Melodie Michelberger is known on Instagram for three things: her striking hairstyle, her colourful sense of dressing, and the unusual interior design of her apartment. However, there's a lot more to her than that. On a tour through her home town of Hamburg, the PR expert explains why feminism needs to make a comeback and why even a superwoman like her is sometimes late.
Melanie Jeske, also known as Melodie Michelberger, is a true woman of strength. The Hamburg native heads her own agency, MICHELBERGER PR, which is all about exciting fashion labels from Germany. In her spare time, she’s also an amazing mom and Instagram influencer. For some time now, Melodie has made the cause of women’s rights her own — a passion she has channelled into the website Trust the Girls, launched in September 2016.
On Instagram, you are known as Melodie Michelberger. How did you comer by this name and what is behind the pseudonym?
When I spent a year abroad in the USA, they gave me the name Melodie. Later, I used it for my social media profiles. I never really identified with the name Melanie anyway. The name Michelberger is derived from the place where I live: in Hamburg next to Michel church on a hill (and the German word for hill is Berg). It has now become my stage name, if you will.
What does the overall concept of Melodie Michelberger involve? Do you even see yourself that way?
I don't see myself as an overall concept, no. I'm just myself. But I would hope that people know me best for my commitment to helping women. It's something I put a lot of work into alongside my job and my role as a mother. If I can use that commitment to inspire people, especially women, then that's great.
You have worked as a journalist and an editor, you're a freelance PR consultant and a mother. How do you stay on top of everything? Is there any time left for yourself?
It's a balancing act, and I'm not sure I always get the right balance. I'm often late and sometimes feel that I'm in the wrong place at the wrong time. But I'm working on it. I find it difficult to keep my career and private life separate from one another. When I have 'Trust the Girls' meetings with my colleague Eva, and we talk about articles or organise events, I do that in my spare time. I would like that to change so that I have at least one thing that is pure recreation, such as yoga.
Combining a job with a family is still not an automatism, especially for women. Where do you think there is room for improvement?
Germany is still quite conservative. Marriages receive tax benefits, while single parents are taxed at full rate. The recognition of single parents should be greater in society as a whole. Many mothers feel that they are taken less seriously despite being looked at more critically. That means that they have to put in twice the effort at work, never report sick, and always arrive at the office on time or even before their starting time. That was what I found really tough.
You have been working on 'Trust the Girls' for a while now. In 2016, you and some friends founded an online magazine of the same name. What is the idea behind it and which issues are particularly important to you?
I rediscovered the hashtag about three years ago. When I realised that other women were also concluding their posts with #trustthegirls, I felt the need to create something more out of that. I met Eva on Instagram. Together, we founded the site 'Trust the Girls' in 2016 to provide a platform for feminist subjects. At the launch, we organised a discussion event and had around 500 people in attendance – far more than the 80 we had hoped for. Discrimination and sexism in daily life manifest themselves in different ways, and every woman experiences them differently. We want to give a voice to all those who can't go out and demonstrate on the streets.
Is feminism celebrating a comeback at the moment?
Feminism has definitively come back to life. All over the world, women are demonstrating to express solidarity and support for one another. On the other hand, more and more commercial brands are now discovering feminism. That's something I find troubling, in principle. When young girls buy a t-shirt with the caption 'I’m a Feminist', it can work as a kind of door opener. However, if these t-shirts retail for just three euros, how are the seamstresses supposed to support their families? I hope that women will see through that. The question remains as to how political content can be transported using commercial girl power. I'm looking forward to seeing how that plays out.
What do you think about Mercedes-Benz specifically targeting women with She's Mercedes? Why are initiatives like this important?
Cars are seen as the prerogative of men. Many female drivers still elicit a smile when they open the bonnet themselves to refill something or when they explain to a technician what is broken. That's why it's great that Mercedes-Benz is taking a stance and helping to give women a feeling of belonging.
In Hamburg, we drove around with a B 250 e. Is that the future of mobility?
It's a complex subject, and some of the issues involved are still unresolved, of course. The life expectancy of the batteries needs to be improved, and if one plug doesn't connect with another, that's annoying. While we exploit natural reserves more and more extensively, the fight over market rights simmers on. It's almost petty and short-sighted. In theory, we have enough renewable energies. Children grow up knowing this and often can't understand why we as adults think in such retrogressive ways. But, thankfully, things are starting to move now – also at Mercedes-Benz. And it pleases me immensely!
Mercedes-Benz B 250 e: Combined CO2 emissions: 0 g/km; power consumption weighted: 17.9–16.6 kWh/100 km.*
* The figures are provided in accordance with the German regulation 'PKW-EnVKV' and apply to the German market only. Further information on official fuel consumption figures and the official specific CO₂ emissions of new passenger cars can be found in the EU guide 'Information on the fuel consumption, CO₂ emissions and energy consumption of new cars', which is available free of charge at all sales dealerships, from DAT Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH and at www.dat.de.