Media phenomenon Rosie Waterland is best-known for her laugh-out-loud funny recaps of TV’s The Bachelor series, written for women’s lifestyle site Mamamia. But, at just 28, her memoir, The Anti Cool Girl, reveals a deeply harrowing past.
At the centre of her story is her drug and alcohol addicted parents, and her mother in particular, as she explained in her session, Being Rosie Waterland, at Pier 2/3 on Saturday. But she’s careful to not paint her mother as a villain. When describing their complex relationship and her abusive and neglected childhood, she chose to include stories that were sympathetic to the mental illness they battled.
But her sense of humour and ability to laugh at herself makes reading about her childhood all the more shocking. To lighten the emotional load, Rosie deliberately included a number of poo-based anecdotes.
“I just had a lot of stories about poo,” she said. “As a kid I used to shit myself all the time. It was a weird quirk maybe? And I’ve done it a couple of times as an adult so I thought, that’s really poignant bookends for my stories.”
With her next breath, she jokes about the absurdity of Neapolitan flavoured ice cream. “I’m sorry, but why does Neapolitan ice cream even exist? If I could find one person who eats the strawberry part and leaves the vanilla and chocolate parts, then I can guarantee you I’ve found the person responsible for any unsolved murders in your town.”
Since Rosie has loved watching television from a very early age – she recalls how the glow of her bedroom TV set lured her back to safe escapism on particularly rough nights – it’s fitting that she first shot to fame in 2013 for her viral recaps of The Bachelor.
Appealing to a wider audience than even show itself, she has a loyal following of Bachelor fans and feminists alike. “I definitely hate-watch that show and watch it ironically,” she admits. “I do think it is an incredibly awful and icky concept but I have a lot of respect for the people who make it. At the same time, it needs to be satirised.”
Rosie began her career as a writer at Mamamia by chance. “I was depressed and holed up in my room, not sure what to do with myself, so I started a blog and started submitting pieces to the website,” she says. “They accepted and they offered me a full time job on the writing staff.”
She says she was lucky to have ended up at such a nurturing company. “If I had tried to enter the writing universe and had ended up in a company that wasn’t as nurturing, I might have just crawled back into my hole and never come back out.”
Instead, her huge social media following means that Rosie Waterland was trending number one on Twitter on the premier of last year’s Bachelor, “while The Bachelor itself was trending like seventh,” she said.
But the popularity has also brought criticism, and she has struggled to adjust to not sharing deeply personal thoughts online – she forgets she has more than 99,000 followers on Facebook alone, she says she has no concept of the numbers.
She admits that her “imposter syndrome” and low self-esteem makes her vulnerable to often virulent online chatter. In one instance, she “had the entire online writing community saying that I had insisted that I invented recaps, and that I was insisting that I owned recaps, and Rosie is an arrogant bitch.”
“I was incredibly upset,” she said. “Because of my mental health, I still sometimes get intrusive thoughts of suicidal ideation and I felt suicidal in those few days after that happened.”
Her worries were unfounded, however, because The Anti Cool Girl has held its place on bestseller lists since its release in September. It’s a very cool book.