Seventeen-year-old Josie is studying journalism and ends up at Sash magazine to do an internship. Josie has little enthusiasm for fashion and wants to be a serious journalist. But she has little choice. It’s Sash or the local cat fancier’s magazine.
Once at Sash, Josie comes to grips with the fact that the fashion industry isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Plus she has to contend with her fellow interns and the editor, Rae, who is in charge and arbitrary – one day Josie’s her hot new favorite, the next, who knows?
Country girl Josie also has to get used to living in the city, and sharing a small flat with her cousin Tim, and his hotter-than-hot roommate James, is an education. Things come to a head at Sash when Josie manages to connect with Billy, a troubled rock star. But a disastrous episode at a nightclub and the fallout on social media causes Josie to wake up and see the real person behind his glamorous front.
Melons. The girls. Gazongas. I could rattle off every
nickname in the world for my boobs — oops, nearly
forgot jubblies — but it didn’t change the fact they were
small. Embarrassingly small. Think grapes over melons,
fun-size bags over fun bags, shot glasses over jugs.
Which was why I shouldn’t have been surprised when
my boobs were the catalyst for squeals of laughter from
my younger sister, Kat, on the eve before an important
day. A Very Important Day.
‘Geez, put those puppies away,’ Kat smirked from my
bedroom doorway. ‘Some of us haven’t had lunch yet and
I’d hate to lose my appetite.’
I paused from rifling through piles of crumpled clothes
on my bed. ‘What? I don’t know what you —’
‘Just look down,’ said Kat, tossing her jet-black
ponytail. I hated when she did that.
Following her instructions, I looked down and saw
my left nipple peeking out of my bra. ‘Argh!’ I yelped,
yanking at the faded material. ‘Kat, get out! Get out!’
Kat cackled, then plonked onto my bed, squashing the
heaving mass of clothes. Too tired to argue, I sat down
next to her and double-checked that my boob hadn’t
made another escape.
Kat fussed with her thick fringe. ‘So, found something
to wear tomorrow, Jose?’
Broken shoes, stained shirts and fraying dresses burst
from the wardrobe, spilling into an unwearable mess. A
personal stylist would’ve come in handy to tell me why
I shouldn’t tape my sneakers together instead of buying
a new pair, and how to dress like a normal seventeenalmost-
‘Yep. Well, maybe. Probably. No. I’m screwed. My
sister just saw my boob and I’m screwed.’
Cursing, I lay back on the bed. Kat reapplied her gloss.
It smelled of cherries, reminiscent of summery desserts.
‘Hey Jose?’ she said.
‘I won’t tell anyone I saw your boob.’
‘Well, except Tye,’ Kat added. ‘I tell him everything.
You know, boyfriend rules and all that.’
I sighed. One of those melodramatic I-hate-my-life
sighs, where the air rushed up from the depths of my
stomach and exploded with a raging ‘whoosh’. But if Kat
noticed, she didn’t show it.
‘Hey Jose?’ she said again.
‘You’re going to have to look amazing tomorrow, you
‘I know.’ I know. I know. I know.
‘Amaaaazing. Seriously, tomorrow’s important. Mum’s
been yabbering to everyone about it.’
‘Heard you the first time.’
During the past few weeks, Kat had been firing off
tips about the Very Important Day. Wear this, don’t
wear that, do this, don’t do that, say this, don’t say
that. I knew she was trying to help me reduce the risk
of embarrassing myself, but it only made me more
panicked. You see, life loved handing me something
amazing, only to backhand me almost straight after.
It had always been that way. In Year Eight, after my
first kiss, the delectable Pete Jordan vomited from
food poisoning and hadn’t spoken to me since. At Year
Ten presentation night, I was named ‘Most Likely
To Succeed’, only to faceplant the ground as I walked
back to my seat. Some moron recorded my historic fall,
making me an overnight YouTube sensation. I won’t
even go into what happened at my Year Twelve formal,
although it involved a spiked punch bowl, ninety rolls
of toilet paper and a paddock of mud. I don’t know why
I thought the next day — the Very Important Day —
would be any different, but I was counting on a fairygodmother-
Most girls I knew, like Kat, spent their allowances or
pay on make-up, jewellery, fashion, music, phone credit
For me, magazines were a sparkly fantasy filled with
smiling, shiny people who looked too happy all the time.
That didn’t stop me from leafing through Kat’s magazines
when she was out, but instead of checking out the fashion
I was reading the feature stories, scoping out who wrote
them and looking for spelling mistakes.
I’d studied hard at high school for six years because
I was destined to be a news journalist at a newspaper
or radio station. So it had come as a huge shock to
everyone, including me, to discover I would be interning
at a magazine as part of my uni degree’s second semester
And not just any magazine. I’d been signed up to
(translation: pushed into) a one-day-a-week internship
at one of the hottest women’s magazines in the country,
When I told Kat my news, she was thirteen per cent
excited for me and eighty-seven per cent envious. In her
world, my inability to use a curling iron meant I didn’t
deserve the intern position. Her warning of ‘Don’t say
anything stupid to the Sash girls and ruin my chances of
working there one day’ hadn’t filled me with confidence.
Unless I underwent the world’s first personality transplant
between here and the city, I knew I’d find a way to put my
high-heeled foot in it.
Kat picked up a ratty floral dress from the top of the
pile and threw it into the bin near my desk.
‘Hey! What are you doing?’ I said. ‘I’ve had that for
‘Exactly,’ she shot back, rolling her blue eyes in a flurry
of mascara, eyeliner and eye shadow. ‘Tomorrow you
need to look hot and cool. You can’t wear your crappy
old clothes at a place like that. Now, here’s what I’m
I sighed and tuned out. I couldn’t handle another
one of Kat’s pep talks where she criticised my worn-out
sandals, mismatched socks, lack of bold lipstick, split
ends and under-plucked brows.
‘… so come on, it’s makeover time. We’re getting our
shop on,’ barked Kat, unaware that I’d been ignoring her
‘I’ll sort it. Trust me.’
Grunting in disbelief, Kat held up a daggy blue skirt
and waved it around. ‘This opportunity is wasted on
you — and your small boobs!’
She threw the skirt back onto the bed and stormed out,
her ponytail whipping behind her. I heard her bedroom
door slam — twice, just in case I missed the first. I held
the skirt up against my lower body and took in the
reflection grimacing back at me. Mousy brown hair,
scruffy but fine. Eyes, green and wide, easily my favourite
feature. Eyebrows, semi-unruly but manageable. Lips,
pouty and pink, no major complaints but occasionally
clownish. Nose, free from any wart-like protrusions so
doing okay. Boobs, small in size — obviously — but
apparently confident enough to jump free of brassiere at a
whim. Everything from the waist down blurred together:
hips, thighs and legs were all … just there.
I gazed at the skirt. Sure, I’d owned it for five years,
and it was a hand-me-down from my weird cousin
Tracey, but it was all I had. I needed another opinion.
‘Mum, can you come here for a sec?’
Moments later, Mum appeared in the doorway,
balancing an overflowing washing basket on one hip
and holding a bag of pegs. Her shaggy brown hair was
pulled into a loose bun at the nape of her neck and held
with a rusty peg. A fresh yellow daisy played peekaboo
from behind her right ear. Mum loved plucking flowers
from the garden and wearing them until they wilted.
Her dress — another bargain from the op shop — had
faded to a musky pink and clung to her body in all the
wrong places. But none of these things detracted from
her pretty features, which glowed without even a hint of
foundation, blush or mascara.
‘Yes, love?’ she asked, readjusting the basket on her
I held up the skirt. ‘How hideous is this? Would you
say it’s send-me-home-to-change hideous or let-me-staybut-
Mum shrugged, then patted me on the shoulder.
‘Josephine Browning, you always look gorgeous.’
‘You have to say that.’
‘Not true. When you were a child you had enormous
ears — reminded me of a baby elephant — and I was the
first person to point them out.’
‘But I do like that skirt.’
‘Kat reckons I need a new outfit — new dress, heels,
the works. You know, for tomorrow.’
‘Wait, is that my skirt? I thought I’d passed it on to
your cousin Tracey. I should’ve hung onto it if it’s back in
I forced a smile. Kat’s outburst about my lack of
options suddenly didn’t seem so hysterical. It was time to
admit defeat to the self-proclaimed fashion queen of the
house, which ranked number two on my Things I Hate
To Do List. (Number one: cross-country running.)
I knocked on Kat’s bedroom door with its Stay Out
sign sticky-taped above the doorknob. Rock music
pounded from within and I imagined her writing in her
diary about her ugly, frumpy, older sister. Either that, or
sneaking out the window to meet up with Tye. I doubted
she was dabbling in the rare option of cleaning her room,
although when it came to Kat I could never be sure.
The door cracked open. ‘Whaddya want?’
‘Um, what were you saying about the shops?’
‘Not another word, I hear your unfashionable cries
for help loud and clear,’ said Kat, scooping up a handbag
from the floor and swinging it over her shoulder. ‘Get
your wallet, Jose, because when we’re done you’re
definitely going to need it.’
I looked like a tarted-up pageant queen. As I stared into
the full-length mirror, all I could see was big green eyes,
big pink mouth, big bold jewellery, big bright patterns
and big high-heeled shoes. Everything was big, right
down to the price tags. I smelled like a perfumery and my
face itched from the foundation and bronzer caking my
skin. Kat beamed, admiring her work. She’d taken me on
a whirlwind tour of the department store, trialling makeup
products at every counter. Before I could stop her, she
called out to a saleswoman who was hovering nearby.
‘She looks amazing, right? Like, amazing,’ Kat said.
‘Oh yeah, amazing,’ gushed the woman, fuelled by the
anticipation of a sale. ‘Hon, you should seriously get that
I blushed, reminded of when Mum took me to buy my
first bra in Year Six and invited the shop owner into the
change room to admire my ‘growing buds’. Like Mum,
Kat had the intuition of a dead caterpillar when it came
to sensing my discomfort. I squeezed my wallet a little
tighter as the saleswoman circled me, eyeing me up and
down. She’d detected my fear the moment we’d walked
into the store and I’d cried out, ‘Is that a belt or a skirt?’
Mentally, I double-locked my piggy bank and buried it in
a safe three hundred metres below ground level, complete
with security guards and CCTV cameras.
I snuck another peek in the mirror and cringed at the
loud colours competing for my attention. The dress felt
tight, but Kat was convinced it fitted perfectly. I had to
admit, it was creating curves in places usually hidden by
baggy T-shirts or baby-doll dresses.
To my right, a mannequin wearing the same outfit,
down to the bright yellow peep-toes, was looking rather
fashionable. ‘How do you do it?’ I muttered to her.
‘Okay, I’ll say it: this is the best you’ve ever looked,’
said Kat. ‘Wear this tomorrow and you’ll kill it. That
dress is hot.’
‘Weren’t we aiming for hot and cool?’
Kat rolled her eyes. ‘Let’s not go crazy, Jose. It is you
we’re talking about.’
The saleswoman cleared her throat. ‘So do you want
to pay with cash or credit, hon?’
I ran through my wardrobe options at home one final
time. A montage of outdated playsuits, daggy dresses
and worn shoes danced in my mind, the blue skirt at the
forefront. I had no choice: I was getting the outfit.
I handed over the crumpled notes. There was no
turning back now.
Gabrielle Tozer is a senior features writer who has edited, sub-edited and written for several magazines, newspapers and anthologies throughout the past decade. In addition to Gabrielle’s work on Dolly, Cosmopolitan, DisneyGiRL, Mamamia and FamilyFun, she has also written for creative journals such as GOfish and Take It As Red. Born and bred in regional New South Wales, Gabrielle now works at Pacific Magazines and lives in the heart of Sydney.