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

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

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.

Prince Charming: CHARLIE FOX

Prince Charming: CHARLIE FOX

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 Charlie Fox: 

1) Describe yourself in three words:

Well, I had to take an online quiz to figure this out, but it only came back with empathetic. I would add creative and curious (like the cat, not curious as in strange, then again…).

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

To be honest in this day and age it sounds suss! I imagine Donald Trump thinks he is a ‘Prince Charming’, but hey I get it! Can I add ‘low attention span’ to the above answer? It is just 3 words….?

Ok, so a modern PC would be a man who understands not just women, but humans. I think to understand women you have to try to understand all the sexes. To do this you need to have tons of EI (emotional intelligence) and according to my old workplace when EI was the ‘must have’ corporate fad of the moment and they tested me for it: I had boatloads.

I’ve spent most of my life working in radio, dealing with high profile egos and to do this you need boatloads of EI! (that’s EI not E… although that could also help).

Ok, so I’ve veered off topic again, the simple answer is understanding. Understand what drives females; why they are the way they are. I find all women interesting and fascinating, so I treat them with respect and a slight bit of awe.

Also please understand, I believe a Prince Charming should be a Prince Charming to everyone, not just females. But of course, for the #TheFairyTalesLied I’ll stick to women.

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

Again, understand women!! Well at least try. Think about this young man, a little girl is usually treated like a princess because, well let’s face it, little girls are so damn cute (in a baby bunny rabbit kind of way). Bear in mind, I have a son not a daughter, so parents of girls may not agree with me on this.

The little girl grows up to be a young girl and starts to go through puberty, then the period arrives. At which point, putting myself in that young girl’s sparkly sneakers for a moment, I would be thinking… ‘You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!? I bleed!? For how long?? How often? Fuck off!!!!!’ All of a sudden the cute little bunny rabbit must feel betrayed and horrified. Surely there’s some mistake???

Here she is at her most vulnerable emotionally, trying to look attractive while battling the old raging hormones, acne and then the period happens. Monthly. Faaaaarck me!

So this alone makes me (and remember the website quiz I took told me I am empathetic and don’t forget, the EI part) have enormous respect for young girls, even though some appear to be batshit crazy, I know they have good reason.

Ok, so after that kick in the guts my young male friend should we talk about what it feels like to be penetrated? Why are you squirming?

And just to top it off, after all of that, the girl is now a woman, and pregnant. After watching my wife (whom I am proud to say is a #STFLKween) go through this fun 9 months, my level of respect for women could go no higher!

Childbirth? OMFG!!! The horror!

I don’t want to bring religion into this (well obviously I do) but not only would the christian God be male, he would also be misogynist! Surely, there has to be a way to make life easier for women. Men have none of these problems! Imagine if you were sitting down with a clean sheet of paper to create the human race and went “Right, I’ll have 2 sexes for humans, to procreate, the male will stick it in here for amazing pleasure, the female… well fuck it, I’ll make her life a bloody misery!!”

When it comes to females procreating, wouldn’t eggs be a better solution? Really not my field. But, if I was a woman and made it to heaven, the first thing I’d do is punch God in the face.

Naturally, at this stage, the young man I was giving advice to would be backing away going “Ok, dude, I’ve gotta be somewhere…”

The point is, try to put yourself in the place of the human you’re dealing with. Have a think about how easy the male gets it compared to the female.

And then think about everything else girls/women have to go through. Jackson Katz, a social researcher, asked men what they do on a daily basis to avoid being sexually assaulted. Then he asked women.

Just awful! Once again. Men don’t think, because it doesn’t happen to them. But they can always be aware!!

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

To me, it is standing up for women through fairness. There has been a lot of great stuff to come out of the #MeToo campaign. Not the least of which, was calling out these pricks that gave all men a bad name like Weinstein. I hate that people stood up for them because they’re powerful, celebrity or worst of all ‘creative’. Don’t mention Woody Allen please.

For me, one of the really helpful things for men was the notion that ‘it’s not ok to have a mate who talks about women like they’re sluts without calling them out on it’: this is literally once again misogyny. Why are you hating on women?

For some reason (and it seems to start with young boys), you’re not a real man unless you point at girls and go “I’d love to have my way with that dirty bitch!”. Whoa! Dude!! Hang on, you want to think about that statement? Do you have an IQ of 3? Seriously.

Feminism also means equality. In every way. To be honest, I’ve been lucky working in radio, where some women earn more than their male partners (on-air and off-air). I like to think I treated everyone equally on my staff; although it was and still is a corporate battle wages-wise.

But being a huge fan of Twitter and tech, I follow a lot of geek girls & tech journos. They are forever pointing out horrendous inequalities. Like, serious female scientist being ignored for awards or even basic recognition. Uni scores being marked down for scholars because they’re female.

I don’t understand it. I am always outraged. White male privilege is a serious problem.

Yes, I call myself a feminist.

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

Well apart from my mum Edith, my aunt Aggie and of course, my beautiful wife Ronni; whom I hired not because she was incredibly beautiful and sexy (and still is) but because I thought she was a hugely talented communicator on-air (and still is).

And aside from the 60s boyhood crushes on Barbara Eden (I Dream Of Genie) and Elizabeth Montgomery (Bewitched), I tend to go with current gals. Mainly, because I have a shocking memory and spend so much time on Twitter!

I guess, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, JK Rowling are all amazing humans. I love intelligent women, who are not afraid of a fight, who stand up to (male) bullies and destroy them (verbally).

My current crush right now is Jacinda Ardern: The New Zealand Prime Minister. She is all those things and more. And gave birth while running the damn country!

Amanda Keller, who I worked with at WSFM in Sydney, is an incredible woman and with an astonishing talent. Once again, Amanda is bright, quick witted and a great role model for women (and men to be honest).

6) What are your working relationships like with women?

I pushed hard to get female announcers/presenters on-air. There was a lot of male push-back. They said “Research shows even women don’t like female announcers/presenters”.

Bullshit. It never seemed to bother the U.S stations. They were 50/50.

I prefer working with women. I find them more dedicated and capable of giving great feedback. I guess because women are naturally more empathetic and have lots of emotional intelligence. Whether they are behind the scenes or on-air, I just like working with them more. Radio is all about communication, and I think women excel at that.

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

Simple, equality. Not because it’s enforced but because men wake up to themselves and try to understand the injustice that has prevailed forever and is still in place.

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

Well animated it would be Shrek.

Otherwise, I would be all of the three bears, all played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Scarlett Johansson would play a kick-ass Goldilocks. Pretty much like her Black Widow character in Marvel. The bears would get what’s coming to them for being so whiny and self-centered. Actually, maybe Scarlett is playing me in this… hmmm definitely needs more thought.

Charlie Fox has worked in Sydney radio for a long time but only at three stations, 2SM, 2MMM & WSFM (where he also looked after The Edge 96.ONE); all were #1 radio stations. He was Group Program Director of the MMM network, until he chucked it in to start his own web design company (NetHead): with clients like KFC and network TEN. Charlie then spent a year setting up a streaming radio station in New York before returning to Australia as Content Director of one of the world’s very first streaming music video stations thebasement.com.au. In 2013, Charlie won ‘Best Program Director’ – Metropolitan at the Australian Commercial Radio Awards but apart from radio, he also loves tech & gaming. Charlie is currently a gentleman of leisure.

When it comes to the radio legend that is: Charlie Fox, Carmela can testify to all of the above and more. What Carmela cherishes the most about Charlie though, is not that he simply was the first man to give her that lucky big break in radio (which changed her world forever). But it’s the other things, that she’s sure, Mr Fox is not even quite aware of.

Let her indulge…

Carmela once caught Charlie mouthing the words ‘Thank you for Carmela’ to another radio acquaintance (who had recommended her to him). Proving that not only can he nurture talent but be gracious about them being in his company at the same.

Charlie was the first male boss that Carmela wasn’t afraid to be herself around: if anything, he encouraged it. Proving again, that women don’t need to dumb themselves down or look a certain way to be noticed, that good men will always see beyond that.

Even after ‘not’ working for Charlie for 5+ years, he would still pick up the phone whenever she would call out-of-the-blue and be more than happy to help her.

Charlie was consistently firm but fair, he knew just how to empower Carmela, and also how to handle her wild ‘potty mouth’ ways. 😉

Charlie Fox is a great human. The only criticism that Carmela would have towards him, is that he is ‘too’ great. So much, that she struggled with the many bosses that came after him (especially the male ones in radio), because nothing would or will ever compare to being guided and trusted by the one and only, C-Fox.

Naturally, Carmela is beyond thrilled that Charlie Fox is the next #STFTL Prince Charming.

Happily Ever After? Guest Kween: BENJAMIN NORRIS

Happily Ever After? Guest Kween: BENJAMIN NORRIS

To celebrate #STFTL’s one year anniversary, we’re checking in on some of our favourite Kweens and Kings.

What are these gems up to now? And how much can really change in a year? So…

It’s been exactly one year since we achieved marriage equality… and is everything ok?

Have you ever thought, ‘what happens a year on after superheroes save the earth?’

Did Buffy go on to slay her next job as a social media influencer? Did Frodo craft engagement rings for same-sex hobbits and did Wonder Woman become a tradie?

More importantly, what happened after our LGBTI heroes fought and won the right to marry their partners?

Did we all get invited to hundreds of same-sex weddings; enough to turn all the Real Housewives of Melbourne into marriage celebrants?

I have always been interested in what happens next: movie sequels, sophomore music albums, series 2 of anything on Netflix; I am fascinated by the follow up!

So when Carmela asked me to reflect 12 months after Australia changed the marriage act, I felt deeply intrigued.

So, what were the ripple on effects for myself and for the LGBTI community?

I personally thought I would have a big gay wedding with swans, celebrities and old pop songs sung by one of the Young Divas. (Yes, I am that gay!)

So why did I not do it? Why am I still engaged with no wedding gown in sight?

Somehow (dare I admit it), there appears to be more chance of our Prime Minister Scott Morrison marrying Tony Abbott than me walking down the aisle!

Because of this, I recently started to freak out that I had not yet done what we had been fighting so hard for.

Had I lied to my partner when I proposed? Had proposing in front of the country on Big Brother in 2012 been all about getting attention? Worse, I wondered if my partner (now 6 years on) didn’t even want to marry me!?

I felt like I was having an identity crisis.

So I started looking for answers on Google. How many same sex couples got married this year? Did everyone get married but me???

Well… there have been close to 3000 same-sex Aussies couples legally married.

This is amazing, but it certainly does not conclude that everyone in loving same-sex relationships, in deed got married. Phew! I am not the only homo alive with just an engagement ring.

Then I called my partner for an emergency date night, which went something like this: an elaborate dinner plan, face masks and a certain amount of nervous energy. What followed also was a weird conversation that started with the most romantic question anyone can ask, “Do you still want to marry me?” Gulp.

The reality was lost on me for a moment. I’d almost forgotten that the marriage equality debate was really just about equality. It wasn’t about marriage. Yet here I was hanging my relationship on a tender hook and questioning if it was all worth it because I haven’t thrown an over-priced wedding extravaganza with my life partner.

I guess our version of ‘happily ever after’ doesn’t mean we all get married right now! It just means that we are all equal now.

Maybe referencing those gays & straights as heroes might be a bit intense but i am still immensely proud of Australia for last year’s achievement.

I have found last year’s result gave Australia a chance to address some issues within the LGBTI community. However, now we face more intricate issues that can’t be blanketed over with a simple solution.

It is not a Marvel popcorn flick. It’s going to take some time to fully understand all of it. But more importantly, it’s about political correctness and not being a naive ignorant prick.

Which is where we are now.

How do we make Australia more inclusive? How did we educate those who might not be aware of the stories under the broader banner of LGBTI+?

Yes, there are more queer tales beyond ‘Jack’ from Will and Grace and the stereotypical lesbian at Bunnings.

Why do people know very little about intersex: the little discussed ‘I’ in the LGBTI alphabet?

Why does our trans community need more visibility?

Bisexuality remains to be seen as just a train stop away from gay-town. Nobody seems to respect an individual’s right to choose their pronouns.

Why is it still not ok to be a fem-top or butch-bottom? And why are gay relationships judged on whether they’re open or closed?

Please don’t think of the LGBTI community as a one-size fits all, we are actually more like the entire board of ‘Guess Who’.

While the world still turns beyond the 2017 marriage equality debate, we are still in many ways in desperate need of fighting for equal rights for all people, no matter what their sexuality, gender, race, religion and personal identity is. So let’s keep going!! And remember: it’s our differences that unite us, not divide us.

Benjamin Norris lives in Melbourne, Australia and is a presenter on JOY 94.9. He also hosts the podcast series, Word for Word and how could we forget? The previous winner of 2012’s Big Brother. You may of also seen him recently on ABC’s ‘You Cant Ask That!’

Happily Ever After? Guest Kween: JANE CONNORS

Happily Ever After? Guest Kween: JANE CONNORS

To celebrate #STFTL’s one year anniversary, we’re checking in on some of our favourite Kweens and Kings.

What are these gems up to now? And how much can really change in a year? So…

Hey there Kweens!

You might remember me from such blog posts as:

  • Make Your Own Damn Rules!
  • Don’t live anywhere! 
  • Be single! 
  • Quit your job! 
  • Girl power YAHHHHH!! 

It’s been awhile since we last I wrote this and well, I still don’t live anywhere. I really, really wanted to get myself a home this year but life didn’t work that way. So that’s 18 months and counting. I’ve managed to get through another year on contract work and have avoided getting a ‘proper job’ HUGE WIN.

I also turned 40. It was bloody wonderful. I wore a big pink tutu and was surrounded by people I love. Kylie Kwong sang me Happy Birthday. I didn’t even know I wanted that to happen: but it was the best thing ever. Turning 40. Tick that one off.

I remember turning 30 and really coming into my own about who I was. Turning 40 was that on steroids. I feel like life has become real.

Here are some things I’ve worked out. Sit back for some advice from your older, wiser Kween!

DON’T FIT IN. DO YOU 

I no longer have time for trying to fit into this life. For doing things the way we are told. For meaningless conversations. For buying stuff I don’t need. I don’t want the same things I once did. They say your new life will cost you your old one. And hasn’t it what!

We are given a single story-line on what makes a good life. Just the one. And it’s not for me.

Choose YOU. Don’t run with the status quo, if that’s not what’s in your heart.

Get married. Don’t get married. Have kids or don’t. Become a lawyer, become an artist, work in a shop: so, you can get home to your family and not answer emails at all hours. You have all the choices in the world. Make them. But make sure they’re your choices, not something you’ve been told to want.

The world is your goddamn oyster!

Sidenote: Don’t question someone else’s choices. Don’t force your beliefs on them. We are all so different. Let’s just be different. Let’s celebrate that.

Other sidenote: Oysters are disgusting. 

BE SINGLE. OR DON’T BE.

I no longer think of being single as less than. I’m bloody happy. Being alone feels like freedom to me. Being in a relationship could feel the same to someone else.

I’m sure if I met a guy who brought me coffee in bed and liked to get to airports really super-duper early (like when the bag drop is just open) then maybe I’d sign up for this love stuff too. But I’m not going out searching for him because I think I need that.

You don’t need it. It’s nice but you don’t need it.

HAVE KIDS. OR DON’T.

I never wanted children and I always worried I’d regret it. But I know now I won’t. To quote Cameron Diaz: “The one thing I know is that I’m not childless. I have a ton of children in my life. It’s not like I’m the spinster who didn’t have a child. I just didn’t do that in life, and I’m OK with that. I know the choices I’ve made. I know why I made them.”

I love that quote. 

I am not childless.

BE YOUR OWN HERO. NON-NEGOTIABLE.

I started my 40th year with SO MANY PLANS! But life had other plans. It always does. I swear life must laugh at my New Year’s resolutions each year. This year has brought me to my knees. I have cried more than I can remember.

My stepmum died this year. We found out she had cancer and she died within a month. Just like that. It felt like she just disappeared. My stepbrother died two months before that. He was my age. 40. And he died.

It was the second son my stepmum had lost. To see her afterwards; there are no words for that level of grief. My stepsister and brother have lost two brothers and their mum. That seems like an exceptionally unfair amount of pain.

But pain doesn’t work like that.

I sit here today and it feels like spring is coming. It’s coming and people are missing from my life but it’s coming anyway. Winter always ends.

So, for now: I give myself permission to be changed by the events of my life. You can’t be the same person after such a huge loss. But you can get back up when you’re on your knees.

You are stronger than you know. Choose to be strong. Choose to see the light in the dark.

Don’t avoid the pain. It’s meant for you. Let it leave you with the fuel to do more and be more. Let it have meaning.

We all get dealt bad blows. And when you do, you are acutely aware of people going through worse.

Life is always both. The good, the bad, the dark, the light. When you’re going through the dark times, remember the light. Try and find it. It’s always there.

Sometimes your life choices help you in ways you never thought about. Not having a permanent home has let me be there for my family so much more. Working as a contractor meant that I could work anywhere. I have been able to be physically present when it mattered and I could not have done that working a 9 to 5 job. This was not what I was thinking about when I made those choices but that was the outcome and I am blessed because of that.

It sounds cliché but you have to be grateful. Because when the sh*t hits the fan, people do amazing things.

I am grateful for all the love I’ve received this year. For the friends who have loved me through it. Who have made me laugh in spite of everything.

I have a beautiful memory of sitting by the water with a girlfriend and trading war stories about this past year. And all I could see was her light and all she could see was mine. That’s what life is about.

Being human hurts at times. Let it. Because it’s so beautiful too.

Jane is a freelance tour/event manager in the health world and has been lucky enough to work with some of her biggest heroes and inspirations. She has technically been homeless for 18 months now and hopes 2019 is the year she learns to sit still. But she will most definitely freak out if she signs a lease. She loves laughing, saying ‘wot?’ and knows all the best people in the world.