Interesting People: Lexi Campbell-Kentmann

Today, thoughts on life, blogging and facial hair from one of my favourite women of the internets, Lexi. You may know her as pottymouthmama, Grande Dame of Australian blogging. She’s feisty. She’s fabulous. And she’s not afraid to go to work in her office dressed as Frida Kahlo. What more could you ask for in a ladycrush?

Hi Lexi. You have been blogging since the Early Cretaceous Period. What are your thoughts on how Australian blogging has evolved and changed? Do you like the place that blogging is at now?

I can totally get myself into hot water over here. But heck, that never stopped me. Back when the pteradactyl and I were still dating, blogging was essentially about connecting, community and storytelling. When those traditional relationships of talking over the back fence kind of dissolved, I felt like blogging stepped in to fill that lonely void. It was a good time, and I think of that early period of blogging as a real ‘heyday’ of sorts. It wasn’t sullied with brands trying to muscle in on our friendships.

Blogging now is definitely a different ball game. It’s more commercial, and — should I just whisper it, I think it’s a lot about ego. OK now that that’s out of the way, everything has to evolve, but I also think there’s a small cluster that hold onto those initial first days, and I think that’s kind of nice.

Why did you start your blog and how has it changed over time? Have you ever been surprised by a post that resonated with readers unexpectedly?

I started my blog back when Paddlepops were 20 cents. I used to walk to school barefoot chasing runaway piglets down the street, calling out to Molly, Esme as she ate Gemfish Cleopatra, and said hi to Sally and Milko. That’s how long ago I started. Or maybe it was 2008. Either way, I started because I wanted a little space for myself. By this time I had two small kids, I had three years prior said goodbye to a job in a busy, bustling PR agency, and lived at the back of my in-laws house. Sounds pretty idyllic doesn’t it. *cough*

I’ve always loved writing, and blogging was for me a daily discipline, with the added bonus of making friends. I’ve often been surprised by posts that resonate with readers, I can never really guess what’s going to hit home for my readers.

I suppose it shouldn’t be so surprising, but I wrote about my experience of having a miscarriage, and the stigma associated with it. It was a really personal experience that I just had to get out of me and talk about, turns out lots of women felt the same – which was pretty amazing to have a lot of people reach out and share their stories. I held a great sadness and darkness after my miscarriage, I still get comments on that post, and occasionally an emails, to get a real sense of camaraderie felt pretty incredible. I guess I wrote it to remove the stigma and get people talking about it – because the silence around a miscarriage is really hard, because no one really wants to talk about it. But talking is good! And once you share something, it feels like such a relief to have it out in the open – you can get on with the grieving instead of shrouding it away.

 You’ve had a couple of experiences of being trolled online. Can you tell us about that, and how you handled it? 

Oh. Em. GEEEEEE! One experience that stands out is when I posted the picture of the beautiful nude yogi mama with the baby that had just crawled up in the backyard, and latched on for breastfeeding. I LOVE THAT PHOTO so much. It’s natural, relaxed, funny, and it makes me happy.

Apparently a few people around the world don’t feel the same. Including Mark Zuckerberg. It caused a riot on my PMM Facebook page – and garnered interest for all the wrong reasons. That night was HORRIBLE! And it taught me that there are a lot of people out there that are completely unreasonable and to be honest – bonkers. That thread of comments went on and on and on, I stayed up half the night in dismay while I got abused and called – in no particular order: Feminist (yeah, wow, that hurt – said no one ever), Paedophile, Nazi, Hippy,  and threatened to take me to the AFP. Puh-lease. The image got hauled off Facebook, and I got a rap over the knuckles for posting it from Facebook.

Who knew feeding a baby could be so outrageous to people? And who knew what other people do in their backyards was so relevant to strangers? I am a passionate breastfeeder, and this period of my life was pretty disturbing. But as Yaz said, the only way is up, and you can’t please all of the punters.

Another post that surprised me was when I wrote about drinking less alcohol and I talked about how our society was really geared towards a drinking culture, about how alcohol was in our landscape – advertising, socially, Instagram – hey it’s G&T o’clock! I wrote that post about me – and about how my stressful days at work had sent me to drink too much – and my epiphany that it wasn’t a solution. Apparently people don’t want other people not to drink and I got a few hate mails for that. But you know what, clearly I scratched a sore that they didn’t want to itch. Or whatever that saying is.

I don’t know if I deal with these things very well. I am a really sensitive, emotional person – and tend to take things to heart. I know that’s crazy, but it makes me a bit sad. However I go away and digest what they’ve said and gold pan the crap out. Controversially, I moderated the Facebook thread. Legally you’re responsible for your own page, and if it’s legally questionable, defamatory or threatening, delete it – and make no apologies for that.

 Currently, you’re wearing a different dress every day to raise money for ovarian cancer. Why’s that? And are you running out of dresses?

I am certainly not even close to running out of dresses. Oops! I collect vintage dresses, and maybe some new ones too, so I’ve got ample crammed in my wardrobe, and on the floordrobe too, much to my husband’s dismay.

I was thinking about what made me want to do Frocktober just the other day. When I was 22 or so I discovered I had CIN2 after having an abnormal pap smear. For anyone that doesn’t know – CIN2 is pre-cancerous cells. 

 It was pretty traumatic, I’d just broken up with my long-time boyfriend, and was delivered this news by a gyno that was cold as a speculum, then had to get those cells burnt out. If you’ve never had a syringe jammed up your yahtzee, and delivered a needle right up – oh yeah – ouch – there then you are a lucky woman. 

 So while it’s not ovarian – it’s in the same department. And ovarian cancer can’t be detected by a pap smear, so wouldn’t it be jolly good to help fund an early detection test so we can look after all our ladies? So that’s why I do Frocktober, to protect our ovaries. You can read more about ovarian cancer here (and please do).

 The day you went to work in your office dressed as Frida Kahlo, with a delicate, realistic monobrow and moustache, I feel in love with you a little bit more than I already was. And I wasn’t alone. Were you surprised at how popular your Frida Kahlo look was? Why do you think women everywhere went so crazy for that costume?

 YES! I came home that night after being Frida all day at work and said to Matt (my husband) – I don’t get it, I didn’t even really do ANYTHING and people loved it. You, me and everyone we know loves Frida – what an incredible woman, she did great things. Me? I just dressed up as her and felt the love.

I don’t know. If you know the answer please let me know. I can’t fathom it.

I think it was the combination of gorgeous sophisticat and ‘unsightly’ facial hair, Lex. You embraced that moustache so fantastically that every grooming-weary woman out there had a fist-pumping explosion of joy. Plus, it’s just delightful to watch you raise money while amusing your friends. How can we sponsor you? 

Sponsor me with some dollars that are rattling around in the bottom of your handbag. $5 would be AMAZING! You can go here if you are so inclined.  But you know what would be really great at the moment? There are so many people battling fires, who have lost their homes,  and they really need our help too. It’s a tough one, but if you can give them some cash, please do. I really feel for them right now and wish I could do more. Please if you can, throw them some dollars (I know Woolworths and Target and Freedom are collecting loose change – and every bit makes a big difference).
But back to Frocktober – I have been totally wracking my brain. I thought Xanadu, but I think she’s wearing hotpants, and well that’s not a frock. So I’m thinking 50s housewife, Betty Draper style. If you’ve got any inspiration, please help me!
Personally I would love to see you go forties, Lexi, then emo, and then futuristic sexpot Barbarella. Thanks for sharing!
Follow Lexi’s blog here, her Facebook here, and her Twitter here.
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