Julie Bishop’s famous shoes. Picture: AAP
Julie Bishop’s famous shoes. Picture: AAP

Truth about Bishop’s famous red heels

JULIE Bishop has opened up about the challenges women face in politics and revealed why she really wore those famous red shoes in an interview with Vogue Australia.

Vogue's March edition also includes interviews with Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and Labor MP Linda Burney.

Ms Bishop wore the glamorous pair of heels as she announced her resignation as foreign minister in the wake of Malcolm Turnbull's knifing and her own crushing defeat in August's leadership ballot.

They contrasted strikingly with the sea of black shoes around her, and immediately became a symbol of feminine empowerment.

Julie Bishop’s iconic shoes. Picture: AAP/Lukas Coch
Julie Bishop’s iconic shoes. Picture: AAP/Lukas Coch

Ms Bishop has since donated the heels to the Museum of Australian Democracy in Canberra.

"As Australia's first foreign minister I always wanted to ensure that I made it easier, not harder, for other women to follow," she said at the time.

"If by gifting these red shoes I inspire just one young woman to aspire to enter public life, to aspire to be a foreign minister or indeed a prime minister, this gift will have been worth making."

In her interview with Vogue, Ms Bishop revealed she was not actually seeking to make any sort of statement with her choice of footwear.

"On the day you resigned as foreign minister you wore a pair of eye-catching red heels. What was behind that decision?" the magazine asked.

"Nothing as complicated as one might think!" Ms Bishop said.

"I always have a great pair of red heels and on that day I chose a rather sombre navy jacket and dress and thought I needed to bling it up, so I put on a pair I'd been saving for a special occasion.

"I wore them for myself, not to make a statement. Others saw it as a symbol of female empowerment, strength and independence."

Julie Bishop donating the shoes to the Museum of Australian Democracy. Picture: Kym Smith
Julie Bishop donating the shoes to the Museum of Australian Democracy. Picture: Kym Smith

Ms Bishop said the concepts of being "feminine and fashionable" and respected in politics at the same time were not "mutually incompatible".

"I try to be true to who I am. I've always been interested in fashion and I see no reason to change that," she said.

The Liberals' former deputy leader has been outspoken about her party's lack of female parliamentarians since she quit the frontbench.

She gave a remarkably blunt speech in September, condemning the "appalling behaviour" she had witnessed in parliament and telling the Liberals it was "not acceptable" for less than a quarter of their MPs to be women.

But Ms Bishop struck an optimistic tone in her Vogue interview, saying she felt "positive" about the opportunities for women in politics.

"We have a number of talented women on both sides who I feel sure will continue to make a significant contribution, but I'd like to see a significant increase on the Coalition side," Ms Bishop said.

"It's important to portray the positive side of public office. You have to make sacrifices, but you also get to be part of and witness moments that become history."

Julie Bishop after announcing her intention to quit politics. Picture: Kym Smith
Julie Bishop after announcing her intention to quit politics. Picture: Kym Smith

That message contrasts with the recent spate of resignations from senior government ministers, several of whom have spoken openly about the drawbacks of a life in politics.

"Federal politics is anti-family, full stop. Don't let anyone ever pretend otherwise," Steven Ciobo said over the weekend.

"You often see family breakdown that happens in federal politics. There would be a lot of other professions in which it would be the same."

Kelly O'Dwyer and Michael Keenan also cited family concerns as they announced they would quit at the election.

"In composing photo books and looking at the special moments over the Christmas period I've seen how many I have missed, and I know how many I will miss," Ms O'Dwyer said in January.

"I no longer want to consistently miss out on seeing my children when I wake up in the morning and when I go to bed at night."

Ms Bishop's message is that the unavoidable challenges to life balance that come with a career in politics can be worth it.

"I would certainly encourage any women considering entering politics to give me a call and I can give them the unvarnished perspective based on my 20 years in politics," she said.

Vogue's March edition is on sale now.

The cover of this month's Vogue magazine.
The cover of this month's Vogue magazine.

 

The shoes are now on display at Old Parliament House. Picture: Kym Smith
The shoes are now on display at Old Parliament House. Picture: Kym Smith

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