We all have that one mate who tells it to us straight - whether we have spinach in our teeth or have done something shitty. Kate Fenton is that mate. Unapologetically and compassionately she is changing the perception that wom*n have to be poised and perfect on social media. Hear her chat about everything from her experience with abortion, her project known as The Lunatique and the importance of honesty on Instagram.
CW: Abortion, mental health, mention of suicide
You started The Lunatique in March and described it as "a refuge for women worldwide to "confide" and "find peace". Where did that urge come from to create a space like that?
I had a pretty traumatic start to the year, enduring two abortions due to suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum which is basically really severe morning sickness. I couldn't leave my bed for 4 weeks. I got down to 48kgs and was nursing a pretty gnarly sinus infection too. My depression got the better of me and due to the pain I was in, all I could think of was how I could end it. It got to the point where I had to make the decision to save my own life by sacrificing another. After that heart wrenching decision, I never in a million years thought I would have to do it again two months later. It's not rare to fall pregnant straight after an abortion either... I fell pregnant again the first time we were able to have sex. Super fertile with a sprinkle of stupidity.
Throughout that whole experience, even with my solid support system of friends and family, I still found myself feeling alone. It got me thinking and I couldn't imagine how different the experience and outcome would've been if I had no support system and I realised I had to build this for other women who aren't so lucky to have that support from friends and family.
The night after my first abortion, I had a vivid dream where I was sitting in a cafe looking at my website The Lunatique in big letters on the top and as I scrolled down there was stories from women all over the world about their experiences in life. The next day, I got to work and created my business. Always believe in the power of dreams babes.
How do you think social media has impacted women's self confidence/mental health/body positivity etc.? Positively or negatively?
I actually think both. We are experiencing a shift in the feminine energy at the moment, and this shift started a few years ago, but due to social media and outspoken women like myself, this shift is gaining a lot of momentum. We are starting to notice big changes within the workplace, court of law, every day life and social media.
It's funny when you look at social media and it’s relationship to womens self confidence and mental health. When Instagram was born, we noticed a huge rise in cosmetic and plastic surgery. Australia has overtaken America with over one billion dollars worth of procedures done last year. That's fucking mental. Excuse my French, but what hope does the younger generation have with their self confidence and mental health when their phone screens are over saturated with these "perfectly made" women who are claiming to be "all natural". I'm sorry but it's bullshit and I really hope these “influencers” come to the realisation that they are causing more damage to society and the world than good.
In saying that, myself and many other women who are trying to get our positive messages across probably couldn't do it without social media. It's about being aware of the content that fills your feed and understanding what is real and was is fake.
Social media is great in small doses and if used correctly.
You have quite a large following on social media yourself. Have you ever felt negatively impacted by that?
Oh girl... All the time! I'm not a huge fan of Instagram but I'm grossly addicted. Instagram has played massive part in the demise of my self confidence, self worth, my carefree personality, my strong mental health and my freedom.
I feel like I have an obligation to my followers now and I've never felt such a big responsibility to create cool content or "be seen". I'm realising that the more I use my "fuck it" attitude and post whatever I want to post, I feel less trapped by social media and it's tethers.
Do you think there's a solution to the issues that arise with social media?
Yes but it's completely up the consumer. It's up to us.
We have to become aware of the damage it is causing to ourselves, society and the world. Once you've become conscious of that, it's aligning with your own values and beliefs and making sure each and every one of the persons/ businesses you are following are about those things too. So for example, if you are a vegan, earth loving and saving activist then why follow these businesses that sell leather or fast fashion? It's a contradiction of yourself and your values.
Let me ask you a question..
When you look at your feed, do you feel good about yourself? If so, perfect… You're one step ahead.
If not, why do follow these accounts then? Why follow someone that makes you feel crappy about your life?
You are the only person who has the power to change your mindset and your life, so do it - one unfollow at a time!
Slowly, social media will become more of a positive place for you, you will only see the things you are interested in and you will see a change within yourself. Try it.
The Lunatique covers pretty intimate topics. Do you ever struggle with being so honest on social media?
Nope. I love it. I love making people realise you shouldn't feel uncomfortable in your body. Your body should be like your favourite sweater or that one spot on the couch that has your bum indented into the cushions.
I still have my off days and I've also noticed that people can't handle the truth about women. They don't want to know about your menstrual cycle or your morning coffee poo. I've had men and women send me such nasty messages on Instagram telling me how gross I am and I should go bury myself alive etc.
I have one reply... “Love you too!”
I've finally found my mantra in life: Be real. Be true. Be you.
Why is it so important to be honest on social media?
Because it's filled with SO much shit. It's hard to decipher who is being real and who is just plain arrogant. Sometimes I'm both but I'm not apologising for it. Get over it. If it "offends" you, that's your problem. You have chosen to feel that emotion towards something real and honest... People really hate this.
People need a voice of reason and also someone that is brutally honest. I'm that one friend that will tell you you've stepped out of line or you have spinach in your teeth and I'm that person to strangers too.
I'm not going to lie to everyone and say I'm happy all the time cause I'd be lying to myself too. What is the point in lying? You have to have such a good memory to keep it up and I just can't be bothered wasting my energy on that shit.
Be honest and see how your life changes.
Remember this though. Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
What is your aim with The Lunatique? Do you have any long term goals with the project?
It changes most days really, as i evolve daily. My main aim is to get #GURLSPACE workshops up and running so we can have a space for women to come and hang out, learn, chat and make new friends.
I want to change the stigma behind mental health issues, abortions and these issues women experience in life and make them a topic of conversation for everyone. They don't have to be taboo anymore, they shouldn't be taboo anymore..