HATE ME... GO FOR IT!
New husband, new baby, new book — and all of the same old criticisms. But Constance Hall won’t let anybody dethrone her as Australia’s most confronting (and comforting) social-media sensation. NAOMI CHRISOULAKIS reports
AS Constance Hall walks into a room, she takes possession of it. It is not just the physical presence — that wild head of hair, a leopard-print coat and rings on almost every finger — but also the larger-than-life personality that accompanies it.
As the mother of five regales tales of flying from Margaret River to Sydney with a newborn, her husky laugh fills the space; husband Denim Cooke looks on quietly as he holds their onesie-clad son Raja, now five weeks old. They’ve left the rest of their blended brood — seven, all up — at home in WA.
“Just stop me, because I babble,” Hall, 34, says as she sits down for a chat. But it’s an order that will prove impossible to follow because Hall’s “babbling” is responsible for her immense success. A bestselling book under her belt and another out now, a profitable clothing line, a radio show, sellout tours and millions of fans on social media — all kicked off by a Facebook post on “parent sex” that went viral.
Hall has become a byword for unfiltered, sharing unedited photos of her “mum tum” and writing posts on postnatal depression, calling out sexism and slut-shaming, and being brutally honest about the downsides of parenting, all with a take-no-prisoners attitude. Her self-published memoir
Like A Queen became the highest grossing book in the country last year, selling 150,000 copies online.
Not bad for someone who was kicked out of high school — twice — and struggled to read as a child.
None of this has been without the predictable drawbacks: becoming “Australia’s most hated woman”, as Hall puts it, would top the list. Her swift rise as our most notorious mummy blogger-with-a-difference was quickly followed by a backlash when she revealed last year her marriage was over and, less than three weeks later, announced she was with a new man.
“When I first started going viral, it was 95 per cent positive comments on news stories but very quickly, within about six months, it was about 95 per cent negative,” Hall recalls.
“Revisiting what happened, I couldn’t have done anything differently, but it was really, really hard. I was almost just about to fade out and go, ‘That was fun but it didn’t work out.’ And then I thought, ‘No. F--- it, I am not disappearing like that.’”
It’s not the first time Hall has used hard times to motivate herself; as the daughter of a young single mum, she says her upbringing gave her grit and drive — she hates to see opportunities pass her by.
“When I’m walking through the rich areas in Perth, I’m like . . .” She blows a loud raspberry. “Because those mums are the kids who shunned me. Everyone thought us kids would be f---ed up, so as soon as my mum sees anyone from that life she’s like, ‘Oh don’t you know? My daughter’s Constance Hall, bestselling author, clothing line, over a million followers.’
“It’s a good feeling. I didn’t go to high school long enough to get invited to any reunions, but I’m always telling my friends, ‘Make sure they know! Do you want to FaceTime me in?’” She roars with laughter.
Her radical honesty is, Hall insists, not one bit calculated.
“I’ve always been an open book, and it’s not something that I’ve purposely decided to do. When I was a hairdresser, a client would leave and I’d go, ‘Why did I have to go and tell her that?’ But it’s so much more relaxing to be like that. I feel really good getting everything out there. And you know what? If you want to hate me for that, go for it.”
But with a divorce going through the courts and two lawsuits against her for breaches of contract, she has to be a little more careful.
“That’s definitely clipped my wings – I might be having a sh-- day because of that, but I can’t really talk about it, legally.” She is happy to talk about everything else though, from falling in love with her new husband (she has always
maintained it happened months after she and her husband separated) to thoughts of suicide.
On that last topic, she reveals: “It was when too many things happened at once. I’ve had days when I’m stressed out about a court case, when someone threatens to publish my phone number and then I’m served some more papers. So many people are relying on me now and I’m just juggling all these balls . . . and I’m lying in my bed thinking, ‘I could just jump off that balcony, it would be so much easier than dealing with all the things that I have to deal with.’ And then I think about my friends with terminal cancer and I’m like, ‘Get a f--king grip, Con.’
“I think that is all behind me now, though. I think that after everything I’ve gone through, nothing is going to stress me out, career-wise. I love, love, love what I do now and I am not as affected by the hatred. It was obviously something I had to go through to learn that lesson.”
Career aside, Hall says she is unapologetic for the happiness in her life. “Towards the end of last year, I was finishing the book and a lot of people bagged me for meeting Denim so quickly. That’s when I thought, ‘No, I deserve to be happy.’ The people who love me were there for me, supporting me. They’re the people I’m writing to.”
Those women are the ones who come up to her on the street and tell her she’s helping them, the ones she buys drinks for and hugs when they cry in her presence. Ask Hall why she strikes so many nerves, and she reckons it is because her approach has given women explicit permission to be real with themselves and each other. “You just need someone to break down the barrier first, and that was me. It’s like when you first meet someone and they’re like, ‘My husband’s such a f--khead,’ and you can go, ‘So is mine!’ It makes it so much easier to be honest when someone’s being honest with you.
“We get to a point as women where we start telling ourselves, ‘No, that’s not for me.’ We can’t travel or we can’t go for that job or for that man, because of whatever it is that makes us feel ruined,” she says. “I want women to realise that’s what actually makes us great: show it off and be proud of it. You’re not too fat, you’re not underqualified. If you’ve got the vision, you’ve got the path.”
Hall now plans to build on her charity work — she’s donated $170,000 and raised a further $200,000 with the help of her community of followers for Rafiki Mwema, a Kenyan organisation that supports child survivors of sexual abuse. She’s also got 20,000 words of a fiction book for teenage girls up her sleeve. And in the rest of her spare time, she’s ignoring her critics and focusing on the connections she makes with women around the country.
“When people come up to me, I want them to feel like they’re a part of something, because they are. I submitted my writing to everyone and no one listened to me until all these women said: ‘We care.’ I owe everything to them.”
Like a Queen by Constance Hall (likeaqueenshop.com, $29) is out now.
In demand: Constance Hall’s wedding. Pictures: Facebook/Constance Hall