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Mamamia Profile: Australia can't decide if Constance Hall is a truth-telling goddess, or a 'loud, smelly bogan.'

I hear Constance Hall before I see her.

There’s a flurry of activity in the grungy Surry Hills dance studio I’m waiting in, and then Constance appears in front of me.

About ten inches from my face.

“I know you, right? We’ve met before?” she asks.

We hadn’t met before. But I definitely felt like I knew Constance.

Like a lot of women in Australia, I had watched Constance’s meteoric rise from small time blogger to one of the most hated women in Australia.

I knew about the frantic, sweaty three-minute sex she had with her ex-husband. I knew what her stomach looked like in those first few weeks after childbirth. I had seen her sitting on the toilet, undies around her ankles, typing away at her phone.

I knew Constance but I didn’t know if I liked Constance.

Watch: Constance Hall speaks to Mia Freedman on No Filter.

If you mention Constance Hall’s name to another woman, you’ll get one of two responses – “I love her” or “Eugh, I hate that woman”. The women who fit into the first category can tell you exactly why they love Constance. They’ll point you towards a blog post she wrote that made them stop feeling guilty about the piles of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. They’ll say she helped them learn to love their own post-baby saggy boobs. They might pull up their t-shirt, grab the elastic waist of their long, flowing skirt and say “I’m wearing a Mum Tum”.

The women who fall into the second category find it a little harder to pinpoint exactly what they hate about this woman they’ve never met before.

The words ‘loud’, ‘smelly’, ‘unclean’ and ‘bogan’ come up a lot.

These types of insults aren’t new to Constance, she’s been hearing them for years now. Every time she posts on social media or when one of the biggest women’s news sites in the country reports on her, the comments section is instantly flooded with vitriol-laden messages.

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“She looks like a walking venereal disease that needs to invest in a bra.”

“She looks like she needs to be bathed in a flea bath.”

“I wanna read about her in the West Australian obituaries.”

“Have a scrub you grubby looking cow.”

“I’m surprised her husband hasn’t hung himself.”

“Do Australia a favour and kill yourself you fat pig.”

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“The trolls will do anything they can to completely destroy me. And that gets the jugular, that’s what they go for."

Three years into her new found 'fame', Constance has mostly learnt to shrug off the hate. It still permeates every aspect of her life, but now instead of letting the pile-on smother her, Constance is able to step back and see it for what it really is.

“We are living in a generation of embarrassment and shame. If you can embarrass someone, then you win," Constance explains to me later.

“I'm not a smelly person. In fact, my husband says that I’m the least smelly woman he’s ever met. I’m very hygienic.

“The trolls will do anything they can to completely destroy me. And that gets the jugular, that’s what they go for."

***

A little over five years ago, Perth-born Constance was a struggling single mum. She had just given birth to her twins - Rumi and Snow - and she and her now ex-husband, Bill Mahon, had temporarily separated.

Feeling trapped at home with her four children under five - including the twins, middle brother Arlo, and older sister Billie-Violet - Constance decided to start a Facebook page.

"I felt like I was just stuck. I didn’t have anything, I couldn’t do anything once the twins were born, I was f*cked."

For a few years, Constance slowly built up her following. A few of her posts went viral, but no one really knew who 'Constance Hall' was yet.

"They say it takes ten years to become an overnight sensation," Constance laughs. 

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Then 'parent sex' happened. Constance fired off a quick, brutally honest post about what sex really looks like for new parents. She posted it on Facebook and got on with the rest of her day.

“We had 'parent sex' yesterday," the now infamous post read.

“You know what parent sex is, it’s that 3.5 minutes you get in between changing nappies and making food, where you notice that all of your kids are pretty distracted,

“Where you realise it’s been almost a month since you banged and are starting to feel like flatmates,

“Where your husband’s seduction consists of one finger pointing towards the bedroom and the other hand on his dick,

“Where you position the bed to have one foot against the door because for a loud bunch of kids, yours can be pretty quiet when they’re sneaking up on people,

“Where no matter how hot it is you chuck the doona on top of yourselves in case someone manages to barge through and catch mummy and daddy doing 'yoga' in bed,

“It’s a pretty romantic scene really, listening to Iggle Piggle in the background, knowing your days are numbered when you hear the ad break.

“Men are amazing and impressive creatures, by sheer determination, it’s inspiring how one can manage to 'finish' under such circumstances, us women, aren’t always so easy.

“All the while gleefully thinking about how much of a sex goddess, vixen you are and how your fella is finally going to stop being an arse for at least a whole day.

“Well mine was pretty impressed, even if I just lied there, saggy boobs, baby belly pouch, hairy minge and all, he still thinks I’m amazing.”

The post was immediately picked up by every major news outlet in the country. Suddenly everyone was talking about Constance Hall and her few minutes of fumbling under the doona, with one foot against the bedroom door.

Constance began appearing on morning TV shows and she was interviewed by some of the biggest radio duos in the country.

"That’s when I became a name and from then on people when they were commenting on my articles, weren’t so much commenting on the content, they were commenting about me," Constance explained.

"It became more about me and less about my content."

From then on in she was "the polarising  Constance Hall", not a nameless, faceless blogger in a sea of nameless, faceless bloggers.

"The viral thing, I looked at it like a wave. You can either catch it or you can get dumped by it," she said.

"If I had been someone who had just decided to try blogging, I wouldn’t have had enough ammo to catch that wave. But I had so much ammo because I had been writing for so long.

"So I was just pulling them all out - everything, every topic, every style of writing that I’d played with for years - and I was just catching that wave.

“[I was thinking] I’ve got to play my cards right here. I’ve got to keep the momentum going." 

That's when Constance did what many have found so unforgivable - she took the opportunity that was presented to her and she ran with it. She didn't claim to be 'blessed' or 'lucky', she didn't run away from the spotlight, she ran towards it, unflinching.

“Then I went viral heaps more times. Ashton Kutcher picked one of my posts up. Ellen’s company wanted to interview me on her website.

"America was taking notice of me and I was like ‘Holy shit, this is f*cking mad’."

Within six months, she had released her first self-published book, Like A Queen. The book was an instant bestseller, with more than 175,000 copies sold in Australia. To give context to the scale of that success, the average book released in Australia sells fewer than 10,000.

***

Three years later, Constance is still riding the wave.

She has another book, Still A Queen, under her belt and a radio show and podcast, The Queen Sesh with Constance Hall and Annaliese. Constance also has a clothing line, Queen the Label.

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She has also poured a fair chunk of her book proceeds into her charity, Rafiki Mwema, which helps children who are victims of sexual abuse in Kenya.

Her tribe has certainly increased but her life looks a little different now. Sometime between writing her first book and appearing on the reboot of Dancing With The Stars, Constance fell out of love with her first husband. Later she met fellow blogger, Denim Cooke, at a local skatepark and after a few months their friendship turned to love.

The pair married and welcomed their first son, Raja, in May last year.

Now a mum-of-five, and a stepmum to Denim's two teenage sons, Constance has shown no signs of slowing down.

While I watch her rehearse for Dancing With The Stars, it strikes me that she runs on a different frequency to the rest of us.

The 35-year-old, who has never had any formal dance training, is learning a quick step with her dance partner, Gustavo Viglio.

Constance and Gustavo bicker like brother and sister. Like two people who have known each other for years, not just a handful of weeks.

"You’re not explaining it right," Constance chides Gustavo as she reaches up to tuck a strand of hair behind his ear. “Ever since we got a good score your attitude has changed.”

The next minute she lets out a raucous laugh as Gustavo nuzzles into her neck, trying to get their romantic dance back on track.

“There’s a lot of that. 'Stick your pelvis out. Put your vagina on my knee'. He’s a very sexual person.”

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“It’s kind of like choose your own adventure now. They get to choose how this ends up for me.”
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As they weave around the tiny, sunlit studio, Constance's mind is milling over a thousand different things. She's still breastfeeding Raja and she has to fit her lengthy rehearsal sessions around his feeds. She's about to launch her new collection for Queen the Label and is emailing back and forth with her team. The show has just changed its voting rules and she's wondering how that's going to affect her ranking. She's worried her 'queens' won't be able to vote more than once.

Unable to stop thinking about this, Constance breaks away from Gustavo and records a quick Instagram story to update her followers about the change.

Constance says she wouldn't be 'Constance Hall' without the support of her 'queens'. They're the reason she's on Dancing With The Stars. They're also the reason she doesn't have a mortgage on her Margaret River home and no longer has to worry about how she's going to pay her bills.

“My followers are so supportive. They’re so kind. They’ve been through so much with me," she says.

***

People being genuinely interested in Constance's life isn't something that surprises her best friend, Annaliese Dent.

She met Constance on the first day of year one at their Perth primary school. Constance immediately stood out. Wearing hand-me-down clothes, she struggled to read, and often wore a look of defiance.

Annaliese, whose husband is now Constance's business partner, has watched her childhood friend grow from rebellious teenager to reality TV star, to something of a cult leader.

“I always knew she’d do something that was not in the norm. She was never a conformist. She was always pushing boundaries and being different and challenging authority at school if she didn’t believe in something."

According to Annaliese, Con's always been good at two things - standing up for people who don't have a voice and taking risks.

“But also she’s always been really good at recounting really crazy, hilarious tales from her life. And writing in such a way that connects."

Constance's older sister, Stella, also knew her 'little wild child' was always destined for something special. Even when Con was a little kid, people gravitated towards her.  Now she says Con has an actual physical effect on fans.

"When you do the book tour and you see in person the effect she has on a lot of women. They get very emotional, some of them kind of shake, they get very emotional and overwhelmed when they meet her." 

It's not only women who are drawn to Constance. Her second husband, Denim, was a fan long before he was a part of her life.

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"I recognised Con straight away when I saw her at the skatepark," he says. 

"I read posts from her and I thought she was funny and I thought she was on the money with a lot of her posts.

"I actually connected with it, even though I was a dad, I was a single dad, so I connected with the parent stuff."

The Constance that Denim met at the skatepark that day was exactly the same as her online profile.

She was warm and blunt, approachable and frank. She took the time to really get to know this stranger who ran across the skatepark to introduce himself.

 

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Acting our age ???? Groove in the Moo with lover boy ????

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"Con’s got a way with everyone she meets. She just cuts through all the bullshit with a scalpel and goes straight into your heart.

"She just goes deep really quickly." 

When a heavily-pregnant Constance married Denim, many believed she had finally got her happy ending.

That's why a lot of people found it jarring when Con started posting about the reality of married life just a few short months later. Denim was already pissing her off and she needed to vent to her 'queens' about it.

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"Who wrote the f*cking rule book that you can only share good things on social media?" she asks me.

"We all have this feeling that our relationship is f*cked and doomed and that’s because we’re putting such high expectations on ourselves. And if more people are honest, and said this is what I’m going through, it wouldn’t make us feel so alone in our relationships

"I feel alone in my second marriage and that was meant to be my big love story. It was my big love story, I met the man of my dreams. Two years later, I am so f*cking lonely when I’m at home with him."

***

While Constance feels lonely in her marriage, she never really gets to be alone. Even her quietest moments are punctuated with attacks from her trolls.

When 'parent sex' went viral, millions of people celebrated Con's frankness. Others made it their mission to destroy her. They flooded the comment sections, spreading lies about Constance. They started Constance hate groups on Facebook. They even printed off posters and plastered them around her hometown.

The more success she enjoyed, the more determined her detractors became.

The majority of Constance's biggest trolls have two things in common - they're women and they're really bloody angry.

Over the years, Con has become an expert at spotting the difference between a male and a female troll.

During her time on Dancing With The Stars, she was closely followed by a troll named 'Alfredo'. Alfredo claimed to be a man, but Constance believed this was a carefully-constructed ruse.

“This guy knows everything about me. Most guys aren’t that invested in me. One guy messaged me yesterday and he said ‘you need to close your legs and read a book’. He will never message me again," she explains.

"Whereas women become very personal. All of my real haters, the ones that started the groups, the ones that have taken it to the next level, they’ve printed things out and stuck them up on the street, they want to find my family, they want to find exes of mine, that sort of obsessive behaviour I found only comes from women.

"The only thing I can put it down to is that they’re so f*cking hurt, they’re living such shit lives, they’ve been put down so much by the people who were supposed to love them, that they have to spit vitriol."

For Denim, the comments about his new wife are just background noise. He doesn't even read them anymore.

"It’s just cut, copy, paste. The same stuff. The hair, you’re feral, the smell," he says. 

Annaliese has learnt to turn away from them. To pretend it isn't happening.

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“I don’t read the comments. It’s just too painful," she says. “There’s no point engaging. You’re just giving them oxygen and they love it. It makes me feel stressed and upset, so why give them oxygen?" 

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"But when you’re the underdog, you’re allowed to be brought up, but you’re not allowed to step any further than they bring you."

Stella can't help but read the comments about her little sister, even though they leave her with a sense of heaviness.

"I used to defend her all the time but it just made my heart really heavy and it just made me feel really sad, and made me only really see all the negative," she said. 

"I do read almost every single comment and part of me goes to type something and then I just think what’s the point?" 

***

 

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It seems unlikely the people who throw hate at Constance Hall really hate her.

After all, they've never met the Constance I've gotten to know over the past couple of weeks.

The Constance who is warm yet frank. The woman who is just trying to create a better life for her tribe.

The Constance who's not afraid to call bullshit on anyone. Especially herself.

It's more likely they hate what she represents.

“Sometimes you go to a party and you see a girl in her element and she’s being loud and she’s being fabulous, and you just don’t like her," Constance tells me.

"I think that’s inbuilt in us. I think it’s a jealousy threatening thing and I really do think people are threatened by me because I like who I am, and I’m confident, and other people are telling me I’m great."

Constance has created her own success story even though she's been told every step along the way that she doesn't deserve it.

She's not thin enough, pretty enough, clean enough, educated enough. She doesn't play by the rules and when she's told to shut up, her voice only grows louder.

“I’m the underdog. I don’t have a degree. I don’t have an amazing job or anything like that, or a job on the TV, so people thought 'She’s the underdog, we’ll bring her up'.

"But when you’re the underdog, you’re allowed to be brought up, but you’re not allowed to step any further than they bring you."

Constance's success plays on a fear inside of all of us - that some women will not be held down. They might feel self doubt, some days they might just want to crawl back under the doona and hide, but they push through.

And the very thought of an unstoppable woman is terrifying to us.

Listen to Mia Freedman's No Filter interview with Constance Hall. 

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