On Monday night I was lucky enough to see an advanced screening of the Barbie movie, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.
First up I do want to say that I think it will be one of THE MOST divisive films of this year, between critics and fans a like. I suspect it’s going to cause a fair sized shit storm, I can’t wait to see how the world processes and digests it. I felt conflicted at times watching it and I’m a hardcore Barbie fan!
Why will it divide? For so long Barbie (much like Dolly Parton) has appealed to all sides. It was up to the consumer to project whatever they wanted to onto her, she had the same beliefs, opinions and moral compass as the person playing with her. This movie effectively sees her pick a side, and I think it will challenge a lot of people. The film plays with gender roles, questions and critiques societal systems, makes fun of the patriarchy (in a weirdly loving way) and make no mistake about it, it’s absolutely feminist and woke. Towards the end of the film one of the characters gives an impassioned speech to rally the troops and manages to capture the stark truth of being AFAB and/or a woman in a man’s world, which is no easy feat and not something I expected to happen in this movie.
The film very clearly has three acts, the first one introduces us to Barbie land and opens with a banging, hilarious Lizzo song that narrates the opening scenes. We get a detailed lay of the land, a look into their way of life and we meet all the Barbies and Kens who live there, it’s a delicious visual feast. It felt like the first time I saw Dorothy step into Oz in all its technicolor glory. The attention to detail with the costuming and set design is incredible, throw every applicable award their way! You’ll be teleported back to a simpler time, a time just before pregnant Barbie (Midge) was discontinued. I have no notes on act one – it was the perfect set up.
In act two Barbie enters the real world and her existential crisis era. It’s the densest part of the film and where they clearly decided to tackle a lot of the meat of what they were trying to achieve. It also feels a bit like it was a part of the hostage negotiations to get the more fantastical stuff over the line, like the mandatory safety briefing, the sensible part, the “one safe take” for the sponsors. Will Ferrel as the CEO of Mattel is there and followed around by his merry men aka the rest of the toy company’s board. Truth be told, I can’t believe that the actual Mattel CEO agreed to this depiction of him and his company. He’s either extremely self aware, or in extreme self denial and I can’t work out which!
The third act takes us back to Barbie land, and there’s a Singing in the Rain, meets Grease, meets Westside Story song and dance number from all the Kens that will stay with me until my dying day. The twist for Ken in act three is genius and one I would never have thought of and yet now seems like an obvious place to explore for him, if Ryan Gosling doesn’t win an Oscar for this we riot.
Margot Robbie gives a deeply thoughtful and heart felt performance as Barbie, America Ferrera as our main human protagonist is all of us, she’s the perfect partner to Margot’s Barbie and keeps the film grounded in parts it threatened to completely blast into space. Kate McKinnon as “Weird Barbie” is outstanding and one of the highlights of the film. Weird Barbie represents that one Barbie we all went a bit too hard with, shaved her head, melted her toes, painted her face with a heavy hand and a sharpie and for some unknown reason had her perpetually in the spilts.
Barbie has SO MANY ideas (some may argue too many) and wants to achieve so much, at times it felt like they’d locked a bunch of conservative white men and hardcore feminists in a room and asked them all the things they loved and hated about Barbie, and then took that info and inserted it into the script as a way to address and douse potential fires the movie may light. What I mean is at times, it felt slightly defensive and like it was over explaining itself.
Fair warning, if you think about this movie too hard your brain may turn in on itself. So Barbie is the problem but she knows this and will address it but is still the problem? But at least now she knows it, but she’s still the problem? But wait! Is it ok that we still love her? Even though she’s the problem? It’s best that you don’t drill down too hard is what I’m saying. I did and I’m still attempting to find my way back from the pink Matrix.
I know some of you want to know if you should take the kids, honestly – I’m torn on this one. Despite its claim of being for all ages and all people, this movie is a straight up love letter to women of a certain age (hint: us) who lost themselves in the world of Barbie as kids. If you’re considering seeing this movie, then I reckon that’s probably you, and you (and your younger self) deserve to be completely immersed in Barbie Land without distraction. I genuinely think that anyone under the age of ten will struggle to follow along with the themes, especially in act two. That being said, it’s not inappropriate in any way, so if you have small people who are LEGIT Barbie mad, they will be fine. The “riskiest” discussions are around genitals and even then it’s not something you should be worried about.
The main question I had was would Greta Gerwig be able to pull it off? Could she deliver a movie that would be all the things it needed to be to satisfy the many complexities surrounding the world of Barbie, while simultaneously not completely shitting on the brand beloved by millions.
Yes, I believe she did. Not perfectly, but it’s certainly good enough to be dangerous. They made the thing, and they got as close to it being what it needed to be as I think anyone ever could. To tick every box and to keep everyone happy is not something anyone could have achieved in just one movie, it’s too complex a subject matter – but they got really bloody close.
Ultimately it is joyful, poignant, beautiful film and it made me feel a certain type of way. Both nostalgic and seen, which is really all you could want from a trip to the cinema.
Four Barbie Dream homes out of Five.
EM RUSCIANO TAKES POPULAR PODCAST ‘EMSOLATION’ INDEPENDENT FOLLOWING SUCCESSFUL RUN ON SPOTIFY
Australian comedian, singer, radio host and podcaster Em Rusciano has announced that her popular podcast, Emsolation, will move to independent production with a subscription-based opportunity after two years of success with global podcast giant Spotify.
Em has been a trailblazer in the podcasting world and has made the decision to embrace the subscription model, signalling her commitment to producing high-quality content for her subscribers. Her production company, Down the Hill Studios, will also expand to create new and exciting shows, providing listeners with even more engaging content.
“The podcasting space is currently going through serious expansion, and this move gives me the freedom to build my own corner of that universe, and to hopefully continue to grow it into something wildly successful and influential in the media landscape,” Em said.
Em expressed her gratitude to Spotify for supporting her over the past two years, and she is excited about the possibilities that the subscription model presents.
“We have thoroughly enjoyed our time collaborating with Em over the last 2 years. Em has been a wonderful partner, friend and advocate for our work together and we are excited for Em’s new chapter and look forward to working closely.” Said Prithi Dey, Strategic Content Partnerships Lead, ANZ.
As part of the transition, the last Spotify exclusive episode of “Emsolation” will air on May 11th. Starting May 23rd, subscribers will have access to a new regular Tuesday episode. Em will continue to produce the highly successful, free-to-access “Emsolation” episode on Thursdays, which will be available for listening on all podcast platforms. More information about the podcast and its subscription model can be found at www.emrusciano.com/emsolationpodcast.
Em Rusciano is a well-known figure in the podcasting and broadcasting world, and her decision to embrace the subscription model is another testament to her innovative approach to content creation.
For all media enquiries, please contact Giorgia Taylor from The Fordham Company – Giorgia@thefordhamcompany.com.au
[04 May 2023]
I was on Would I Lie To You? Australia!
Chrissie Swan, Charlie Pickering and Frank Woodley lead a panel with Christopher Pyne, Josh Lawson, Mel Buttle and ME!
Watch the episode HERE
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I joined HRH Fran Kelly on her brand new show Frankly with a killer lineup of guests! Climate warrior genius, adviser to the Biden administration and the man who might save us all Dr Saul Griffith, writer and creator of the new Heartbreak High Hannah Carroll Chapman, and for the second time this week I got to hang with Chloe Hayden, PLUS music from Mulga Bore Hard Rock – I had so much fun, it’s a bloody great show.
Watch the episode HERE
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Cats the movie is bonkers.
So completely and unequivocally bonkers, I’m not sure where to begin. Oh boy, it’s a stinker – but in a good way. Think Burlesque and Mariah Carey’s Glitter.
Even the most ardent fans of the original Andrew Lloyd Webber musical would admit that the show lacks a few things. A storyline, for one. When I heard they were making it into a movie my first thought was: how? And with what? And: BUT HOW AND WITH WHAT?! Then I found out it starred Idris Elba, Rebel Wilson, Tay Tay, Jennifer Hudson, James Corden, Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench and that other well known J.D (*grabs auto tune mic and sings*) JASON DERULO – and I felt reassured, because on paper that’s one hell of a cast!
(Side note: Did you ever think you’d see the day The Dame and The Derulo would act side by side?! What a time to be alive eh?)
But here’s the thing. Do you remember when women’s magazine would survey their readers to put together the ‘perfect’ female celebrity body, and then Frankenstein the winning parts back together to form some kind of super hot human hybrid as voted by the public? You’d whack Halle Berry’s boobs onto Cindy Crawford’s legs and insert Charlize Theron’s jawline, and in theory that person would look incredible; but in reality on the magazine’s page, they looked like the leftovers from a serial killer’s ransom note.
So this movie is kind of that, but with cats. Cats who spend two fucking hours introducing themselves and their back stories with elaborate song and dance numbers.
Basically the cats all have to turn up to a talent competition at the town hall. They then have to dance in front of Dame Judi Dench as she is the judge (think Paula Abdul on American Idol. Everyone loves her, and she’s a living legend but obviously has no idea where she is). The cats must prove to her why they deserve to be born again into a new and better life, because Dame Judi Dench is some kind of GodCat who can do that. Seriously, that’s it, I’m pretty sure I’m quoting the script word for word.
The film is carried by the lesser known actors, with the big guns (with the exception of The Dame) just swinging in for short cameos. Gandalf cat (Sir Ian) genuinely seemed to have wandered onto the set by accident, improvised a few things and then disappeared again. It was truly baffling.
Taylor Swift is on screen for a swift hot minute. She makes a fabulous entrance, gets everyone high and is the only cat with tits and heels. Me-ow.
J-Hud is the resident broken down diva Grizzabella, she does A LOT of peering sadly around corners and has some pretty dramatic nose snot happening for most of the movie. She does get to sing the shit out of Memory which is the only reason anybody loves Cats, let’s be real.
Straight up truth: if you’re not in any way familiar with Cats the musical, you probably won’t enjoy this film. Unless you’re on a pretty heavy acid trip and you’re looking for something to completely eradicate the last parts of your brain.
But on the other hand, if you do like Cats…. Look, I don’t wanna be a hater McHaterson, I dig people being creative and weird and trying new shit and this is all of those things. I’m also flat out this movie’s target demo: I’m into musicals, fantasy, and campery. I wanted to love it so badly but mother of PEARL they made it hard. It’s wildly confusing and obscure and has probably dethroned Grease Two as the worst musical ever made into movie.
But that being said – I’ll be thinking about it for days. Just like J-Hud, this movie will be lurking around the corners of my mind, bursting into song when I least expect it.
It should also be noted that I was sexually attracted to cat Idris Elba, although he had no genitals whatsoever and I think that was a mistake. They had a one hundred million dollar budget and couldn’t give Idris some believable cat junk?! That’s definitely why they got snubbed by the Golden Globes. Pussies without peens.
Sexy nude Idris Alba cat: 20/10
Em’s non spolier Frozen 2 recap.
Remember how we kinda hated Elsa and Ana’a parents because they were all like “Elsa, hide those magical powers, conceal don’t feel bish!” And then they got themselves dead in a mysterious shipwreck, but we didn’t really care much. I mean we were sad for the kids but if we’re all being honest – none of us were emotionally attached to Mum and Dad. Even the film just kinda rolled a tiny velvet curtain over their portrait to symbolise their demise and then moved on. On a side note, Disney ain’t afraid to kill off a parent; can I get an amen up in here Mufasa and Bambi’s mum?!
Well forget that shit, because in Frozen 2 we get full back story realness and those two negligent parentals have a few more dimensions than we gave them credit for!
The film starts with flashbacks ahoy, I won’t give too much away but it’s super cute and we hear Ana and Elsa’s Mum sing and it’s sweet AF. Then we move to present day Arendelle and Elsa has some new purple eyeshadow, some jazzy flat boots and a positive attitude! She’s also moved away from the blue peasant girl vibe outfit-wise, and into a lilac dress, with power shoulders and matching pants. It’s very mid-90’s Gwen Stefani and I’m not mad about it. There’s some subtle diamontee work through the neckline and down the back of her sensible cape. Her look says: Yes I’m an ice queen but I could also be a corporate lawyer for the seven Dwarfs should the occasion call for it.
Elsa starts hearing voices and look, in the scheme of things, it doesn’t seem to phase her that much. Her possible schizophrenia moves us into the first power ballad of the movie, “Into the unknown” and I AM HERE FOR IT! She’s hitting an F chest belt first chorus in, and I was clapping in my gold class Jason recliner!
Olaf is back, as annoying as ever. I wish he had’ve found out what frozen things do in summer in Frozen 1. He gets a number about stuff making sense when you get older but honestly I wasn’t paying attention. He did have one shinning moment which stoped me from wanting to take him to the nearest seven eleven and turn him into a sassy slushy – he recounted the first frozen movie to some new characters who needed to be caught up. It was a hot, funny conscious stream of thought vomit verbalised and I was amused.
Kristoff is back and has moved into the castle even though he and Ana aren’t married (they’re quite progressive in A town huh?) he wants to take their relationship to the next level, he is still has a slightly worrying co-dependent relationship with his reindeer but he’s got a strong jawline and a kind heart so I’ll allow it. Elsa keeps hearing voices, and then earth, wind and fire turn up (not the 70’s funk band – the elements) rip the town apart and the residents of Arendelle are fucked yet again. Then the trolls pop in for a confusing cameo, granddad troll with the grass mullet says some shit about prophesies and bridges and mysterious trees. So then the gals have to go check out some enchanted forest for reasons I can’t tell you – not because I don’t want to spoil the movie I just straight up don’t understand why. It feels as though the makers of this franchise were given 100 bajillion dollars an felt the need to jam 57 stories lines in and I honestly couldn’t confidently tell you the synopsis of this film even if I wanted to. I dunno how a five year old is meant to get it because this moderately intelligent 40 year old got lost when the stone giants, tiny cute fire lizard and ice horses appeared..
OH YEAH THERE ARE TOALLY ICE HORSES AND THEY ARE EPIC WITH GLISTENING MANES AND ELSA TOTALLY RIDES ONE AND I WEPT REAL SALTY TEARS!
Kristoff gets the song of the movie IMO ‘Lost in the woods’ – it’s an 80’s power ballad complete with split screens and meaningful and wistful stares atop cliffs with a bohemian rhapsody reindeer accompaniment.
Then Elsa totally does an Elsa, and ditches everyone to go and find herself – AGAIN.
While living her eat, pray, love fantasy, she falls into some underground epic ice world of future and past combined, she then gets a total make over – we’re talking queer eye on crack levels of hair, make-up and clothing. I can totally hear Jonathan Van Ness screaming ‘YES HENNY. SERVING FIERCE SILVER FOX FAIRY BAREFOOT REALNESS!’ She then sings ‘Let it go’ sorry I mean ‘Show yourself’ and I CRIED MORE SALTY TEARS!
It also turns out that there was an indigenous population of Arendelle that the white people of the town totally screwed over and look Disney really tried to make this film ethnically diverse.. Well.. They tried.. Not hard enough, but I could see effort..
Then there are more ice stallions and I honestly could have watched two full hours of Elsa and her iceypole steeds riding majestically atop the dark sea. I’m not joking, whichever gay at Disney came up with this plot line needs to be paid all the money and made the boss of the world.
The underlying themes of not feeling as though you’re in the right place in your life because you’re ignoring your inner voice which is speaking your truth will hit a nerve for A LOT of women. Then when Elsa goes in search of said voice, listens to it and ends up resplendent and glorious riding atop a FUCKING ICE PONY – you will leave determined to make some serious changes in your life. This film is as much for the exhausted Mothers taking their children along to see it as it is for the small people.
Then it’s the end and Arendelle is saved because of the sisters and Ana gets a new job and Elsa joins Captain Planet’s gang.
Still no romance for Elsa, poor bish. Can’t even masturbate without an oven mitt… Or you know.. SHABLAM: CLITSICLE.
Storyline: 3/10 But honestly who cares.
Attention, my loves.
I’ve written a new song. An anthem.
You know how we always say ‘grow a pair’ and ‘balls of steel’ and ‘man up’? Well, that ends now.
I give to you: The FLAP UP movement.
Flap Up definition: Rising to a challenging situation with heart, grit and intelligence.
If the boys at work won’t talk about their feelings, tell them to FLAP UP!
If your friend keeps allowing herself to be treated in a disrespectful manner by her partner, tell her to FLAP UP!
If your son or daughter falls over on the sporting field and needs some words of encouragement to rise again? FLAPPIN’ FLAP UP!
This week, I film my comedy special Rage and Rainbows at the Palais Theatre, before I release it into the stratosphere (Tickets still available, go go go!). This will be the final song, complete with 12 dancing vaginas.
I need my people (you know who you are. If you’ve read this far, you are one of them) to learn these lyrics below. Yell them at strangers. Chant them on the train. Sing them to your sleepy child.
Flap Up lyrics
Why do-we equate balls with being tough?
And you’re a pussy if you’re not strong enough?
A gentle flick, on his knees you’ll find a man
But a vagina can birth a human
Take that strength, put it in you when you’re feeling weak
Or shout it at a stranger, scared on the street…
Imagine lips of steel.
It’s the new way to feel.
It’s beyond human biology
It’s an attitude, a new philosophy
Girl, boy, woman or man can
Harness the power of the mighty vag
When you’re down, feeling low, world might swallow you whole
Just look within and grab your metaphorical minge
And Flap up!
Imagine lips of steel.
It’s the new way to feel
Did you know it’s the only organ in the body with a spot just for pleasure? Plus the fact it gives life and love means it should be a fucking national treasure.
(Flap up, flap flap up…)
Hey you! Yeah, you! It’s time to Flap up!
And Flap up!
Imagine lips of steel.
It’s the new way to feel
2019 TOUR ANNOUNCEMENT
Go on, admit it. That’s the best damn poster you’ve ever seen, isn’t it?! That unicorn was named ‘Gary’ (by my husband Scott) and not only did Gary demand a bow to match my purple leopard print explosion, he also had a fan blowing his mane out like Beyoncé. What a diva. I finally met my match.
Now, about the show.
Why Rage and Rainbows?! Because it’s the two extremes I’ve found myself swinging between over the past year. Because it’s probably what will be written on my tombstone when I die. Because once you get to the other side of anger, good shit is usually waiting for you (i.e a pot of gold. Or a cheeky leprechaun. You never know).
Here’s the official blurb:
“For ten years, if you asked Em Rusciano how she was, she said, “fine”. Yeah bullshit. She was lying awake at 3am with unexplained rage, and so was EVERY OTHER WOMAN SHE KNEW.
This past year, Em had a baby, turned 40, left her job and had a combined 45 minutes sleep. There’s been next-level rage. There’s also been love. There’s been day drinking and breast feeding NOT AT THE SAME TIME PISS OFF CLICK-BAIT WRITERS.
In the ‘Rage and Rainbows’ tour— Em is finally giving voice that gnawing rage we all try to hide. She’s unleashing it, she’s dunking it in white wine, she’s rolling it in glitter, and giving it an 8 piece back up band and four costume changes.
She’s also going to tell you what to do with it, and send it on it’s way.
More than a show, ‘Rage and Rainbows’ is a festival for anyone who’s felt fed up, furious, exhausted, demoralised… but has still maintained a strong passion for sequins.
You feeling me??
I wanted to understand my unexplained anger (look, a lot of it was easily explained, actually – hey family, don’t walk past the dog vomit and tell me there’s dog vomit; PICK THE DOG VOMIT UP). I was feeling the undercurrent of women being fed up with how things were turning out for us not only on a global scale, but also in our own lives.
So I decided to do a deep dive on that rage: I spoke to the Mothers at the school gate, I spoke to the women at the shops, I spoke to men about the women in their lives… and I realised I wasn’t alone. I think it’s time women stop re-packaging their anger to make it more comfortable for everyone else. In the long run, it’s self-harm, and it only hurts the people around us when we think we’re actually protecting them. Can you do a funny show about anger – hell yes! Because if you don’t laugh you’ll cry, right guys?!
So that’s what the show is about.
Rage and Rainbows also has ORIGINAL SONGS. Original, fabulous, sing-along songs, which I got to write with the unbelievably talented Kate Miller-Heidke and her partner Keir Nuttall. Now, listen here: I want you to learn them before the show. Study them. Press play/pause on your stereo and write out the lyrics while lying on your bed with a lollipop, like the good ol’ days. I want you to be able to sing along with me, lighter in the air, hand on your heart. Scroll down for the links to songs.
There’s also some fancy VIP packages available, which makes me feel like Mariah. VIP’s get to do fancy things like see a private sound check party before the show, have a little Q&A, and get some super stylish Merch that I have designed myself. More details via the ticket links on the tour page, or on the Frontier Comedy website.
Okay, let’s talk dates. I’ve already had to add in two additional shows, you glorious thirsty bitches!
DATES / CITIES
ATTENTION SYDNEY! There’s been a date change for the extra show we added due to a scheduling conflict. It was announced as Sunday 11th August, but it’s been changed to Friday 9th August (hooray! A non-school night! More wine!) at 8pm, still at Enmore Theatre.
Existing ticket-holders will have received an email from Ticketek to tell you: your tickets are still valid for the Friday show, and you can absolutely get a refund if you need. Fingers crossed it still works for you anyway, and if it doesn’t: I’m SO sorry. I’ll raise a glass in your honour, my loves. Any issues, contact Ticketek or Frontier comedy and they’ll sort you out.
Tickets are officially on sale, and selling fast (no, really. Some of the shows are already sold out. GO NOW. GO GO GO). Click on the button below for your city to be directed to the booking site.
SONGS TO LEARN:
So here’s your homework.
1. Book your tickets (on sale now).
2. Learn the songs.
3. Gather your rage, and meet me at the theatre.
I’ve put everything I have into this comedy concert – physically, financially, emotionally, musically, unicornally. I started writing it last year, attempting to get it all finished before my baby was born. Hahahaha. Nice try, Em. I then continued writing it after he was born, breaking every five minutes to breastfeed, eat, cuddle, or scream into a pillow. But I did it. I finished writing the damn show.
I can’t wait for you to see it, dolls. Bring it on.
Following what feels like the gestation period of an African elephant, I’m ripe and ready for birthing!
After my miscarriage in 2016 I couldn’t see a way through to where I am now, I was lost in a fog of grief with seemingly no end in sight. Now, at nine months pregnant and content with a son moving around in my belly, I look back and wish I could grab that sad lady by the shoulders, and tell her she’ll feel alive on the inside once again. In truth I spent the first few months of this pregnancy swinging from joy and elation to sadness and paralysing fear. I desperately tried not to become too attached to the idea of another baby, just in case. I smiled and made the appropriate noises when I spoke about it, but on the inside was a cold determination to protect my heart. You see, no one really speaks about the emotions that come with the pregnancy after the one that ended without a baby.
I know that I’m lucky to be here, about to give birth, but the truth is: this pregnancy has taken it’s toll on me in so many ways. And while I am grateful, I’m also worn out. Which almost feels like a betrayal to my baby to say out loud, but there you have it.
I’ve been challenged many times on how I see myself as a woman and a Mother.
I like to be in control, that’s no secret to anyone. I like to know what’s going to happen and when, so that I can brace myself for the fallout, be it good or bad. It’s an anxiety coping mechanism, I know that. When you’re pregnant your body goes completely rogue. It assumes the biological autopilot position and you’re left clinging on for dear life. You’re reduced to being a passenger on board your own body, with nothing left to do but sit and stare out the window as each change occurs:
“Oh look – another stretch mark!”
“Someone pass me the nail clippers, I’ve got thirteen new skin tags between my thighs!”
“Over there, a haemorrhoid is squeezing it’s way out of my anus – STUNNING!”
All the while, people expect you to smile and wave because that’s what us preggos are meant to do. It makes others uncomfortable if we’re not happily nesting, rubbing our growing stomachs and generally being maternal as fuck.
I’ve had to stop doing a lot of the things I love and have become a low-key hermit. My friends haven’t seen me in months, and I’ve stopped performing and working as my body wasn’t coping with my lifestyle. In other words, I’ve had to hand my entire person over to this pregnancy, and that has challenged the ambitious, sassy business lady in me enormously.
I’m both terrified and in awe of the ways in which my body has changed and adapted over the past thirty seven weeks. Women’s bodies are miraculous things. There have been times where I’ve caught myself feeling worried or repulsed by what’s occurred to me physically. It’s hard not to when your previously B cup breasts now nestle themselves snuggly inside a D cup, and when set free, rest atop your growing stomach like two giant, mono-nippled Jabba The Huts. And when lifted for aeration, they have the surface temperature of ‘centre court at the Australian Open’ degrees celsius underneath. On these occasions, I’ve mostly been able to remind myself that there’s a human life growing inside of me. A whole new person to come into the world, created by the factory of my body… and then I just worry about that instead of the cellulite on the side of my knees.
I wanted to say to any woman who is pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or may one day want to be pregnant; it’s okay at times to feel stress, anger and pain when you’re up the duff. Society is really only comfortable with us pretending that this is the happiest time of our lives when sometimes, it’s not! I mean, I was promised there would be ‘glowing’, and yet the only sheen coming off me has been sweat.
That all being said, as I head into my final weeks of pregnancy, I say thank you to my body for what it has achieved. I’ve been hard on her more times than I care to admit, but what a bloody marvel it is to have done this thing. Instead of criticising my thighs, skin and everything in between, I say thank you for growing thighs, skin and everything in between. I say in my best Osher Günsberg voice: We’re at the pointy end of the competition, the summit of the mountain, the finish line of the marathon and now more than ever you need to go softly into each day.
Most days, I sit in the nursery imagining what’s to come. I’m bursting to meet this child and once again experience those magical first few days that only a newborn can bring. I let that warm feeling spread through my bones, and it feels good to allow that to happen.
Thanks for coming on the journey with me friends, I feel like this has been a communal pregnancy of sorts. Your words of encouragement, gifts and well wishes have kept me going.
Let the next chapter begin: Current day Em with a baby!
What does that look like? I have no idea but I know there will be plenty of tears, bodily fluid and some bad behaviour – and that’s obviously just me.
I received an email late last week from a member of our community who has just recently left a violent home situation. Not only is she starting a new life for herself, she’s also decided to help other women in a similar situation. She asked the following question of me:
I am looking for any tips you may have that can help me embody a fraction of your strength and honesty, but more importantly, help me not chicken out.
First of all, I’ll tell you what I told her: she’s already done the bravest thing I can think of in actually leaving the environment she was in. Anything else from there is a bonus. She’s also putting herself in the service of others, which is another strong and selfless thing to do. I truly believe she’s going to go on and do rad things (I can’t tell your her name for obvious reasons, but just know that she’s glorious).
I get asked a lot about being brave. I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly brave person – put me in a small space with a moth, and you’ll see exactly what I mean. I’ve a complicated relationship with my self esteem: there are certain facets of myself and my life in which I have a quiet, unrelenting self-belief (my parenting skills, my marriage, my ability to prance on a stage in a leotard), but there are other areas of my life that may cause me to implode from anxiety and self-doubt (literally everything else).
However, it would seem a lot of you do see me as brave, which means I am a) eternally grateful and b) an excellent magician. So I sat down and thought about how I could help you guys find your inner iron, resilience and strength. I’m not an expert in any way (unless we are talking about Ru Paul’s Drag race, the early years of Madonna, or how to tell the time without looking at a watch), but I can talk you through my iron-clad thought process when dealing with the issues that I feel particularly vulnerable about.
The one that’s keeping me up most at night (besides the impending arrival of my son) is my career.
While half of my time is spent creating shows, books, merch and experiences for my community to love and enjoy, the other half is spent reminding, hustling and convincing them to consume the things I’ve made – or my family won’t eat! I left the security of a very high paying job because it stopped me from being able to do the things I love. For two glorious years I didn’t have to worry about people still liking me enough to show up for the art I made. I just made it with reckless abandon (and of course you all came anyway because you’re fabulous like that). Now it’s all on me. I’m in the middle of writing my first fiction novel and next year’s live show, and I swing between creative ecstasy and crippling fear. I have to constantly coach myself (even right now – this is like a live counselling session) to Take The Pressure Down* a notch. I desperately want my new book to out-sell my best-selling last book, so that I can compete with myself. Healthy? No. The birth of an amazingly hilarious fiction novel that definitely isn’t based on all the stories of my life that I can’t sell as a biography or I’d be sued? Yes.
The live show is flowing directly from my soul at this point in time. It’s about female rage and how we need to embrace it – Kate Miller-Heidke and I are working on the original songs, I have an all-female band, and hopefully there’ll be a dragon on stage – ’nuff said. History has shown me that if I put in real, honest and heartfelt work, you guys will show up – and that’s what makes me brave.
“Okay, Em…” I hear you fuming at the screen. “Besides this being a way for you to FLOG your wares to us, what is my take-away? You promised me bravery!”
Fair call, my love. Fair call.
Here is your take-away: Remember the times you rose like a phoenix, during the times you feel like a flaccid penis.
I mean if that’s not a fucking song lyric in the making, I don’t know what is. I should’ve put it on a picture of a sunrise, or some puppies, or a waterfall. Wait a minute:
You can’t be brave and fearless all the time, but at some point in your life you have been. That’s how I do it. If I’m feeling unsure, I reach back in for an occasion when I was owning life. When that annoying voice in my head says “you can’t”, I hit her with “yeah, but I have before and I will again”.
My all time favourite quote that doesn’t involve the cast of Steel Magnolias (honestly that film should just be made into an extra volume of the encyclopaedia Britannica) is the one I put in my book. It’s called ‘The Man in the Arena’… I just change the man bit…
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who never know victory or defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Whatever or wherever your arena is, get in it bitches. You’ve got this. (I just said that out loud to myself as well! I feel so much better, don’t you?!)
By the by this week is “bring a friend week” to my blog, so your job now is to send my words to a mate who may need a bit of steel in their veins at the moment.
*Yes, you spotted a subtle John Peter Farnham reference. We stick together like honey and the bee, okay?!
P.S I had a HUGE response to my top 5 newborn baby products blog. THANK YOU for your hundreds of comments and recommendations. Lucy and I will go through them this week and compose a helpful list for any other preggos feeling overwhelmed by all the new info out there!