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Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark: Women of Inspiration

I discovered the podcast My Favorite Murder one month before I turned sixteen, and it changed my life. Hosts Karen and Georgia created a community for true crime nerds or murderinos, and they helped me see that my lonely little world didn’t have to be so lonely. Karen and Georgia helped me come to understand both feminism, advocacy, and the importance of self preservation. Over the past four years, these two inspiring women have taught me, reassured me, and made me laugh. Here are just a few inspiring character-defining aspects of Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark.

Original Illustration by Gina Escandon for Her Campus Media

Karen Kilgariff

Karen is one of the most relatable people on the planet. She shamelessly (in the best way) drudges up embarrassing teenage blunders, regrettable fashion choices, bad hair flashbacks, and her own experience with micro-plucking her eyebrows in the 90’s. She has her own share of sketchy interactions and maybe near-death experiences that came with being a teen in the ever-sketchy 80’s and 90’s. She holds nothing back, and she never claims to be perfect–which is exactly why she is. 

Karen is also very open with her past alcoholism and substance abuse. She shares nightmare stories to serve as cautionary tales. Substance abuse and alcoholism aren’t easy obstacles to conquer. To say her sobriety and dedication is an achievement, is a vast understatement. Karen also is open about her grief. Karen lost her mother, Pat Kilgariff, years ago. She is the first to admit that grief doesn’t go away but comes and goes forever. She talks candidly about her grief and how it’s okay to not be okay. As someone who has also lost a parent, her experience and perseverance are inspiring– grief is not an easy feat to come to terms with.

Karen is an admitted college drop out, and self-made woman. She’s a writer, musician, comedian, actress, and podcaster. She was the head writer on the Ellen Show, she’s appeared as a guest on Conan, and she’s played characters on television. She defied odds and expectations and overcame great adversity to make a name for herself–and we are thankful. Karen uses her influence and platform to be an advocate and ally–all whilst giving us the most hilarious tweets and sound clips.

Georgia Hardstark

Georgia is nonchalant about her past experiences with various drugs as a teen, and run-ins with sketchy characters. During an episode, Georgia looks back on a time she let a random guy claiming to be a photographer take her to a second location to take headshots — because it was the 90’s. She survived, but reminisces how she easily could’ve become one of the victims they talk about on the podcast. She’s perfectly candid about these less-than-favorable life decisions and makes a listener feel comfortable. 

Georgia didn’t attend college, but rather has a large repertoire of other life learning experiences. She’s worked various jobs and has really had her fill of life and the chaos that comes with it.

At one time, people might’ve looked at Georgia and the expected trajectory of her life with the drugs and lack of therapy and thought her prospects weren’t promising. They couldn’t have been more wrong. Georgia overcame bad decisions, bad relationships, and just plain trauma to make a life for herself. She’s made a name for herself as a beloved television host and host of one of the most popular true crime podcasts in the game. 

My Favorite Murder: A Platform for Inspiration

As a young woman, I often feel paranoid or scared doing the most mundane things; I’ve also had uncomfortable or sketchy run-ins with men where, at times, I did feel threatened. However, I’ve always been told that I am dramatic, exaggerating, or irrational. I often find myself with my keys clutched in a tight fist and a nervous giggle in the back of my throat. For women, I think this is a common practice because we are told that we’re paranoid and irrational for having such thoughts. However, through My Favorite Murder, Karen and Georgia have created awareness for personal safety. The messages they preach include “f**k politeness”, “stay out of the forest”, “you’re in a cult, call your dad”, and “pepper spray first, ask questions later”. They bring attention to the daily struggles and fears that women suffer through everyday and give credit to that feeling of apprehension and paranoia because the world is scary, and predators often do wear blue jeans– they are average people. Karen and Georgia tell us to trust our instincts and survive. 

Karen and Georgia have also done a lot of work as advocates. They advocate for victims of sexual assault and have made efforts to inform their audience about consent, sexual assault, and mental health. They stress the importance of believing and protecting victims. They also raise awareness over the huge backlog of untested rape kits around the country. Karen and Georgia donate to several important causes such as End the Backlog. They also preach the importance of mental health and therapy. Together, they actively advocate the importance of ending the stigma around mental health.

Karen and Georgia are self-acclaimed actively-learning feminists. They are always open to critical feedback and are open to learning. Throughout the lifespan of My Favorite Murder, they continue to grow. They acknowledge political correctness, and make a conscious effort to better themselves to be an ally to all communities. One of the most inspirational aspects of Karen and Georgia is that they want to consistently keep growing, and they want to be better people. 

At the end of the day, Karen and Georgia are inspiring because they are good, and they are honest. They make us laugh with their jokes and Karen’s southern belle impression, but they also bring us closer together by breaking down barriers and uniting us through the things we care about. They have overcome a lot, and they have made themselves happy. They make me want to be a happier and better person for myself and for others.

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Malte Wingen on Unsplash

Karen and Georgia: Inspirational Quotes 

Quotes credited to Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide

“feminism wasn’t a bad word; it was a vital pursuit and would be until girls were raised to believe in themselves and the importance of their contribution to the world the same way boys were” ― Karen Kilgariff

“She taught us that the sad truth is, you can’t stay out of the forest because the world is a forest. And it’s filled with predators. If someone is assaulted, it wasn’t because they were careless, irresponsible, or dressed wrong.” ― Karen Kilgariff

“We barely get any time on this planet. Do not spend it pleasing other people. Fuck politeness. Live life exactly how you want to live it so you can love the life you make for yourself.” ― Karen Kilgariff

“Don’t be a dick and do good things.” ― Georgia Hardstark

“I know now that no matter how far into something you are, how many times you’ve agreed and moved forward, you can always decide to turn back. It’s often not easy or comfortable, but you get to choose.” ― Georgia HardstarK

Sarina Garnica

U Wyoming '22

Sarina is a first generation college student at the University of Wyoming. She is a criminal justice major with a strong interest in the law. She comes from a small town from Wyoming and is the middle child of eight children. She is romantic, imaginative, and determined. She also is a true crime enthusiast. She loves podcasts, books, and watching anything with subtitles. Her goal for the future is to attend law school and make great contributions to society with her work.
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