Guest Kween: LAURA BOUCHET “I’ve Felt Like An Imposter For Most Of My Career!”

Guest Kween: LAURA BOUCHET “I’ve Felt Like An Imposter For Most Of My Career!”

As I sat on the stage, my heart was thumping so loudly; I was certain the whole auditorium could hear it beat through my microphone.

A prickly heat rose through my body, my face was flushed and my eyes stung. I felt like if I took a breath, I was going to throw up right there in front of hundreds of my industry peers.

Let me digress for a second: I’m fully aware that so far this sounds like a middle-aged woman’s version of Eminem’s Lose Yourself but truth be told, I did feel very ‘8 Mile’ at the time. Okay, snap back to reality, I mean, back to my story!

Why was I, of all people, chosen to speak at this conference? “For god’s sake, don’t lift your arms, the sweat marks under there look like you’ve absorbed a swimming pool” Shit, I’ve been asked a question. “Why me? WHAT THE HELL DO I SAY NOW??!!”

This moment was meant to be the highlight of my radio career. I was supposed to sit in front of these people and speak about what I knew.

In a hazy blur (kind of like the camera work on The Blair Witch Project), I fumbled my way through the conference. People applauded, some even thanked me afterwards. Liars. That was a train wreck. I was a total imposter!

The next evening at the industry awards night, the same fools who asked me to speak on stage decided I would also win the highest accolade I could achieve for my job, ‘Best Show Producer’.

It was a huge honour but there wasn’t a single part of my soul that could enjoy any of it. I woke up the next morning with a feeling of dread and a terrible ache in my heart. I couldn’t stop thinking someone was going to knock on my door and tell me there’d been a terrible mistake. That I’d have to hand the trophy back. That I didn’t deserve it.

Hi, I’m Laura and for the past 12-ish years, I’ve been producing radio. Award winning number 1 radio.

Yep, but before I got here, I worked my butt off. From barbecuing sausages at promo events to stuffing prizes into padded envelopes; I got dirty, I woke up early, I stayed back late and I often did it for free.

I’ve now spent over a decade working with some of the most successful and respected media personalities in Australia and won ‘even’ more awards. I’ve also mentored young producers who have gone on to have their own brilliant careers.

Yet no matter how far up the ladder I climbed, that familiar waft of barbecued sausages from my first day would follow me. I was constantly waiting for someone to tap me on the shoulder, rip me down off that ladder and say out loud the words that were continually taunting me in my head “You don’t belong here”.

What I had was a giant, crippling dose of Imposter Syndrome.

To save you googling it, here’s the Wiki definition of ‘Imposter Syndrome’.

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’.

Doubts their accomplishments.  Check.

Fears being exposed as a fraud. Check. Check. Check.

Did I just win Imposter Syndrome Bingo?

Did you just call out “Bingo” too?

Imposter Syndrome is more common than I ever imagined, and it is particularly prevalent among women. Why? Well, probably for many, many reasons.

Here are some of the reasons I’ve identified based on my own experience:

A tendency to shrink around men. I really want to preface this by stating I love the industry I belong to, and the opportunities it’s presented me with. Like so many industries though, it is heavily dominated by men. Strong men with big personalities. Men who shine and command attention when they walk into a room. Have you ever shrunk yourself in the presence of a strong, shiny man? I sure have, countless times. These men, by the way, have every right to shine but it does not mean we have to shrink. Shrinking yourself only fuels Imposter Syndrome.

Common messages we hear, we think, we even say about other women.

They must have slept their way to the top.”

“They’re wearing their ‘close the deal’ skirt today.”

“Grow some balls.”

“You have to be more of a bitch to get ahead.”

You get the idea. Quite often it’s said in jest. But these shitty words are telling us that it’s unusual for women to succeed through hard work, intelligence and a career plan. This too fuels Imposter Syndrome.

Comparisons with other people. For me, that ‘other person’ was my own husband. (Yes, we are the clichéd product of a chance meeting by the office photocopier).

For a number of years, my husband and I were professional rivals, producing the #1 and #2 radio shows in Sydney; from within the same building.

It was a pretty sweet arrangement for the most part. Until my show beat his to the #1 spot.

He was gracious in defeat (at least to my face), but it was the innocent comments from other people that triggered old mate ‘Imposter Syndrome’ to flair up again.

“How’s HE doing?”

“Is HE okay?”

“I bet you’ll be cooking him his favourite dinner tonight!”

I couldn’t allow myself to enjoy that success. All I felt was that HE missed out on something that he deserved, therefore I didn’t deserve it at all.

Maternity Leave. When I returned to work nine months after having my little angel/spawn of Satan, my Imposter Syndrome was at an all-time high.

It didn’t matter that I had a supportive employer and a team who eagerly welcomed me back with open arms. This stupid stigma around getting knocked up and taking time out to birth a child remained, at least in my head. I felt like an Etch a Sketch. My career had been shaken clean and I had to prove myself all over again. And how on Earth was I going to fool them a second time?! Changing my identity from career woman to mother, to career woman/mother was a complete head-fuck.

Imposter Syndrome is an exhausting beast. It held me back from taking on new challenges. It stopped me from growing. But, the good news… Imposter Syndrome is totally unnecessary and surprisingly simple to let go of.

Here’s how I’m doing it:

I started doing massive cannonballs into swimming pools. I’m being extremely literal here. I used to be the ‘cautious, ease myself up to my waist then stand on my toes and gasp as the cold water hit my ribs’ kind of swimmer. Until I realised I was letting irrational fear and a bit of discomfort get in the way of my swimming time. So, instead, I took a run up and bombed the shit out of that pool. You can see the symbolism here, right? 

When I stopped timidly easing myself into the water, I stopped timidly easing myself into life. I realised I was never afraid that I was not good enough. I was afraid of my own freaking success. I was scared to make a splash. I was scared to shine!

I CHOOSE how I feel. This will freak you out but, an extremely wise woman told me that the physical feeling of anxiety (refer to the first lines of my Eminem-style prose) is the same physical feeling as excitement! Whenever I’m in a situation where I get that response in my body, I change the label to excitement. And it works for me every time.

I celebrate my wins. Big or small wins, it doesn’t matter. I reward myself with a beer, a fancy dinner, or a new pair of shoes. And I make sure I enjoy every delicious moment of it. Not because it might not happen again, but because I earned it.

I repeat weird little mantras to myself. Like this one (you’ve probably seen your grammar pedant friends post a similar line on FB) ‘With Imposter Syndrome, you know you’re shit. Without it, you know your shit’.

This is not a modern day, happily ever after fairy tale by the way. In fact, there’s probably no ending to this at all. I still have many moments where that dreaded feeling kicks in. But it doesn’t control me anymore. I’ve decided that who I am is more than good enough AND if I need a reminder, I find myself a swimming pool.

Bombs away. xx

Laura is an award-winning radio producer who has worked with some of Australia’s most loved media personalities. She met her husband at the work photocopier and together they’re raising a mini-copy of themselves, little Juliette. Laura once got busted asking a colleague if she was ‘prettier than Giuliana Rancic’ by none other than Giuliana Rancic. 🤣

Laura also enjoys making drunk purchases on Ebay, because it feels like Christmas every time the delivery guy knocks on the door with a surprise package.

📸: @laurambouchet

The disappearing act that is anything but magic.

The disappearing act that is anything but magic.

Funny. This was going to be a post about how blissfully happy I was.

Yep, surprisingly, ridiculously, over the moon happy.

For the month of Jan, I was alcohol-free, back in the dating game, killing it at work; in control of my life. Things could not have been more magical.

My best friend joked that I should shut down the #STFTL blog “What will you have to write about now that you’re happy?”

SPOILER ALERT: turns out. A fucking LOT! Welcome to the black magic show.

For the last 31 days, I was seeing this guy.

A guy who was all levels of wonderful. He was sweet, kind, thoughtful. He left me voice memos every morning before work and in the evening when he was on his way home. He messaged me while he was at his desk in the office. He called me before he went to sleep at night. He wanted to see me on the weekends. Saturday and Sunday.

We didn’t drink when we were together. There was no need for wine to spark chemistry. We had coffee dates, went for walks in the park and sat for romantic meals. We made out in public. We were intimate behind closed doors.

He pursued me. It was a lot. I liked the attention. I was wary at first. But it was like a drug, the more he gave, the more I wanted. I got used to the interaction, almost like it was normal. I forgot what I did with my time without it. Friends claimed we were in a love bubble. I thought so too. Until that bubble popped, with a bang.

Our relationship escalated quickly, but not in a way where it was ‘too good to be true’, in the way like it was ‘supposed to be’. He met my friends and didn’t seemed rattled, I cooked for him at his place, and he didn’t get food poisoning. I thought to myself: is this what people mean when they have found ‘the one’?

I told myself “Don’t be stupid!” This isn’t ‘the one’. But my god. What if it was? People who end up together, always state “You know, when you know”. Was this the universe letting me know?

There were no games. No bullshit. It just was. Until it wasn’t.

You see as a female, who’s been single for most of her life, you become accustomed to a certain behaviour or lifestyle. You’ve read all the self-help books and watched all the rom-coms. And regardless of what you were brainwashed to believe as a young girl, you know how these things really play out. You’ve learnt the hard way.

When you thought it was right: it was wrong.

When you thought he was into you: he wasn’t.

When you thought it was serious: he just wanted to fuck you.

When you thought it was exclusive: welcome to the other five women he was seeing at the same time.

You remember when you were first blindsided. You recall the moment you first put your wall up. You try to forget the time your heart first snapped in half. These days you look for every one of those signs, to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

To get through this, you tell jokes about only attracting ‘fuck boys’ and how you’re destined to be a cat lady. You make no rules when it comes to dating. You always follow his lead at the start, because you’ve been wrong before. So many times before. 

You now know not to get your hopes up. You’re always waiting for the fall out. You get used to what it’s like to be alone. You train yourself to be comfortable with being alone. 

You preach that you’re not the kind of girl who enters a relationship lightly; but boy, do you want the heavy.

You crave the all-consuming-breath-taking-swept-off-your-feet-music-playing-in-the-background-roll-the-credits heavy feeling of falling for someone, who’s equally falling for you. Dare I write it, you might just want the fairy tale?

You are now tough. Hard. The edges form when you smile, when you say hello, when you laugh loudly at a dinner party.

Deep down you know you only want to be loved and that this toughness you project to the world is just a facade; an armor you built from no one ever really loving you. You now think it’s impossible for someone to love you, because it hasn’t happened yet. You believe it never will.

So, when someone shows you the opposite, that you could be loved. You believe them instead. Almost straight away.

You’re too much. You’re an acquired taste. So, this must be special.

Someone has finally figured out how to want you. How to love you. You’ve been waiting your whole life to be this happy. But you also know your heart can’t cope with misinterpreting the signs again.

You’ve been the giddy one: when you receive a text after the first date. You’ve felt the butterflies: after the first kiss. But you’ve also left his place in tears: after the first time you slept together because what the night was before, is no longer in the light.

So, you’re careful not to get it confused. You’re cautious.

You know these events have made you difficult and bitter and complicated and sad. You know these feelings all too well, like a second skin. You’ve learnt to wear it well though. You now dress it up. Make it look pretty for everyone to see.

You know all of this because this isn’t your first rodeo. You know what you sound like and what you look like when you get caught up in these moments. You know the danger.

You’ve gushed to everyone about ‘the boy’ before and then had to take it back. You’ve seen that look in your friend’s eyes before when you talk about another failed attempt at a relationship. You know what you now put out into the world. You’re jaded.

So, you’re careful, so very, very cautious to not do it again.

Until you do.

Here you go once more, you’re caught up in the ecstasy of it. He’s saying all the right things, he’s doing all the right things, how could you be wrong this time? No, this time it’s real.

You write messages about how cute he is, or how you miss him because there’s no need to hide how you feel; he’s reaching out and responding in the exact same way. You don’t want to think it’s going to end because that’s maybe why it always does? You remain optimistic.

You tell your friends you’re seeing someone because it’s been going on for a while now. You haven’t told all your friends though, just in case. Your past experiences have you always slightly clinging to the ‘just in case’.

You tell yourself to not be negative. Then you constantly fear you’ll ruin it with your insecurities and self-doubt.

What if this goes away? What will you say? What will you do this time? How can you go back to how your life was before?

You don’t want to go back to being the strong girl, the funny girl, the drunk girl, the girl who is excited for her friends but never for herself.

What if it all disappears?

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Well…

When someone decides to disappear, there’s no magic in it at all.

If you were a part of the decision, you’d be brave in front of them and everyone else too. You would come to terms with it eventually. Even though it’s killing you.

If you were a part of the decision, there would be a conversation, a phone call, a voice memo, a text; evidence to loop you in. How the communication began, is how you think it will end. You at least deserve that; you can be adults about it.

Right? No.

When someone decides without you, it’s childish. So, you act like a child. You transform into the narrative of the ‘crazy person’.

There’s no answer. Except the obvious one, that it’s over. You somehow still want answers. But it isn’t wrapped up in a conversation, a phone call, a voice memo, a text… it’s silence. It’s the phone ringing to voicemail, it’s no blue ticks in a Whatapp chat, it’s a simple delete from a dating app.

You follow this with more acts of desperation than you ever care to dial or send or admit but something takes over you. You’re angry. You’re devastated. You act like a two-year-old.

You don’t hold back because there’s nothing left to lose. Except your dignity but you’ve lost that before.

You prove him right, again and again by doing all the things you’d swear you‘d never do; adding to the story line of ‘the psycho girl I used to date’.

You over-justify in your explanations to your friends as to ‘why’ you texted and called so many times, but you don’t tell them all the details because you know you’ve gone too far.

The silence is deafening. But it’s loud. So loud. Why did you get to be ‘the one’ to decide? How are you making this bold move but dancing like a coward at the same time?

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Hang on a minute. Why don’t I just accept it? And move on?

For so long you’ve claimed that you wouldn’t ‘settle for average’, that you’d rather be ‘alone than lonely’ in a relationship. So, what the fuck are you doing giving into this shit?

You’d tell your friend she didn’t deserve this, that it’s for the best he disappeared!! So why the hell are YOU being like this?

Because. Because you knew things had changed. You asked him, you gave him an out; offering multiple doors to exit. But he said no, everything is fine. So, you believed him. You put it down to being paranoid again.

You’re embarrassed, humiliated that you’re so emotional over someone who’s blatantly disregarded you.

But slow your roll sister, you’ve had this before.

Right? Yes.

So, why is this still destroying you?

Because. Because the little girl inside of you is struggling to figure out how she could once again fall for someone so sweet, so kind, so thoughtful. A person who is now this kind of evil.

You attack yourself first. Over think. Over analyse.

Because he set the pace and you went along for the ride.

You only expected him to message because he messaged you all the time. You couldn’t put the phone down without another vibration. You only expected him to call because he called you all the time. Like that time he drove back and forth to Brighton. You only expected to see him this weekend because there was a time when he wanted to see you every weekend. Saturday and Sunday. 

Making plans became your ‘go to dialogue’. Plans for your birthday, plans for Valentine’s Day, plans for Christmas, the future…

Nevertheless, you were deleted from his world, as fast as you were let in. You were hopeful, fearless, happy, though you were wrong, once again. 

One Thursday afternoon, after I messaged you ‘Freezing! How’s your day?’ You went away.

I doubled checked if I sent too many messages in a row. Was I now asking too much? No, I was responding to your message of ‘How cold are you this morning?’ I go back to our last phone conversation. Had I said too much? No, we chatted about mundane things like what you had for dinner.

You went away. You decided you were done. You decided not to tell me why. It didn’t make sense. So, my ugly grew.

I’m not proud of what was next. I will always regret how I reacted to you finishing it.

I thought if I spat enough venom, you’d get fed up and finally bite back. I’d hear from you. I’d hear the words, instead of the words and reasons and scenarios I’m making up in my mind. But I know nothing.

There’s one thing I do know though. I swear that this would never have been my reaction to a rational, respectful, honest end.

The disappearing act is not a magical thing. It’s designed to point out your flaws and faults. It’s designed to make you think it was all your doing. Because that’s what you do when someone disappears, you blame yourself first.

The only magic that actually appears, is the proof that this was never right to begin with. But that doesn’t matter at the time.

The disappearing act comes in many forms, it can be the loss of one’s feelings; off it goes like a switch. The blocking of a mobile number; off it goes like a switch. The flip of your stomach; off it goes like a switch. The youth of today call it ‘ghosting’; off it goes… nope it doesn’t work for that one.

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The problem with ghosts though, they haunt you.

Where did you go? Where did we go? What did I do? Will this haunt me forever?

I know sometimes it’s easier to just disappear. But all it really does is just prolong the toxic finale; tarnishing anything that was ever good or decent between you both. It encourages a monster to appear from the cloud of smoke and act out in a disgraceful way. Because there’s no grace in disappearing. There’s no applause.

It’s gutless. It’s cruel. It’s not necessary.

The only thing worse than being broken up with, is realising that someone didn’t even consider to break up with you.

Next time someone says it ended badly because ‘they were mental’, ‘they wouldn’t stop messaging me’. Ask yourself why they went mental, why they wouldn’t stop contacting that person. Ask yourself if you want to be next?

My only regret is I believed his version of the events. I’m ashamed that I believed him over her. I should have believed her.

Tonight, I write a post about how miserable I am. How utterly depressed these series of events have made me.

You disappeared. You are a ghost to me now. And I should be thankful for that. I will one day be thankful. Sadly, it’s not today.

Yep, unlike the fairy tales, not everything that happens to you as a grown woman has a ‘happily ever after’. So, no best friend, this blog will exist. The fairy tales are still lying to me.

Are they lying to you too?

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Carmela is an Aussie in London with wanderlust. A TV/Radio rebel. Fierce feminist. Loud laugh-er. Emotional eat-er. Pop culture cat. Red wine wooer and karaoke kween. She hopes that her experiences are just like yours, funny, warm, loud, raw and that maybe you can figure out this thing called ‘life’ together. #YasssKween 🙌🏼

Meet CARMELA CONTARINO: The Power Kween Behind ‘So The Fairy Tales Lied…’

Meet CARMELA CONTARINO: The Power Kween Behind ‘So The Fairy Tales Lied…’

How much do you really know about Carmela Contarino: the woman behind your fav fem blog ‘So The Fairy Tales Lied…‘?

Did you know she’s Australian? (From a small town called Bunbury, Western Australia.) But spent her 20s in Sydney and now resides in London? Yasss, she’s a big city gal now!

Did you know as a child, she was chubby, rocked an afro/mullet, had too much body hair and was teased mercifully for looking a ‘bit like a boy’? Luckily, this birthed oodles of personality, a wicked sense of humour, a resilient attitude and effortless unique style: hello headscarves and colour clashing!!

Did you know as a young girl, Carmela was a competitive dancer and had her own Hip Hop/Funk/Jazz dance school (which opened the door to 200 students) at 19? These days though, she mostly dances like Ellen.

Did you know at the age of 24, she also had her own breakfast radio show in the biggest commercial market in Australia? She’s met and interviewed most A-list celebrities but she has also worked most minimum-wage jobs too, like being a hairdresser’s receptionist, waitress, bartender and shop assistant. Yep, she can pour a mean beer! She’s now the talent booker and entertainment content producer for the Bauer Media Group in the UK looking after radio (KISS/Magic/Absolute), print (Heat/Closer) and digital.

Did you know she auditioned for Idol, X Factor, Big Brother but ended up casting talent for those TV shows instead? Carmela’s vice now is drunk karaoke: better known as Trashioke. 

Did you know at the age of 33, she’s never really had a ‘proper’ boyfriend? (No one she’s introduced to her parents or brought over to the family home for Christmas lunch.) Cue the numerous awkward convos with Uncles: “So do you have a special man in your life? Or woman?”

Did you know her idols are Bette Midler, Whoopi Goldberg, Lena Dunham and Taylor Swift? Because, obviously.

Did you know she’s still close with her friends from primary/high school? That group and the people she surrounds herself with today, are the inspo behind #STFTL.

Of course you don’t! Because 70% of stories on ‘So The Fairy Tales Lied…‘ are about and written by other wonderful, fabulous and brave women and men (which Carmela couldn’t be more proud of).

So, how did Carmela end up being who she is today? Is it the roller coaster of her colourful past?

Why does she champion and cherish other women so fiercely? Why is her mum one of her best friends?

Why does she have utter compassion for the underdog or someone down on their luck?

Find out as Carmela exclusively opens up about her world to Greg Stocks on his podcast ‘Life Chats With Greg’.

 

Carmela is an Aussie in London with wanderlust. A TV/Radio rebel. Fierce feminist. Loud laugh-er. Emotional eat-er. Pop culture cat. Red wine wooer and karaoke kween. She hopes that her experiences are just like yours, funny, warm, loud, raw and that maybe you can figure out this thing called ‘life’ together. #YasssKween 🙌🏼

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Guest Kween: SIMONE WHALAN “What Happens After You ‘Wait’ Till Marriage!”

Guest Kween: SIMONE WHALAN “What Happens After You ‘Wait’ Till Marriage!”

Having someone you love and know really cherishes you is special and rare but greater than that, is having someone who loves and cherishes you, when you are going through your toughest times.

This year, I will be celebrating 12 years of marriage to my husband Andrew.

We wanted to build a life-long marriage of 50-60 years, so we knew we needed to build strong foundations from the start and not just get swept up in the excitement of a new relationship. I always wanted my first time to be with my husband on our wedding night. For me it meant that I was completely in this relationship; that my whole heart was in it.

We had both been hurt in relationships before and hurt others too. I had spent time healing, becoming confident in myself and with being on my own before needing another relationship. I had learnt to love myself more than ever and wasn’t reliant on needing that love from someone else to be ok anymore.

I was drawn to Andrew’s joy and quirkiness; which seem to fit with me perfectly.

We met in Melbourne. Andrew asked me out while I was living there but I felt I wasn’t ready to commit. Andrew waited and asked me out again once I moved back to WA.

Long distance relationships can be tricky but also really great. We spent the time getting to know each other by writing letters. Each week we would ask questions and answer them in the next letter. Some questions were fun and silly but some were also tough: like what were our strengths, weaknesses and insecurities. We were honest and vulnerable but we were invested in trying to understand each other.

Eventually, Andrew moved over to WA to spend time getting to know my family as well and boy, did he romance me. There was no denying this man truly adored me. He spent a whole night filling up my room with balloons (which he blew each by mouth) just to surprise me, he took me on picnics, and he asked me to marry him one morning, after a beautiful walk along the beach. Those times were amazing and we married in May 2007.

We moved back to Melbourne and began our life together. There were some big adjustments.

Let’s be honest, I was not great with having my own house, living with someone 24/7 and suffered some serious home sickness. But it wasn’t until two years into our marriage, that we had our first big test.

Just before our wedding, I had found out my dad had died. I hadn’t seen him since I was little, so I shut down my emotions and said I would deal with it later. I was ok to never look at it again but I became withdrawn, unhappy and just not myself; this grief was trying to come out and it was scaring me.

Andrew was also struggling with the fact that this person he married, wasn’t the same person he fell in love with. But Andrew gave me space and didn’t try to fix me or change me. We went on a road trip to outback South Australia and met my dad’s family, visited his grave and I finally grieved.

I knew there would be a time when I would return the favour and be strong for him too.

Following on, we continued living in the city of Melbourne, running our own cafe for a couple of years and enjoying married life once more.

In that time, we had three children in four years and needless to state, life got busy, really busy. I struggled after the birth of our second child (later to realise it was PND) and at the same time the pressure was mounting for Andrew.

I had noticed that Andrew and I weren’t talking as much and he didn’t quite seem himself but at the end of the day when the kids were asleep, we were both exhausted too, so I would put it down to that. This went on for six months (maybe more) until we finally talked and I learnt that the heaviness of life and fatherhood was affecting him.

This was now my time to be brave for him, to listen, give him space and help him get the support of family and friends.

From these difficult times, things needed to change: like making sure we both have a ‘time out’ from the kids, see our friends and do things we both enjoy. We acknowledge that these are simple things, but they’re also the first things we both drop or forget when life gets a bit too much.

It’s easier writing all this down now but as someone who has always struggled to open up about her feelings, it can still be a challenge. I guess, I grew up believing this lie that no one really cared about what I thought or felt, so I shouldn’t express it. I now choose every day to speak up and be honest instead of letting this lie rule my life and relationship.

Learning to communicate freely with each other, without fear of judgement has been the greatest tool we have.

If we hadn’t spent that time at the start of our relationship to really get to know and respect each other, would things be different? I’m sure there are always going to be misunderstandings and rough times in a relationship, no matter how strong your foundation is. But I do believe, building our strong foundation, gave our relationship the best chance it had to succeed.

For my children, I hope they will see what a relationship of love and honour is like from us directly and that they will not settle for less. I want my children to be able to build life-long relationships too and to become the men and women who know who they are and what they are worth.

In these 12 years there has been a lot of laughs, and yes, at times many tears too. We have had some incredible years together and some years, we are just happy we managed to survive. We know that with children, the daily routine of life and being human, there will always be trials. But I am thankful every day that I have my best friend and my partner for life by my side, ready for whatever life throws at us next.

Simone is a 30 something living in Melbourne. She is a wife, mother of 3 and lover of all things bright and colourful. Is there such thing as too much colour? Simone doesn’t think so!

📸: @me_as_mum

5 reasons we’re all here for DUMPLIN’ (and why your inner Kween needs to watch it stat!!)

5 reasons we’re all here for DUMPLIN’ (and why your inner Kween needs to watch it stat!!)

Dumplin' (2018)

‘Dumplin’ is the plus-size, teenage daughter of a former beauty queen, who signs up for her mum’s pageant as a protest that escalates when other contestants follow her footsteps, revolutionizing the pageant and their small Texas town.’

5. The unexpected, celebrated but totally necessary new-kind of female lead.

Netflix and chill? More like Netflix and brill!! Ok, that didn’t quite work BUT… how fucking great is it that the last couple of teen-based movies to come out of Netflix (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Sara Burgess Is A Loser to name a few) have all had these incredible female lead characters of all these different shapes and sizes!? I die!

While watching Dumplin‘ my heart simply burst with joy and not to overplay the ‘bigger girl’ card but my lord, I wish there were these kinds of chick flicks around when I was younger; oh to have grown up in a world where healthy representations of women existed on the silver screen. I mean, the only storyline that was drummed into my pre-pubescent brain was ‘the guy notices the girl once she’s changed everything about her appearance’. Yawn! Gross!! So firstly, bravo Netflix and secondly, thank you.

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The role of Willowdean is played by the relatively unknown gem of an Aussie Danielle Mcdonald, who effortlessly brings this feisty, fabulous and fucking real character to life.

And spoiler alert: SHE GETS THE GUY IN THE END without changing a single god damn thing about her fine self. Yasss!

OR may I add, without the male lead (Luke Benward) tearing down another female character in the process. GOALS!

There are so many wonderfully relatable moments in this movie. One in particular involving Willowdean’s first kiss with dreamboat Bo and ahhhhh seriously, just kick me right in the feels why don’t you!!

4. Team Jen

Putting my Friends-obsessed self to the side for a minute, Dumplin’ is the Jennifer Aniston movie we never asked for but always needed. Jen totally shines in the part of Willowdean’s former beauty queen mother; serving all the sass but proving once again, that it’s impossible to dislike her, even if she’s occasionally playing an uptight mole!

Jen also is the Executive Producer of the movie and the driving force behind the ah-mazing Dolly Parton-themed movie soundtrack; even to the point of getting Dolly personally involved herself. Bless!!

But for those playing at home: if Rachel left Ross, moved to Texas and raised Emma on her own with Aunt Monica, THIS could also be the Friends movie we’ve all been frothing for as well. 😉

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3. Drag In The Kweens Pleeeeease! 

Gone are the days (thank god) when the popular girl in high school decides to give the misfit a makeover and all of the sudden everything is a-ok.

It’s now very clear that: Honeeeey, if you really want a proper ‘do over’ (starting with the inside out), send in the drag queens.  And who better than some of our Ru Paul favs. Riiiight?

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2. The feel good quotes to ONLY live your life by.

This movie covers all the big hard stuff: loss, death, betrayal, body image, loneliness, feminism (so have the tissues ready).

But if you take anything away from watching Dumplin’, it’s the quotes below:

“Go big, or go home.”

“If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain.”

“Figure out who you are and do it on purpose.”

“It’s hard being a diamond, in a rhinestone world.”

“If you’ve got it, flaunt it!”

“I’m not the Joan of Arch of fat girls.”

“Join the revolution in heels.”

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1. Hello Dolly!

Must I go on? Yes, of course I should!

There is no doubt in my mind that the linchpin of this entire movie is the music of Dolly Parton. From Jolene to Here You Come Again (my personal fav), Dolly’s voice sets every scene on fire and gives it that little bit more tug of the heart strings.

The story of Dumplin’ matched with Dolly’s heart-wrenching lyrics, has had me streaming the ‘Dolly greats’ for over a week now: it’s like listening to her for the first time all over again. It really is a perfect pair!

So, do yourself a favour (😋) and watch this movie immediately and then download the soundtrack on Spotify straight after! This is the feel good movie of 2018. Yeeeha.

Guest Kween: REBBECCA D’ROZARIO “I’m Sorry, There Is No Heartbeat.”

Guest Kween: REBBECCA D’ROZARIO “I’m Sorry, There Is No Heartbeat.”

There it was, a few small words, flashing on a little screen of a super high-tech digital stick… ‘Pregnant 2-3 weeks’.

It was 4.30am, the day after Father’s Day. I was so excited. Yes, I couldn’t wait till a more decent hour to pee on that bloody thing!

As I stared at the words I knew my life was never going to be the same. I already felt different, after decades of hating so much about my body, I was finally so in love and appreciative of it. I was going to be a Mummy.

I ran into our bedroom to wake my now-hubby and presented him with his belated Father’s Day gift. Half asleep he opened one eye: “You’re going to be a Daddy!”, it was one of the happiest moments of my life.

Over the next two weeks the symptoms came on thick and fast; sore boobs, constant nausea, complete and utter exhaustion, and being repulsed by the smell of cooking meat. I reveled in all of it; I thought it meant my baby was growing strong and safe.

Then the spotting started.

I remember googling ‘spotting in early pregnancy’. All the articles said it was normal. ‘Implantation spotting’ was what they called it. All the mummy bloggers stated the same thing: nothing to worry about. Regardless, I made an appointment to see my doctor.

I had blood tests every second day for a week, my HCG levels were still increasing… everything must be ok. I was sent for an early ultrasound just to make sure everything was looking ok too. The technician said I was measuring 6 weeks, even though I was technically 7 weeks. “Its normal to be a week or two out” she said. “I can’t see a heartbeat, but it may be because it’s too early”.

I knew in my soul that things weren’t right.

That night, with my arms wrapped around my belly, I spoke to our peanut and told it that under no circumstances was it to leave my warm comfy belly until I said so. I then prayed and pleaded to God, the powers that be, the universe, Mother Nature, Mohammad and anyone else I could think of who might be listening, to please please protect my peanut and keep it safe.

It was early Sunday morning, there was no longer spotting, there was bright red terrifying blood.

We called the Healthline and were told to go straight to the hospital. I was too scared to breathe, let alone cry on the way there. I started to talk in my head to our peanut again, begging for it to hold on, telling it how much it was wanted.

When we arrived, I was taken into a room and was examined. “Cervix still intact, everything looks normal, but we wont know until we can get another ultrasound, you’ll need to come back Wednesday when the technician is back in”.

I remember feeling sick that my baby could be dying inside me for another two whole days and there was nothing I could do about it.

The next two days felt like 20 years, and still the blood came. I burst into tears every time I went to the bathroom. I cried every hour of those two days. I lied in bed each night willing my body to hold my insides in, praying and telling our peanut how it needed to stay nestled safe inside because it was so loved, so so loved.

Wednesday morning came and so did the blood. I weeped during the examination, and not because of the pain or all the blood, but because I knew what was to come.

The ultrasound confirmed our nightmare: “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat. You are nine weeks along but only measuring seven weeks.”

The earth split completely in half, as did my heart. I was told that my body was not expelling the fetus, and because it stopped growing two weeks prior, I was at risk of infection or other complications.

I was offered to go home and wait to see over the next two days, if my body would naturally pass my baby and if it didn’t, I’d have to come back and have a D&C. Or I could have one there and then.

I couldn’t believe this was happening. I couldn’t breathe. I just broke down. I decided to have the procedure, I couldn’t stand the thought of my baby being dead inside me.

Before the procedure I had to make one of the hardest phone calls I’ve ever made.

Dad picked up the phone and I could barely get any words out, I was drowning in my own tears “Dad, I’m at the hospital, I need to have surgery. I’ve had a miscarriage.” We hadn’t even told our families, we were following the 12 week rule, which in hindsight is one of the most stupid things I’ve ever heard of, and whoever started that ‘trend’ needs a good solid kick to the shin!

Hubby and I decided to take a break for a year so I could recover and focus on enjoying our newlywed bliss for a while. We are still hopeful of becoming a family in the future.

This was my first experience with miscarriage, and unfortunately it wasn’t my last. I suffered another excruciating miscarriage just two months later.

Yes, I found out I was pregnant for the second time on Boxing Day. I lost the baby at seven weeks. Every year it’s hard because it’s another year we don’t have either baby to celebrate Christmas with.

You definitely feel the loss more at special times of the year, and especially on your due dates. They used to be just a random date in the calendar but after the loss of a baby (or 2) those random dates become days of hollowness and reflection.

I light a candle on each of my due dates, as well as the dates I miscarried, to acknowledge our loss and as a symbol of hope for our future babies.

No one talks about miscarriage and how common it is until it happens to you. They don’t tell you that 1 in 3 pregnancies won’t make it past the first three months. They don’t tell you how painful it is, both physically and mentally. They don’t tell you how betrayed you will feel by your own body or how to cope with the immense and all-consuming guilt.

It’s so important that the grief surrounding the loss of a pregnancy, the loss of a baby and the loss of all the possibilities and dreams of the future is something that is validated by society.

This is why we must discuss and diminish the taboo surrounding miscarriage, so that women no longer suffer in silence.

Rebbecca works as a HR consultant in the public sector, is fur-mumma to her gorgeous puppy Benni, and is a freshly down the aisle newlywed. She is currently honeymooning around the world with her new-hubby, both of which are self-proclaimed geeks, and tragic Harry Potter fans with the tattoos to prove it.

Rebbecca is also incredibly grateful to Sands Australia for their support during her time of need.

Sands is a miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death charity. They operate across Australia assisting anyone affected by the death of a baby.

Sands has five key information services for bereaved families, including their National support line (available 24/7), live chat, email support, men’s service, and a network of local groups as well.

Kween Krush: LUCY FORD “Red Carpet Realness, Showbiz Secrets And Viral Victory.”

Kween Krush: LUCY FORD “Red Carpet Realness, Showbiz Secrets And Viral Victory.”

Kween Krush alert!! This is where we celebrate everyday women for being complete badass Wonder Women.

Roll out the red carpet: Lucy Ford, we have a blockbuster premiere-size crush on you! Yep, not only are you the coolest cat on the scene, who’s interviewing the cream of the ‘movie and music’ crop. But you’re totes adorbes. We love the cut of your jib (dat effortless style sista) and you’ve seriously got your finger on the pulse when it comes to what’s hot and what’s not. Not to forget to mention, the best taste in boybands and cult chick flicks. And forgive me but we can’t not mention Reece Witherspoon and that viral moment, riiiight? But, once the internet falls in love with you, what happens next?

So… let’s start from the very beginning. How did you come to be one of the most prominent entertainment reporters in the UK?

Well, that is very kind of you to lie like that! In all honesty, I was extremely lucky to get where I am today. I did a postgraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism after university, and the aim was always to end up working somewhere in entertainment. I worked in local radio news for a bit before moving to Istanbul to work for a world news TV network. Whilst I was there I applied for my job (kind of on a whim) during a very quiet late shift. Despite having no experience in showbiz or with celebs, my now-boss took a chance on me: and the rest is history!

Was showbiz, showbiz, showbiz always what you thought you’d end up doing when you ‘grow up’? Is this your dream gig?

I always wanted to work in entertainment: I don’t think I ever realised that my kind of job actually existed, let alone was an actual option. It totally is my dream gig, which feels crazy to write! I get to sit in the room with people who I’ve been a fan of, sometimes to a ridiculous extent, for years. Occasionally, they disappoint, but even then, it still feels very surreal.

Does being a reporter/journalist/content producer have you travel the world a lot? Besides Istanbul, have you always lived and worked in the UK?  

Part of the reason I wanted to become a journalist was because I didn’t want to do a job that limited me to one country. I grew up moving all over the world, so at this point wanderlust is kind of in my blood. I worked as a journalist in Turkey for a bit after university, which was amazing. Since becoming a showbiz journo I’ve been lucky enough to get sent abroad to America and Europe for press trips. I would love to live abroad one day, so this is the perfect test run!

I’m sure at times, the entertainment game can be all glitz and glam but what are some things people don’t know about working in media? 

It definitely is not glamorous: well, at least for the journalists involved! A lot of people think working premieres and award shows means you actually get to go to the events, but the reality is that you stand around for a few hours outside, talk to celebs for maybe 2-3 minutes and then head back to office to turn it all around. In the Summer it’s ok, but as it heads into Winter those nights can be pretty brutal! Of course, there are worse things that I could be doing, but when you have those nights where you can’t feel your fingers, it can be pretty grim!

What’s the biggest misconception about your day-job?

Probably that I spend all day becoming best pals with celebrities? Definitely not the case! Actually, chatting to celebrities is quite a small part of my job, and when I do chat to them there’s definitely no time to strike up a friendship! A lot of people also assume that my life is basically like that scene in Notting Hill where Hugh Grant ends up interviewing Julia Roberts for Horse and Hound. Whilst I do spend a lot of time at hotels interviewing celebs, there’s definitely about 10 people in the room with you, and you have an aggressive countdown clock the whole time: it’s pretty hard to get any inside jokes in when there’s someone literally counting down the minutes in front of you.

What part of your career are you most chuffed about? And what are some of the pinch-yourself highlights?

Basically, that I get to meet my heroes! It’s pretty much as basic as that. I am a fangirl at heart, and have obsessed over celebs and their work for basically as long as I can remember. Getting to sit in a room with Reese Witherspoon and actually hand her the dissertation on Legally Blonde that I’d written was probably a moment that I will never, ever top. Also Oprah was in the room, so yeah, it’s pretty much a peak life moment.

I feel like a bit of a fool, interviewing the ‘interviewer’. What tips or tricks do you have when it comes to asking the big questions to a room filled with A-Listers?

It sounds so basic, but just remember that they are real people. The minute you take them off the celebrity pedestal, it makes it so much easier to try and have a real conversation. Of course, there will always be people you can’t keep your cool in front of (looking at you, Harry Styles), but more often than not it’s easy to relax in front of them. I think it’s also really useful working at a company where celebrities come to us, to our own building. Seeing us at work, and seeing them interacting with their team and ours, makes for a much more human interaction. When it comes to tips on how to get the big questions in, structuring your interview is really important. If you know you’ve got a question that could go either way, save it until the end. That way if they shut it down, you can get out of the room quickly!

Have you ever had an awkward celeb-fail? 

Oh lots! Sometimes how you think something sounds in your head sounds completely different out loud. There have been a few rude celebrities that really didn’t seem to like chatting to me, but all in all I have been lucky. I did call Henry Cavill ‘Harry’ to his face though, which wasn’t great.

You’re also now a presenter on heat radio. How do you feel about being in the spotlight? Or being filmed? Do you ever get self-conscious?

I HATE being on camera. If there’s one way to keep an ego in check, it’s regularly being filmed sitting opposite the most beautiful people in the world. In terms of presenting, that’s been such a fun accident. I never, ever intended on doing any kind of presenting, but the team over at heat radio have been so supportive of me, and actively encourage me to do more. It is cool finding out you’re quite good at something you never thought you’d even enjoy.

How important is it to you to portray body confidence? Do you ever feel pressured to look or dress a certain way?

Body confidence is something I’ve always struggled with. I’ve always been the biggest one of my friendship groups, and whilst that doesn’t really bother me anymore in my day to day life, sometimes having to edit a video of yourself in detail when you’re having a bad day can be quite tough. I don’t actually feel like I need to dress or look a certain way, which is nice. I’m lucky I work somewhere that actively promotes us bringing ourselves into what we do: so if one day I want to dress really smart, I can do that. Likewise, if I want to show up in the baggiest of t-shirts and trackies, that’s also fine.

I do think it’s really important that ‘average’ sized bodies are shown in media. We see a lot of representation at either end of the spectrum, but there is an awkward middle ground where most of the population sits, that doesn’t get seen a lot. I am a size 16, and I’m happy that I get to have a job on camera.

I can also see you’re fast becoming the Kween of Twitter, what do you like about social media and what do you hate? Have you ever been the target of online bullying or trolling? 

I love so much about the internet. If you couldn’t already tell, I was an indoor kid and basically grew up on the internet (where my tumblr peeps at?!). There are massive downsides to Twitter, we all know them, but there’s so much I adore. I’ve made some really good friends from Twitter that I have shared interests with. I’ve also been able to take part in really meaningful interactions with people about a variety of topics. I get to be part of a shared conversation with people who like the same things as me. I also credit social media with making me as socially conscious as I am. I’ve learned so much from hearing diverse voices that I’m sure I wouldn’t have heard in my day to day life. Also, people on the internet are just hilarious.

I’ve actually been lucky when it comes to trolls or online bullying. Even when I went viral, 99.9% of the comments were supportive and kind, and the rest were shot down very quickly. You do get the odd comment that lingers, especially when you’re having an off-day, but the positives for me truly outweigh the negatives.

https://twitter.com/lucyj_ford/status/973572079000915968?s=21

What does going viral feel like? What goes through your head the moment you realise ‘you’ are blowing up around the world? Does it change anything?

It’s a really strange feeling! I always hoped that, if I ever went viral, I would reply to anyone who wrote to me. The reality of it is that you just can’t! I had to turn my phone off at one point, because it just got so overheated cause of the notifications. It got a little bit ridiculous. I was lucky though: the response to my dissertation was 99% positive, which I feel like is unheard of on the internet. That’s what happens when women come together to fan out over chick flicks!

What happens hours, days, even weeks after it?

The funny thing about going viral is that it is over literally in a couple of days. The first day was absolutely crazy, and I couldn’t do any work because I was just transfixed by my notifications (sorry, boss!). But then, around the third day everything went back to normal. In a way, I was really grateful that I still had a job to do, as it let me get away from just staring at my screen. It was a really fun experience, but I also think it’s important to keep some perspective.

Speaking of the bad world of web, any predictions on what is going to be huge in the next 6 months? What’s the next big thing in music/film?

I have no idea and if I had my way all anyone would do would be watch BTS videos and Harry Style’s album documentary on repeat for a year!

We now live in a post-Weinstein world and surrounded by feminist movements like #MeToo, can you relate to any of this?

I am extremely fortunate to never have encountered any real trauma in the sense of #MeToo, which is why I feel so constantly horrified by what so many women, and men, have had to suffer in silence with. I’m so grateful to live in a time where hopefully more victims feel safe to come forward, and feel hopeful that I can learn more and more about feminism as time goes on.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bn1wkKhhfyp/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=1iobg5t5qawa0

I get the impression you’re a proud feminist, is this true? If so, what does ‘girl power’ mean to you?

Oh man, I am the proudest of feminists! Gals are great! I love learning about feminism, and its various histories and the ways in which it became part of our society. I did my dissertation on feminism and female representation in film, and I think I might be the only person in history who looked forward to going to the library to work on their thesis.

Girl power to me can mean anything and everything. I want all women to feel like their voices are heard and are meaningful, so long as they don’t actively harm minorities or other women. Sometimes you get a fitted sheet on your bed first time around and feel proud: that’s girl power! Sometimes you stand up to your boss, or talk down ignorance: that’s also girl power! Women, and men, fighting for equality is such a basic thing, and we still have so much to work on, but I’m encouraged about the conversations we’re having.

Anyone who knows you, also knows you have a fierce obsession of all things boybands and 90s/early 00s chick flicks. Indulge for a moment and tell us some of your ultimate favs.

Oh boy, how much time do you have?! Well, of course Legally Blonde is my ultimate, but I can probably recite word for word Bring it On, Ten Things I Hate About You and Clueless. Honestly, I will never get bored EVER of watching those films. In terms of boybands, I love *Nsync. It is my greatest regret in life that I never saw them when I lived in America at their peak. That pain will live with me forever.

Name one female movie character that changed your life or inspired you to be who you are?

I’ve got to say Elle Woods, right?!

What would your biopic be called?

Probably something like ‘Desperately seeking snacks’.

Since we’re on the love-train, what women are you krushing on at the moment? 

Always, and forever, Amy Adams. Give that woman a damn Oscar already!

You must be so stoked of what you have achieved in your life so far… what’s one thing you would now tell your younger self?

That your trauma will make for great character building. You’re funny and kind, and that is because you had to learn to be strong. The people who picked on you most will also be the ones DMing you to hang out any time they see a picture of you with a celebrity, so you can take some pride in that! Also, don’t get so obsessed with that one guy at uni: he’s gay.

What would 6 year-old and 16 year-old Lucy think of the 26 year-old Lucy today? 

I think 6 year-old Lucy would be utterly confused and probably just get distracted by the nearest snack.

16 year-old Lucy, well, she’d be in absolute shock. 16 year-old Lucy didn’t have the best time. She didn’t have the nicest experience at school and wasn’t sure who she was. I think socially anxious 16 year-old Lucy seeing 26 year-old Lucy working and living in London, talking to people for a living and surrounded by people who love and care about her would probably cry (she cried a lot). 16 year-old Lucy would also want to know whether 26 year-old Lucy had met David Tennant yet (she hasn’t), so I’ve probably still got some things to work on.

🐥: @lucyj_ford

📸: @lucyjayneford_

Carmela has only been working with Lucy at Bauer Media for a handful of weeks but it was girl-love at first sight. Carmela is constantly in awe of how freaking cool Lucy is when placed in any high pressure celeb sitchu. But mostly Carmela is utterly impressed with how quickly Lucy has managed to put up with her awful out-of-time singing and constant “Lucy, can I show you something” in the office. Watch this space peeps, Lucy Ford is a name you’ll be hearing A LOT more of in the future!!