Interview with Irish activist Sinead Burke


For a recent college assignment, I interviewed a fellow blogger and fashion-lover Sinead Burke AKA Minnie Melange 

At just 29 years old Sinead has achieved more than most of us can dream of.

Since I conducted this interview back in 2015, Sinead has given a viral TED talk ‘Why design should include everyone’, been featured on the cover of Business of Fashion magazine, met Kim Kardashian, Kris Jenner and Victoria Beckham, attended the Met Gala, been dressed by the world’s top designers and so much more.

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Seeing @prada’s collection in February in Milan, it was dotted with references of Frankenstein and veiled with black lace but Mrs Prada’s Resort collection took a different turn; beautiful tailored coats fit for Presidents’ state visits, floral embroidery and a gorgeous pastel blue trouser suit that’s waist was almost magically cinched. Plus, the decor looked as though you were sitting in @the.wing. Thank you, Verde, Antonella, Carmine and all at Prada for the invitation! . However, one of my favourite moments of the show came afterwards. Earlier this week, I saw the American architect Elizabeth Diller speak on her collaboration with Prada – for #PradaInvites, she fashioned a suit carry bag into a caped dress. Liz is responsible for the design of the High Line and most recently, The Shed. We spoke about accessibility as a starting point, rather than it merely being a legal responsibility. How do we make accessibility beautiful, empowering and not something we disregard because a building is ‘listed’ or it’s just a little too difficult. I’m not sure if Liz knows, but I have some ideas… . . [Image description: Standing in front of the Prada Resort logo, I’m wearing the most beautiful black a-line dress with a high, round-neckline, decorated with a bow. The skirt is beautifully tie-dyed in colours of marigold and a vibrant orange, accessorised with a delicious black leather bucket bag. In the second photo, I’m sat with Ricardo Scofidio and Elizabeth Diller.]

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She is an award-winning blogger, blogging on fashion, lifestyle and popular culture as well as a qualified teacher, activist, writer and broadcaster.

Sinead’s site Minnie Melange has won awards and she has been featured prominently in the media.

She holds a degree in Education, a Masters in Broadcasting and currently studying for a PhD in Education. Sinead was named as one of Image magazine’s top 40 women under 40 and was also crowned Alternative Miss Ireland 2015.

Among the thousands of bloggers in Ireland, Sinead is one of the most successful. She has over seven thousand followers on Twitter, has interviewed the likes of Saoirse Ronan, Paloma Faith and Stephanie Roche. Her face lights up when talking about her blogging work.

SB: “Being a blogger in Ireland is amazing. There are so many wonderful opportunities to meet incredible people, work with brands, go to events, to get a sneak preview of new products coming out. Yeah, I’m kinda one of the luckiest people in the country I think!”

“There’s a huge blogging community here, I don’t think I realised until recently how big the community is. There are fashion bloggers, food bloggers, mummy bloggers, so many different types. So many people have been helped, supported, got new information from blogging and I think it can only continue to grow it’s very exciting.”

EH: ” As a little person, when you see little people portrayed in the media and different movies, The Wizard of Oz, The Hobbit, Jackass, Austin Powers, how do you feel about these portrayals?”

SB: ” I think representation is so important for minority voices in the media. Sometimes when you see little people in something like Jackass as you mentioned there, it can be a little hurtful because you can see people being the butt of the joke. But that is not the responsibility of the little person themselves. If people want to be actors that is their right and I fully support other little people who want to do those roles.

“I think we need to have a conversation with Hollywood, we to have a conversation with scriptwriters, with directors, not just about little people but women in these roles, about people of minority voices.”

EH: “You’ve called being a little person both a gift and a challenge. Can you give me an example of how it’s a gift and a challenge for you?”

SB: “Absolutely. So my biggest challenge is that I’ve grown up and I live in a world that was predominantly built for you and those of average height. And if you can imagine for 10 seconds what your life would be like if you had to live in a world built for me. If you had difficulties sitting on chairs, you would probably not be able to reach light switches, you would have a lot of back pain, but you would find ways to manage.

“And then societal challenges, how people react to me, what they think of me, what they presume I can and can’t do, it’s difficult. But often when you have a conversation with these people, their assumptions are kind of put in place.”

“And in terms of it being a gift, I suppose my ideas, my ways that I live my life have been shaped and challenged by my size and I think it’s given me more empathy.”

EH: “At the moment you’re completing your PhD researching into the voice of the pupil in disadvantaged schools. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?”

SB: “ Sure, I was a teacher in lots of different types of schools and I loved it. But  I noticed that often children don’t have a say about matters which affect them in school. We expect them to read and write and do as they’re told.

It’s really interesting once you give children an opportunity to have a say about matters which affect them in schools, they come up with ideas and ways to make school and learning better for them. It’s really exciting and empowering to be a part of that.”

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Last night in Edinburgh, the @nationalmuseumsscotland opened their new exhibition, ‘Body Beautiful: Diversity on the Catwalk’. I’m very honoured to have two pieces from my wardrobe featured in the exhibition, but even more importantly, it was a platform for us to make history. I cannot thank @georgina_ripley_curator enough for her extraordinary vision and kindness. . . Over the past five months, I’ve been jaunting back and forth to London to have my body cast by @proportionldn to create the world’s first mannequin with dwarfism. The future possibilities are almost endless: Museums, retail spaces, a lamp for my home… it’s a disruption to the fashion system but there’s so much more to do. . . Body Beautiful opens in Edinburgh today and will be here until October. It’ll then tour the world! Best of all though, it’s free and there are specific tours and arrangements for the deaf community and those who are visually impaired. For little people, the exhibition is populated with footstools incase you need to rest or get closer to something! . [Image description: Standing in the halls of the National Museums of Scotland, there are two images. In the first, I’m twirling in front of my mannequin – both of us wearing beautiful, bespoke dresses by @christopherkane. (Christopher, thank you for everything.) In the first image, the lace skirt is extended and the photographer caught me in the middle of laughing manically. In the second image, I’m leaning on the shoulder of my mannequin, looking far cooler than I feel.] 📷 Neil Hanna for #BodyBeautifulExhibition

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Sinead is softly spoken yet enunciates every word. I can imagine her sitting comfortably behind a radio mic or explaining something to Junior Infants. Will she choose between broadcasting or teaching in the future?

SB: “ I think it’s really exciting to be a millennial in this day and age. You can be lots of different things. With the broadcasting, I love telling stories and I love being a facilitator for someone else’s stories.  But yeah if there’s an opportunity to host the Late Late and be a teacher or be involved in lecturing I wouldn’t say no.”

As we finish chatting I tell Sinead I’m off to my part-time job in a clothes shop. On hearing where I work,  Sinead can immediately name the founder of the company and tell me how much he is worth. Now that’s what you call doing your homework.

Hope you all enjoyed this interview and thanks for reading. Don’t forget to check out my InstagramTwitter and Facebook page.




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