets, come and find them.”

I abhor the stereotypical bogan sub culture in Australia. Enough said.

Where are you favourite places to travel to and visit in Australia?

Byron Bay has a special place in my heart. It’s an amazing mix of eclectic sub cultures, and whilst I prefer walking around with shoes, it seems to have a special energy that reconnects me back to myself.

The motherland is always good to visit when I need to relax and unwind, especially swimming in the splendor of Cottesloe Beach (there’s no other beach like it in my book). And Sydney is always fun, but I always love hitting the tarmac at Tullamarine. Home.