Who and what inspired me in 2015

As a classic introvert I draw my energy from within, but I draw inspiration from the things and people I surround myself with. So, as another year comes to a close I have reflected on who and what has inspired me to express all sides of myself during 2015.

2015-12-18 16.30.39
2015: New hair, don’t care!
Here is my non-definitive 2015 inspiration list (in no particular order), which will carry me into 2016 and beyond:

Tenneil Allmark

Since moving to Melbourne, I have made a bunch of new and wonderful friends and Tenneil is one of them! I’ve added her to my inspiration list for two reasons. The first is the way in which she is adjusting to a new city (she moved from Perth a year ago) and her endeavours to find a job. Tenneil currently works part time in retail and has done a few (unpaid) internships. After one year and an incredible amount of work in applying for jobs, she is yet to find one in her field of study and passion: social media and digital marketing in the beauty and fashion industries. It blows my mind that her talent has yet to be recognised.

Speaking of her talent, the second reason why Tenneil is an inspiration is her beauty and lifestyle blog, Like Neon Love. Every time Tenneil posts something new, I immediately read it, like it and share it. I’m obsessed with everything about it – the way she writes for her audience, her exquisite photography (I can’t stop staring at her photos!), and willingness to be open to new possibilities with her blogging. The way she curates Like Neon Love inspires me to continue to improve my own writing and blog.

Follow Tenneil on: Twitter @likeneonlovex | Instagram @likeneonlove | Bloglovin’

Giselle Nguyen

I met Giselle a few weeks after arriving in Melbourne when I moved into my new place – I was taking her old room! Of all the people that have come into my Melbourne life, I am most happy Giselle has. She is my Inspiration Queen. Giselle is an amazing writer. She is an experienced journalist and has worked in the music and not-for-profit sectors. However, like Tenneil, she has worked hard this year to find a job in her field (social media and digital communications in the NFP sector) and has yet to secure one – which, also, blows my mind.

However, what inspires me most about Giselle is her brave and honest writing (everything she writes makes me cry!) and the way in which has gone about establishing her unique authorial voice. In 2014, she got published in Rookie for an article detailing her experience with vaginismus. She followed it up this year with a recount of her most recent experiences with it – a conversation changer – in an article published in Fairfax’s Daily Life (as well as an article about her experience with depression which featured as one of Daily Life’s most popular 2015 articles). In October, Giselle was a panellist at the National Young Writer’s Festival in Newcastle, where she also presented a spoken piece about writer and feminist icon Roxanne Gay. To top all of this off, she has accepted an invitation to be a summer columnist for Daily Life. And did I mention her two self-published zines (about her favourite band, The Lucksmiths and how shitty single life can be post big break-up)? Giselle’s 2015 achievements will continue to inspire me and my writing in 2016.

Follow Giselle on: Twitter @heyschoolgirl | Instagram @heyschoolgirl

Jonathan Thurston

In an effort to minimise attracting douche bros, friends have encouraged me to remove all references to rugby league on my dating profile. (Yes, I have recently re-joined). I feel weird about it because it’s such a huge part of my life – so much so that even though it’s the off-season, I can’t stop thinking about this year’s Grand Final.

The 1989 Grand Final has been considered to be the greatest of all time, until 4 October 2015 – and all due to one man, Jonathan Thurston. He didn’t, generally, have a super game (he in fact made several errors), but he rose to the occasion when it mattered – kicking a field goal in extra time to win the premiership. I’ve been watching rugby league my whole life, and I never thought I’d see a better player than Andrew Johns. WRONG!

Thurston is the 2015

  • Captain of the Premiership-winning team,
  • winner of the Rugby League World Golden Boot award (best player in the world),
  • winner of the Dally M Captain, Halfback and Player of the Year awards (equivalent of the AFL’s Brownlow and the NFL’s AP Most Valuable Player),
  • winner of the Clive Churchill Medal (Grand Final man-of-the-match),
  • winner of the Provan-Summons Medal (NRL’s People’s Choice), and
  • winner of the Rugby League Players’ Association Player of Year.

He has unequivocally proven this year to be the greatest player of all time. Jonathan Thurston is one of the reasons why I love rugby league so much, and why I am such a proud supporter of the greatest sport in the world.

2015 NRL Grand Final highlights: North Queensland Cowboys v Brisbane Broncos, final score: 17-16 (skip to 3 minutes 41 seconds where all the excitement begins!)

Follow Jonathan on: Facebook

Clementine Ford

Writer, social commentator and feminist killjoy, Clementine Ford is a modern day feminist hero. She is a passionate advocate for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, challenging the existence of rape culture, anti-slut shaming and victim blaming, free, safe and legal abortion and birth control, and smashing the patriarchy. Clementine has also actively taken steps to learn more, and share her learnings, about intersectionality in feminism and acknowledging her position as a white woman (rather than a woman of colour or transwoman).

Well-known in feminist circles, Clementine reached beyond this circle in a big way this year. She posted a Facebook status about her shift to no longer being polite about feminist conversation for the sake of including men. She simply had zero f*cks left to give about placating men’s privilege. She was banned from Facebook several times for publicly sharing private abuse she received from men (which included vile and graphic rape and death threats). The unbelievable irony in these incidents was that none of the men were banned. According to Facebook’s community standards, it was Clementine that didn’t meet them, not the men who abused her. She did experience a small win – she publicly named a man for calling her a slut on Facebook, and as a result he was sacked from his job (although she did receive a barrage of abuse for apparently ruining the man’s career). Clementine’s most prominent act was sharing a near-topless photo of herself in support of the (famous and non-famous) women who had their private nude photos hacked and publicly shared without their consent. Clementine did this in response to the victim blaming approach TV show, Sunrise took in how they reported the story.

Clementine Ford inspires me to continue learning about feminism and my place in it, and of course to maintain the rage! And I can’t wait for her first book, Fight Like a Girl, which is due for release in 2016.

Follow Clementine on: Twitter @clementine_ford |                                Instagram @clementine_ford | Facebook | Tumblr

Kim Kardashian West

I have so much love for this woman! I’ve previously written about my love for the Kardashians/Jenners and how easy it is for me as a feminist to have such admiration for them. But it was Kim that started it all. Sure, it started with a sex tape but I hardly think its relevant now – it was almost nine years ago. Since then she has built an empire and continues to have a profound impact on pop culture.

Just this year, she released her lifestyle app and emoji app (which I am obsessed with!), launched her website, released her Selfish book, reached almost 125,000,000 social media followers, and with her sisters she continues to expand their Kardashian Beauty, Kardashian Hair and Kardashian Kids lines. She also nailed her fashion choices, including her perfect Met Gala look. Kim’s burgeoning status as a fashion icon has been validated this year, with stunning covers on Brasilian, Australian and Spanish Vogue (the former two, make-up free).

I’m under no illusion about the fact that there is a lot of hate for Mrs West and her family (sure, they’re not curing cancer, but neither are most people so if you don’t like them, don’t make vile comments on their social media pages!). But, I admire that Kim completely owns who she is, knows what her strengths and faults are and is open about her success as a businesswoman, as well as her fertility and pregnancy struggles. She’s a force to be reckoned with, and much to my delight, is not going anywhere!

Follow @kimkardashian on: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Amanda Whitelaw

Amanda is the Brisbane-based artist of Hungry Designs. She creates original illustrations and wearable art inspired by popular culture and Disney characters in Day of the Dead, steampunk and gothic styles. I was first introduced to Amanda’s art when my sister bought me postcards of Ariel (The Little Mermaid) and Jasmine (Aladdin).

The postcards that started my Hungry Designs obsession!
Since then, I have expanded my postcard collection to include more Ariel, as well as Merida (Brave), Poison Ivy and Jessica Rabbit – all of whom are bad ass ladies in their own way. My postcards are pinned on a huge New York City map canvas which is positioned on the wall above my bed. I refer to this make-shift art piece as my inspiration board.

I’m obsessed with Amanda’s unique art and I’m always looking on her Etsy store and Instagram for new designs to add to my collection. While I love all her art, particularly her Disney-inspired pieces, I can’t help but concentrate my collection to the red-headed alter egos of my dreams!

Follow @hungrydesigns on: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Shop Hungry Designs on Etsy

Suffragette (film)

Suffragette tells a portion of the true story of the foot soldiers of the early 1900s feminist movement, which was led by the legendary Emmeline Pankhurst. It was at a time when women had no rights (not even to their children) and were the property of men – they were treated like animals. The centre of their campaign was votes for women, and equal pay for equal work. It defies belief that over 100 years later, we are still having the same conversations to varying degrees all over the world.

Needless to say, watching this film was an emotional experience for me – I was in tears for most it, gripping the cinema chair with absolute disbelief, and I’m pretty sure I was frothing at the mouth with rage. These courageous women physically fought and protested, were bashed and jailed, they starved themselves and were force-fed through their noses, and literally died in their campaign to have women’s voices heard and respected. I left the film questioning why a woman now, particularly a white woman, would not consider herself a feminist and why some women reject their opportunity to vote (because “it’s a waste of time” and “all politicians are the same”). To these women, I say pull your goddamn heads in, and show and act with respect for the women who gave you the rights you take for granted. While I am deeply aware we have a long way to go, and in some countries and for transwomen and WOC even further, I remain forever grateful for what the Suffragettes did for women.

Everyone needs to see this film, everyone. While the film itself is not a masterpiece, it features powerful performances, and was written and directed by women (a feat in itself). Suffragette is the film we needed this year.

source: Wikipedia
Suffragette was released in Australian theatres on Boxing Day (26 December).

New York City

In a surprise to absolutely no one, New York City is on my list. Earlier this year, I made the commitment to myself to move there sometime between February and May 2017 (pending job related factors). I decided on a date, because it’s about time I stopped trying to turn my bedroom into a NYC shrine and actually lived in the real thing. I’ve made small steps toward researching my options, and I will move this process along with gusto in the New Year.

I knew I wanted to do Travel Writing when I first enrolled in my journalism course. I left it until my last semester because I wanted to finish on a high, and put all that I had learned into the subject out of respect for the place so dear to my heart.  It turned out to be an incredible challenge, but in the best possible way. I poured everything into my travel narrative, and with the eyes, ears and expertise of my Writing Support Team (you know who you are!) I produced a piece of work that earned me a distinction, and most importantly it was something that I was proud of.

I’ve been spoiled this year by family and friends sending me links to articles and giving me gifts about New York. At my sister’s May wedding, she selected my intro song to my speech as Jay Z and Alicia Keys’s Empire State of Mind – it was one of the highlights of my year. The fact that my friends and family know that I feel so connected to New York gives me the warm-and-fuzzies. I’m excited about next year and making practical steps towards making my dream a reality.


Who and what inspired you in 2015?




2 thoughts on “Who and what inspired me in 2015

  1. Mel, I feel so honoured to be included on this list! It means so much to me to have a friend like you who’s constantly encouraging and supportive of what I do, and you’ve been such an inspiration to me this year too! In fact, all of our trivia gang has. Things like feminism, transgendered people, social equality, etc have always been things at the back of my mind, but I guess never really fully thought about until I moved to Melbourne and started learning more about these issues. I feel like you’ve all opened up my eyes to world around me, instead of just staying in my own little bubble where I only ever thought about things that affected me. It boggles my mind that people still have such archaic views of feminism (lesbians who don’t shave), but the more we talk about it, the more we can educate people.

    That’s so sweet how all your family and friends know you for your love of New York City – that’s how everyone is with me and Paris! I can’t wait to travel to the Big Apple one day and who knows, maybe we’ll get to meet up there! I’m so happy and so excited for your eventual big move!

    I’m really looking forward to seeing Suffragette. It sounds like the kind of movie that would stir up a lot of emotions in me too, but it seems like such an important film of our time that I think everyone needs to see. Also, I love Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep!


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