Kween Kulture: ILIZA SHLESINGER ‘Elder Millennial.’

Kween Kulture: ILIZA SHLESINGER ‘Elder Millennial.’

“Whatever kind of woman you are, you’re quiet, you’re fat, you’re small, you’re big, you’re tall, you’re loud, you don’t know much, you got a gill: whatever kind of woman you are, you are right! That’s it. Whatever you’ve chosen to be, whatever you want to be, you are correct in being that, as long as you’re happy.”

“If you are the shy type, if you are the wallflower, if you are the shrinking violet, if you are another floral metaphor that has to do with being an introvert, my point to you is, you don’t want the guy, who wants you, because of that energy.”

“In movies it’s not the strong girl, the funny girl, the brave girl, the smart girl, the loud girl, the opinionated girl, who gets the hot guy. It’s always the quiet girl, the new girl that gets like, Channing Tatum. It’s always the girl that doesn’t realise how beautiful she is. Which by the way, that Hollywood archetype… bullshit!”

I feel like Iliza has been sitting in my head for the past year. Her opinion on how women are represented in fairy tales and movies is just spot on, or at the very least thought provoking. Not to forget to mention her take on dating, women hitting on men, women wanting babies and the rejection that comes along with it; I could quote her (and will) for days. This is a MUST WATCH!!- Carmela Contarino

“A big part of the reason women don’t hit on men is that women aren’t seen as equal to men. Therefore when we step out of a traditional feminine role and do something alpha and hit on a guy and he rejects us, it hurts that much more.”

“Another big part of the reason that women don’t hit on men, is because men typically don’t find strong women attractive. They love venerability.”

Prince Charming: PAUL RIGGIO

Prince Charming: PAUL RIGGIO

Prince Charming alert!! This is where we celebrate the kick ass men in today’s world who are setting the bar high when it comes to love and respect.

Introducing Paul Riggio:

1) Describe yourself in three words:

Resilient, instinctive, ambitious, spontaneous, compassionate, introspective, complex… What’s the word for someone who can’t count?

2) What do you think a modern-day Prince Charming is? 

Does he even exist? Ha! The enchanting champion who saves the day and whose heroic actions earn him the highly sought-after princess as his prize… [record scratch].     Hang on, it’s 2018! Do we even want him to exist?

No, thank you! Ain’t nobody taking me as a prize (although my other half has scored the jackpot… and don’t I keep reminding him! Jokes people!!).

My ‘new-age’ prince charming isn’t charging solo. Rather, we’re riding side-by-side. PC’s got my back and I’ve got his. He’s giving me strength when I require it and support when I need it. PC never pulls the reigns to hold me back. Instead, he’s there to push me forward. And it’s vice versa. Because together we will triumph. And together we make each other our best selves. And that’s the real prize. Thanks PC!

3) What’s one piece of advice you would give to young men? 

Let’s be honest, you’re gonna be a bit of a ‘dick’ for the most part of your late adolescence and early adulthood. To each other, to your family, to those you fancy. We all were… blame the testosterone. Whether it’s trying to impress mates, trying to assert our newly developed masculinity, trying to prove ourselves…

So, my advice would be to always have respect for yourself and for others. Even when you’re trying to ‘become a man’ in those turbulent years. Look to your role models and follow their lead. Let them and the ‘good guy’ on your shoulder guide you. And for goodness sake, listen!

4) What does feminism mean to you? Would you call yourself a feminist?  

It’s the understanding that women are equal in society and must be ensured every opportunity possible throughout it, without diminished status or reward. That women not only offer just as much to society as men, but also have a unique and significant perspective that must be heard. It’s about the freedom of women to make their own decisions regarding their life, their body, career, family, finances and future.

Feminism has been a tough fight and there’s still a way to go (let’s take a moment to celebrate those courageous women that have been at the forefront of this today and throughout history) but feminism for me is a celebration of women; all that they are, all that they offer, and all that has been achieved.

But it’s more than all of this. It’s also about believing that most of us out there want the same for all women, regardless of our sex. So feminism is also about embracing those out there that share the same belief. I know plenty of cracking guys who are all for equality for women and they should be embraced and celebrated as change. And yes, us blokes need to pull our socks up, me included but don’t we all, men and women alike, when it comes to these important social issues?

Feminism can too often get misrepresented and reduced to be ‘Man Vs. Woman’ or ‘man-bashing’. I think feminism should be about leading by example to continue to make further progress and I think we can all take heed of that.

I’ve never thought of myself as a feminist and I’ve never labelled myself as one. I’m not on the picket lines or in the trenches like the courageous women I tipped my hat to earlier and who have earned the right to be called feminists. I do know that I wholeheartedly believe no matter your sex, ethnicity, religion or sexuality, we all deserve the opportunity to be and give our best, free from judgement, persecution or inequality. I like the term ‘feminist ally’, I’m cool with that and proud to say it.

5) Which Kweens have influenced your life? How did that make an impact on your life/career?

How lucky am I to have so many important, influential, magnificent women in my life?

It all begins with my mum. She’s the strongest woman I know. Despite the unbelievable number of serious medical conditions she has to deal with, she’s as tough as nails and has never given up (I reckon I’d have thrown the towel in long ago).

She’s battled her demons openly and always with a brave face; even with the resulting mental health issues that after decades of ill health and chronic pain have chipped away at her spirit. And even with all that, she managed a family of four kids, a home and the finances. She did that because dad was out busting his gut working two and three jobs or night-shifts to bring in enough money, so mum could keep us fed, housed, clothed and educated.

Mum is courageous, curious, loving, selfless and fierce. She taught us to be independent (she will now tell you we’re all too independent) and encouraged us to work hard, respect one another and find what makes us happy.  I’ve certainly done that and now that my career has me living around the world, which I know she hates because of the distance, she is still proud and supportive. It also gives her major bragging rights with her girlfriends (I’ll allow her this fantasy).

Mum’s a dinner-and-a-show kinda gal now. She loves a night out, a dance when she’s up to it, music, a laugh and meeting new people. She’ll never admit it but she also loves a good feed and to feed others. The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree on all of the above!

Just quickly, I have also had some incredibly inspiring female teachers who set me on the path of following what I was passionate about, even if I copped shit for it. There also many strong and independent women in my family including my sister, my aunts, my grandmother, and my nieces that have helped shape the man I’ve become. And some gloriously sassy, smart, accomplished girlfriends who have, and continue to, support and inspire me everyday.

Oh! And Oprah!! Who captivated a prepubescent, skinny, awkward, camp-ish, ethnic kid who wasn’t sure where he fitted in and made him believe he could get a job in TV. Here I aaaaammmmm! (I won’t be giving away cars anytime soon though).

6) What are your working relationships like with women?

I don’t think it’s unusual (certainly not with the people I have worked so closely with in my career) to have nothing but strong, collaborative working relationships with women. I have always thrived working alongside talented and intelligent women and have learnt a great deal from many of them who have guided and mentored me. 

7) What do you hope for men and women in the future?

I hope we get to the day where we can focus on our similarities, not our differences and that the unique qualities and perspectives we all have as individuals is celebrated.

8) Which fairy tale character, do you most identify with? Or who would play you in a movie? 

Aladdin! He’s an energetic, cheeky, smart kid who walks his own path. He’d be the class clown today: disruptive and impatient because he is preoccupied and easily excited by all kinds of people, the big world out there and the lessons that he knows they will teach him. He’s kind and generous and definitely someone not to be underestimated.

Is it a little weird that I was kind of attracted to the animated character when I was a kid watching the film? Weren’t we all?

Oh, and Stanley Tucci would totally play me in a movie. Am I right?

Paul Riggio is currently an Executive Producer for global media company FremantleMedia, one of the leading creators, producers and distributors of television brands in the world. He’s an accomplished television producer and show-runner with over 15 years hands-on experience working on some of the biggest international, entertainment and studio formats in Australia, Asia and the USA. This includes the Asian Television Award winning, ‘Asia’s Got Talent’, the International Emmy Award nominated format, ‘La Banda’, ‘Australia’s Got Talent’, ‘The X Factor’, ‘Australian Idol’ and ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. Paul also became an elected member of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (International Emmys) in 2017.

Showbiz aside, Paul’s talents also extends to ordering ‘everything’ off the menu, picking out a great bottle of red, finding grammatical errors in your Facebook posts, singing in perfect harmony, and serving flawless lewks and moves on the d-floor (choreographed and improvised).  

Paul too is one of Carmela’s closest friends, hell he’s more like family! He’s her confidant and conscience. The Karen to her Grace, the Olivia to her Mellie, the ‘Paul’ to her Ru. 😉

Carmela’s so thrilled that Paul could be the first ‘So The Fairy Tales Lied… Prince Charming’.

Guest Kween: JANINE PLANT “Life After A Toxic Relationship.”

Guest Kween: JANINE PLANT “Life After A Toxic Relationship.”

I climbed into bed a few nights ago and my husband immediately shuffled close to me. He wrapped himself around me and got his body as close to mine as physically possible; every inch of our skin was entwined. I smiled and relaxed into him.

I had a sudden flashback to about four years ago, it was my nightly mission to get as close as possible to my edge of the bed; as far away from my ex-husband as I could. When I heard him approaching our room or falling in the door after a ‘work dinner’ at 2am, I would almost stop breathing in an attempt to keep my body still; so he didn’t think I was awake.

Amazing what can change in four years.

I met my ex-husband at the ripe old age of 21. I was naïve, immature as all hell, vulnerable, amenable and easily influenced. I had just been dating a guy who suddenly decided he was into someone else, so I was craving love and affection.

My ex-husband was 11 years older than me. From the moment we met at a mutual friend’s wedding it was go, go, go.

Ever heard of the term love bombing? It’s the practice of overwhelming someone with signs of adoration and attraction. It’s never ending flattery and attention.

-It’s constant text messages, a day after you’ve just met.

-It’s tokens of affection, elaborate gifts and surprise international flights to swan around in a hotel, while he attends work dinners.

-It’s talks of having children together, when you’ve only known each other a month.

-It’s taking you away to a secluded beach shack, for your second date.

-It’s flowers delivered to your work, so everyone knows what a ‘great’ guy he is.

-It’s surprise appearances that are designed to have you spend more time with the love bomber and less time with others or on your own.

You get the picture.

Love bombing is intoxicating at first, it’s all encompassing. Reading the above paragraphs now, I just think ‘woah, creepy’ but at the time, it was charming; I felt special, amazing, loved.

Now, not everyone who whispers sweet nothings in your ear is a narcissistic jerk, but if you’re feeling that something just isn’t quite right about the person or the relationship you’re in, you should trust it. Yep, if your partner is constantly telling you ‘how good you are together’ but your longest, dearest friends disagree, if your gut is screaming at you that something is just ‘off’ and you’re so anxious you’re grinding your teeth in your sleep and chewing the inside of your mouth, then there’s a pretty good chance something isn’t right.

Love bombing feels great, until it doesn’t.

It feels great until….

-You are endlessly confused because nothing you say or do seems to be right, even when you’re pretty darn sure you didn’t say or do anything wrong.

-There are so many seeds of self-doubt planted in your head, that you’re growing a fucking tree of self-doubt out of there.

-You’ve given up your dream job, which you went to uni for five years to work towards, because you think you’re too dumb to do it.

-Your boyfriend proposes to you in front of your family (knowing you won’t say no that way), and you find yourself curled in a ball crying yourself to sleep on your engagement night.

-Your husband (who earns a lot of money) sits in a bank and manipulates you into taking out a $16 000 personal loan under your name because he has a ‘bad credit rating’ and then somehow convinces you in the car park afterwards that you’re a bad person for thinking it’s a little weird.

-Your 35 year old husband starts coming home on weeknights at all hours of the morning and spends his Saturday nights playing online poker with his mates, getting wasted and you get in trouble for being upset about it.

-You find endless webpage listings for ‘Perth escort services’ on your fiance’s computer and he lies to you and tells you it was his cousin, and you believe him.

Yes, love bombing feels awesome, until you actually don’t even know who you are anymore.

Enter: gas lighting.

Gas lighting, to manipulate someone by psychological means into doubting their own sanity. A malicious and hidden form of emotional abuse, designed to plant seeds of self doubt and alter your perception of reality.

Love bombing morphs into gaslighting pretty quickly. You are so bound up in the love bomber’s web of manipulation that you literally don’t realise it’s happening, until things start to feel really, really wrong.

Some days I just didn’t speak at all, because it seemed easier. We had no money, despite him earning an annual salary four times what I could ever dream of earning. I knew he was using drugs but the couple of times I tried to confront him about it, he laughed in my face and made me feel awful for even thinking it.

So the day I finally plucked up enough courage to leave my ex-husband was hands down, the most invigorating and empowering day of my life.

I had just spent a weekend away for a girlfriend’s wedding. My husband did not enjoy hanging out with these particular friends (I see now it’s because they were smart enough to know better).

I was sitting with my girlfriends, listening to them talk about their experiences as occupational therapists and suddenly I sat up straighter in my chair. I heard the passion in their voices and I remembered that I used to talk like that!

My first job out of uni was working in an acute stroke rehab ward; where I would use my knowledge of the nervous system to help people relearn how to brush their teeth and dress themselves. I thought I knew how to make a difference in people’s lives but my ex-husband had been very encouraging when I said to him one day, “I’m not cut out for this job. I’m just no good at it.” He supported me into leaving the profession I loved so much and then made me feel bad about how little money I had.

It was in that moment, sitting with my girlfriends, that I knew I had to leave. So many things had happened in the lead up to it but somehow it was witnessing that particular conversation, and feeling like an outsider (when I should have been right there in it) that made it all fall into place.

I drove the five hours back home, told him it was over, packed a bag and spent the next three months living in friends’ spare bedrooms.

I share this story not to have a good ol’ bitch about my ex-husband or to shame him in any way; I hold no anger towards him (anymore). I’m sure we both really believed that we loved each other at some point in our lives. I don’t believe he had a malicious intention to inflict so much pain and hurt. We were just two very different, very incompatible humans.

I share this story because I know how easy it is to be manipulated and not realise it’s happening.

I share this story because I’ve met countless other women who took 20 or 30 years to get out of these toxic relationships; amazing, incredible women who are still healing and trying to remember who they are.

I share this story because you can find yourself in an absolute shit storm of toxicity, manipulation, debt, loneliness and yet still have the strength to stand up to a narcissist and remove yourself from the situation.

I share this story because it happens ALL THE TIME.

If one person who is in an emotionally abusive relationship reads this and finds the strength to take the steps they need to remove themselves too, then that’s all I can hope for.

Today, three and a half years after shutting a door and opening a new one, that giant tree of self doubt has reduced to a seedling.

Don’t get me wrong, the voice is still there. If I spill my coffee, drop something or forget to do something at work, an automatic voice in my head is triggered immediately, “You fucking idiot, you’re so useless Janine, sort your shit out! Of course you spilt your coffee, of course you did!!”

Thankfully, I now find myself in a real world of love, kindness and simplicity with a man who won’t let me talk to myself like that.

Four months ago I married my soul mate. I asked him to marry me, in a very normal, non-dramatic kinda way; there was no grand gesture. It was just us, together, camping in the pouring rain (as you do) and I said “Hey Kimbo, wanna marry me?”

He appreciates the simple things in life.

Every Tuesday we have tacos for dinner and every single time it’s like he’s never eaten tacos before. Every night as he rolls into bed, he sighs in absolute bliss about how comfy our bed is. He lives authentically. Appreciating every moment for exactly what it is. Nothing is ever a drama. Ever.

For a while, this was hard to get used to. For five years of my life, I lived in an environment of confusion, lies and drama. Oh the drama. So much drama!!

With Kimbo there are no over-the-top declarations of love or ridiculously expensive dinners or gifts. There is adventure, there is fun and there is of course, love. There is an appreciation of the things in life that actually matter.

I remember the first time he got me flowers, we hadn’t been dating all that long. He got home before me and put them in a glass on the kitchen bench; they weren’t in plain view, just chilling near the sink. There was no mention of it. No begging for recognition. Just a simple act of appreciation. I looked at those flowers (lilies, my fave) and watched him walk around my kitchen, drying my dishes and wiping down my bench tops and felt so genuinely overwhelmed with love, I nearly passed out.

I guess that’s another reason why I’m sharing this story, to show how recovering from a bad relationship can make you so appreciative of the good ones.

It’s the days that break you, that make you.

It’s the tough things that happen to us that help us grow and put ourselves on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.

I believe that everything we encounter in this life really helps to pave our journey, to build our character and teach us lessons.

Ladies, if you’re in a relationship that feels wrong, it’s wrong.

Trust your gut.

Listen to yourself.

Do what you need to do to find out who you are again, because you’re so worth it.

Janine Plant is a Bunbury gal. She’s a proud mumma to her feather babies (chooks), step-mum to a beautiful little boy and wifey to her soulmate, Kim. Known amongst her friends and family as the resident tree hugger, she’s also a yoga teacher, vegan, nature and animal loving free spirit. With all this in mind, still never get between her and her morning triple shot Bonsoy latte! 

Kween Kulture: PRIDE IN LONDON 2018

Kween Kulture: PRIDE IN LONDON 2018

Over the weekend I celebrated my first Pride in London with my beloved friend, Callum.

We started the day at his place, sipping glasses of buck fizz and lining our stomachs with a bacon butty (which he prepared). It was deeelish!

We took the train from Greenwich to Piccadilly, our bags packed with more bubbles, gin, plastic cups and rainbow face paint. Yasss, these Kweens were set!

While we were waiting for our train though, Callum mentioned how he was asked in the week leading up to the event, if he thought ‘Pride in London’ was still necessary?

Allow me to answer that for my beautiful darling friend…

-While Cal was in the middle of explaining this, he also stopped and said to me “Can you see the kind of ‘looks’ I’m getting? Don’t they know, it’s Pride?”

Now, not that any human could ever or deserves to ever, take away the light bursting inside of my gorgeous friend, but it really pissed me off that today of all days, there were still some people willing to make him feel not worthy or accepted (let alone every day of his god damn life!).

Eventually we got on the train and we were stoked to find it filled with people wearing exactly what we were wearing; boys in short shorts, girls with rainbows on their faces, glitter everywhere. Any thought of the small minded who tried to quash our spirits were themselves, quashed.

-When we got to the parade, it was delayed due to anti-trans protestors. These people not only laid down on the ground in front of the march but were still allowed to walk the parade first (police escorting them) holding signs, banners and flyers filled with such awful, hateful messages about transsexuals. It was such an ugly thing to see, especially when everyone who was standing on the streets were there for the exact opposite reason. So, we booed them. We booed the hell out of them!!

-Once the parade finally started, my heart filled with joy and my eyes welled up (they always do, no matter where I’m watching it, Sydney, Brighton). I just love the feeling of when the parade begins; it symbolizing another year of fighting and resisting, yet another chance to shout love and light from the rooftops. It was amazing seeing these humans so happy and so celebrated. Admiration poured from every street corner and scaffolding but I couldn’t help also noticing the other signs that stated that being ‘gay’ was still illegal in 72 countries. 72!

Can you believeee?

So, is Pride in London still necessary? ABSO-FUCKING-LUTLEY!!!

Even if we get to a world where none of the above exists, there will always be a bunch of brave, fearless, strong men and women, who made it a little easier for that other boy to come out to his parents or that other girl to tell her best friend that she likes girls. I imean, that needs to be celebrated not just at Pride but all the freaking time, right?!!

But honey seriously, besides these slight attempts to bring us down, nothing was going to damper our day! We sang, we danced, we hugged, we held hands, we laughed; it was a magical, perfect day. A day simply about love and loving each other.

📸: @calluminos

By surprise, I also saw my other friend Tony strutting past. This made me (once again) explode with pride and strangely also made me feel right at home. Wow, how could I have only been back in London for just over a year and already recognized a familiar face, not just in the crowd, but in the parade!? Tony shouted out my name and gave me a high-five, my eyes got glassy again, it was so special.

Actually, there were many other things that gave me ‘all the feels’.

-Parents parading with their young children (straight and gay), I swear this is something I will do with my kids too. I also feel like if my son ever told me he was ‘straight’ I’d be most disappointed. Ha!

-There were different cultures and religions also parading their gay stuff with utter sass and fun; it was super powerful.

📸: Mike Cash

The only thing that is ‘unnecessary’ about Pride in London is the amount of glitter you will continue to find on your body, in your hair, in your bathroom and in your bed afterwards; no matter how many times you have showered or attempted to clean it up. It’s like a fucking unicorn has shat everywhere. And the cheeky train-toilet-vomit one may encounter on the way back home. Whoops!

Still, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

I grew up in a house where my mum would always invite her gay friends around for dinner parties; my Italian dad would sit at the table and speak to them like he was down at the pub with his own mates. My point is, maybe if everyone had the chance to grow up with ‘gay people’ being treated just like ‘people’, maybe no one would ever question if it was necessary.

So, is Gay Pride still necessary? Yasss Kween! And I cannot wait till 2019. Maybe I’ll be in the parade next time too!!

📸: @jenobeirne
Kween Kulture: HANNAH GADSBY ‘Nanette’.

Kween Kulture: HANNAH GADSBY ‘Nanette’.

Image result for hannah gadsby nanette

“There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself.”

“Anger is never constructive. Laughter is not our medicine. Stories hold our cure.”

No matter what your view is on gender dysphoria, feminism, mental health, homosexuality or even Donald Trump, I highly doubt you will get to the end of this comedy special (if you can call it that) and feel nothing. 

Gadsby is changing the world of comedy with her story. When I think about her now, my heart fills with joy, sadness and hope, all at the same time.

If there’s one thing you watch this weekend, make it be ‘Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette’.

Hannah, thank you- Carmela Contarino

“Boys will be boys and women will be careful, so can we just get men to be men?”

“You’d still get a grown ass president denying any wrong doing though.”

“I don’t feel comfortable in a small town, I get a bit tense, mainly because I’m this situation.”

“Lesbians give feedback, men, opinions.”

Image result for hannah gadsby nanette