Meet Controversial Blogger Constance Hall
She's the controversial blogger who reckons it’s high time we recognised our inner royal. Rebecca Barry Hill meets Constance Hall
The term “mummy blogger” comes with — possibly unfair — preconceptions: the corporate-escapee-turned-earthy type making quips about the darndest things her kids do, the supermum flogging all-natural baby products.
Constance Hall comes with no such baggage. The Perth-based blogger (and former hairdresser and Big Brother contestant) shoots from the hip, which, as she’ll tell you in cringe-worthy detail in her new book Like A Queen, is close to where her four children painfully sprang from.
She is honest — too honest, soon-to-be-parents might say. But it’s a raw and hilarious frankness that has made her a star, driven by viral posts about “parent sex” (the 3.5 minutes between changing nappies and making food), along with her experiences of sleeplessness, anxiety, marital discord, poor body image, guilt — and the judgments of others when your kid has a meltdown in public.
Readers clearly appreciate her ribald sense of humour. In the past year she has amassed a million Facebook followers here, in Australia and the UK. She’s just as surprised as anyone. When she started out, writing blog posts in the car while on the school run, she figured her stories about her messy life would scare people off having kids. She found it was the opposite, that the “army of women” who shared her views online felt empowered by her imperfections, just as she felt empowered by theirs.
“I didn’t think I could have kids but now I totally realise that I can because it’s okay to not like, love it all the time, and to not breastfeed until they’re 3 and to not have a vaginal, drug-free birth,” says the husky-voiced 33-year-old, during a New Zealand visit to promote her book, and speak at an event for the Women’s Collective.
“I’ve learnt that these women feel really empowered by the truth. If everyone was just that little bit more honest, maybe we could pull down the barriers and stigmas. People resonate with the truth, they don’t want to read a paid post about how amazing this new cucumber dip is for kids’ nappy rashes.”
Behind the LOLs about breastfeeding and toilet training is a wisdom that comes from having a mini tribe (Billie-Violet, 6, Arlo Love, 4, and twins Rumi and Snow, 1) but also from hanging out with her aunts. One works in child development and gave her niece the greatest parenting insight of all: she was doing just fine.
Like a Queen shares her aunt’s sentiments, reassuring women they don’t necessarily have to overhaul their parenting style other than to let go of some of the guilt. “Everything we read is to make us feel bad. So we think, ‘oh yeah that’s true, my kid is having too much sugar, my attachment parenting is going to destroy my kids’. It’s horrendous. It’s everywhere.”
It’s partly why Constance refers to her readers as “queens”, a nickname that stuck after she posted a topless image of herself holding her baby a year ago. “I was so tired of feeling like, ‘I don’t look good in bathers, I don’t like my body’, and I realised, my whole life, no matter how great I’ve looked, I’ve been unhappy.
So I did this post, like, let’s just be queens and realise that we’re gorgeous. And everybody started sharing their bodies. And the next day people were referring to me as queen, and I’m referring to them as queen. It was never meant to be anything other than an empowering, cute way of giving each other the nod.”
Not that everyone has jumped on the queen train. Earlier this year, fellow Aussie blogger Lisa aka The Notorious M.U.M indirectly took a potshot at Constance’s “cult-like” popularity, suggesting mums should aspire to more than to “pop out a sprog and then f — off to the pub wearing a T-shirt that says ‘Mamma Bear’”.
If the criticism isn’t coming from her peers, it’s coming from readers. “I get trolled all the time,” says Constance. “The posts that people love the most also get the most haters. The days I gain the most followers are also the days I lose the most followers. You can never please everyone. I think I might be a ‘love her or hate her’ kind of person.”
Reading Like a Queen, it feels as though there’s no topic too taboo or personal, but she does draw the line at over-exposing her children. Her husband Bill, on the other hand, appears to be fair game. They still fight like cats and dogs, she says, but it’s Bill who encouraged her to pursue the book and who supported her while she wrote it.
They put their twins into daycare five days a week for three months so she could write; the rest was done at nights and on weekends. The result is a Mum bible of real-life stories and affirmations delivered in her blunt style.
Unsolicited advice used to be one of her bugbears — now she just stares at the advice-giver and says “thanks”, before letting it roll off her. Her own advice in the book is to trust your instincts and simply to love your children. “You can’t love them enough. You’re going to make mistakes, we all are, but if you’re giving them that foundation of love that’s all going to project into the world. That’s how you make the world a better place.”