Pettifleur Berenger is a surprisingly witty soul. She can snap her fingers and pout like a pro, but beneath the self-proclaimed “fierce” exterior are glimpses of a mischievous character with a contagious giggle. But I guess a good sense of humour and tolerance of the absurd come as prerequisites for those willing to catapult themselves into The Real Housewives world. Titled Switch the Bitch, Berenger’s debut ‘self help’ novel might just show this seasons ladies how to successfully and sexily “handle the Housewife heat.”
Stepping through the door of her inner city penthouse, Berenger is swift to present me with a copy of her book. The cover is a soft green, which I find surprising after reading numerous online blurbs describing the Melbournian property developer as ‘feisty’.
“I chose this colour because it’s the colour of hope,” Berenger explains. Basing each chapter of Switch the Bitch on various kinds of “bitch behaviour” (yes, there is more than one variation), Berenger hopes her book will elicit its readers to realise and “switch” the inner bitch behaviour for inner happiness, whether it be marriage or career related.
Each of the short and punchy segments is based on women Berenger has encountered throughout her life; personalities she’s “been privileged to meet and learn from”.
With chapters titled ‘The Jealous Bitch’ and ‘The Nagging Bitch’, I can’t help but wonder what type of personalities Berenger has stumbled across during her time. I ask if the subjects (names and professions altered, of course) know they have inspired her writing.
“I haven’t exactly told them,” she admits. “But they’ll realise as soon as they read the book.”
Within the space of a few sentences, Berenger describes Switch the Bitch as both “the softest, most gentle approach to life” and “hard and straightforward, like throwing a cold bucket of water in your face”.
“It’s about taking control, taking responsibility for your actions,” she says. “I’ve seen so many women allow themselves to be unhappy. Don’t do that bitches,” she concludes, with another sassy click.
“We spend so much energy being unhappy. My book is about realising and rejecting the bitch within, and converting that ugly, unhappy energy into positive energy spent on yourself.”
Experiencing a period of unhappiness before turning her own perspective around, Berenger wishes to share her “formula” for happiness with women in similar predicaments.
“I had to ask myself, how can I make myself happy? The answer was simple. I needed to switch the bitch.”
Sassy, career driven and evidently exultant, Berenger is a strong willed woman steering and starring in her very own success story. At the age of 12, she told her sister that when she got her first job, she would buy a whole block of cheese and eat it all herself. The cheese soon became a car, and her first apartment not long after that.
Her first job interview was at an accounting firm.
“The lady waiting for an interview next to me had an accounting degree,” she says. “I was like… Gosh, what am I doing here? I thought about walking out. But I picked myself up, carried myself confidently into the interview and got the job straight away.”
“This was the first time I realised I could achieve anything I set my mind to,” she concludes.
Maybe then, her words are worth listening to. Maybe, if like Berenger, we ditch the bitch and replace haste with happiness, the penthouse apartment and reality TV contract will be within closer reach.
Another admirable fact about Berenger’s book is that while it focuses on empowering the female, it defies a common trait of feminist writing by not belittling the male.
“It’s not about what he’s doing,” she states, “It’s about the way you deal with what he’s doing. You won’t win through hatred, you’ll win through happiness.”
Setting the scene for a second season episode, the launch of Switch the Bitch has coincided snugly with Berenger’s impending public profile. And while the title of Berenger’s book appears akin to American reality TV star Omarosa’s self help novel, The Bitch Switch, Berenger insists her stories are authentic, and focus more on switching the bitch “behaviour” for good, rather than, as Omarosa suggests, turning the Bitch on and off.
Admittedly, she’s read “very few” self-help titles, but Berenger’s self published message rings clear. If her vivacious aura is anything to go by, there must be some method to this housewife’s madness. Take her personal mantra for example:
“Bitch, when you’re happy, you’re sexy!”
Switch the Bitch will be launched on The Real Housewives of Melbourne, Sunday April 26 at 8:30pm, on Arena TV.
Article: Amy Campbell / melbartsfash.com