Monday, 10 April 2017

The reason I don’t conform to the ‘Mum Image’ 



So first off I should warn you that this is probably going to be a bit of a self-indulgent post but this is a topic which I have thought about for a while and felt that it’s one which I would like to address. I don’t conform to being a Mum in my mid to late thirties; there I said it. Now I don’t know exactly what these standards of conformity are but all I know is that I don’t fit them and I shall tell you why! The answer is because I am not your typical Mum, that is that I am a ‘single’ Mum, now this is a bit of a gamechanger.

Being a single Mum you are not given a rulebook, the role itself does not come with a guide at all, it’s like we are literally making it up as we go along and that can be interesting but also slightly daunting. In a society where women face a backlash for first of all being a single parent and then for going against the grain in any way, the grain it appears is being in a family with 2.1 children or whatever it is these days, the biggest sky package, to have decking  and a hot tub in your back garden and to surround yourself with the biggest load of consumer crap a lot of which you don’t really need, to project an image  (especially through social media) of being like the Walton’s when actually many families have their moments when they are more like The Manson’s, that is not us and it isn’t me.

As I previously mentioned on here I left a relationship that didn’t work out (understatement he was abusive) and I had prior to this been in a relationship with someone which I was not happy in  (so that’s two relationships that did not work out)  I am someone who has had to effectively go from where I was and put the pieces of my life back together and start steering it in (hopefully) the right direction (trust me I could not have gone backwards). So, the normal Mum ‘image criteria’ I feel just does not fit me.

'Worst Nightmare!!'

 Anyhow, let’s look at what this ‘Mum’ image is that I mention. What is it exactly?? That one’s confusing, but to me, once women get into their thirties and fourties it seems to consist of wearing a lot of tan and beige, a lot of boho stuff (great way to go in your fifties to seventies but, surely we are allowed to wear something other than prints) and (to a large extent) for some ladies I find appearing downtrodden. Now let’s just take money out of the equation for a moment and see what I mean. I honestly feel no matter what a person’s budget we are all able to make decisions on how to present ourselves to the world. Now let me explain that I am not judging any lady in her choice of attire here, if that’s what you feel comfortable in that is entirely up to you. I understand the merits of wearing tan, mustard, burgundy and turquoise when establishing a school playground hierarchy and going to parents evening. I have also considered stashing away an oilcloth Cath Kidston, Radley or Orla Kiely bag to drag out to go alongside aforementioned ensemble to wear to meet new teachers (in order that I won’t have to be judged as a scumbag the second I meet and greet a new person involved in my child’s education) and adopting a false register to my voice. Then, when I am done with school meetings going home chucking it all off and descending back to chav status!! 😊 (South London girl here I’m a real chav I’m afraid 😉) But, the fact is I just can’t bring myself to play ‘the game’. I can’t bring myself to pretend, and why should I??

"Standard Issue"

People do say they think I look younger than I am (which is nice) I’m still a bit of a kid at heart and I enjoy playing with my image. I know that one day I am going to be older and I won’t be able to get away with all that I can now so yes, I still want to have fun. This means that I still want to look sexy or playful, to wear my Nikes and my Converse and I dare say a nice pair of heels now and then and not fit into the boho/khaki/tan parade. My attitude is very much that you only live once. Further to this is my own unique take on this as a single parent - the word ‘single’ is a big clue here. I would at some point actually like to attract somebody. Believe it or not I am not adverse to the idea of having a loving relationship and I find it highly unlikely that I am going to do that in tan brogues and with a mass of roots and an unkempt mane and an oversized wax jacket.. you get the picture. The thing is that I know and I appreciate that everybody has completely different tastes but this is my taste, personally I would never judge what other women do and don’t want to wear as I know it is entirely up to them but I do sometimes feel bad for people and I am thoroughly unable to understand how you can even hope to maintain a loving relationship and a good sex life if you make absolutely zero effort with how you dress. I mean how do the two add up?? They don’t really.

The other thing I have found is that it appears that if you are either very young or very slim or both then it is entirely acceptable to walk around in knee high boots (they must be brown mind) and skinny jeans and a fitted top but god forbid you have any curves (I feel this goes with the saying you can never be too rich or too thin and if you are both you have hit the jackpot) there seems to be something so absolutely offensive it seems about a Mum who is still fairly young (or just looks good for her age) has curves and embraces a sexy or youthful/fashionable appearance. I think that in examining this attitude we must consider whether there is something in society that makes us inherently misogynist as women towards our own sex also. Breasts are a particularly big deal. The perception can largely be (if you have big breasts you must be thick) I don’t know why as it does not mean I keep my brain in there and if I did it would be huggggge and like a double (siamese) brain. If you dress feminine, are curvy, have bleach highlights and are fashionable OMG forget about it. See the thing is this, I die my hair blonde as it is the colour I was born. Up until the age of about 11 I had white blonde hair and although now it is more of a medium blonde golden tone I enjoy mixing this up with highlights, as I know it’s a colour that suits me and how I am used to seeing myself. I have tried other colours but I know blonde suits my appearance and the tone lifts me, also I have spent such a fortune on dying it that I am hardly gonna be in a rush to throw my investment away.I actually don’t wear a huge amount of makeup as I like to be comfortable with my own face and like just a little enhancement. But, I personally think there are ladies out there who have their make up looking like it is airbrushed on (just very clever application) and look amazing, the whole mask thing is not for me but I salute their dedication and their creative expression and why not play and have fun with your image? As for being curvy there is absoluately nothing I can do about that – I am guessing this is how god intending me to be and if anyone has a problem with that well perhaps take it up with him??.



As for Selfies, well this can be a major thing, what I have found is that there seems to be a huge backlash on social media towards women taking pictures of themselves and looking good. I’m sorry but it does appear that if you are aged 30 or over society just cannot accept the idea that a woman should want to take pictures of herself, well, I have spent the last 4 years single saying bollocks to that! I have often been told that I’m pretty and I have reasonable self-esteem and body image so why the heck would I not??? It’s fun, it’s useful if you get a few that are really good and they can be used for social media or professionally to project an image and, it’s also to a large extent, the fashion. We live in a society where so much is both instant and throw away and selfies have almost become a way of keeping in with the trends. Personally, I draw the line at snapchat as it does not appeal but hey if it’s you bag!! The other point that people fail to grasp is that when it is only you then you only have yourself to please, which means sometimes you have spare time to do your make up (albeit ultra-speedy on my part) whack out your phone and take a nice pic, so why the heck shouldn’t you??

"Ché happy and healthy and not caring less if Mummy pouted on SM or not!!"

If you are alone every evening with no partner) and you spend the clear majority of your time caring for your kids) then you may want to remind yourself and possibly the world that you still look nice because after all who else is telling you this? Or you may just be proud and want to show the fuck off- whatever. The one thing I know is this. I believe wholeheartedly (and especially with having had relationships where I was badly treated) that life is for living!! I only have a limited time on this earth and I want to live it as best as I can. So, I am damned if I am not going to make an effort (more often than not) put nice things on get out in the world and generally put my best foot out there. Young women know this, they are not stupid, they know there is merit and a sense of autonomy is being able to regularly change their image and record it and they know the healthy self-esteem and good exposure this can also give them. I really think that it’s time that women who are slightly older started taking on the attitude of their younger counterparts and making an effort. Have confidence and courage and dare not to give a fuck what anyone thinks.


Now to the women out there who bitch about a Mum especially a single Mum posting another selfie on Social Media, you need to check in and have a word with yourself! What one woman does with her time is absolutely none of your business, we really are not here to make judgements over other’s lives (okay with the exception of picking up a copy of Okay Magazine but you know) or think we have the right to dictate what others do! As an adult, I take on full responsibility for how I project myself to the world. Do I make mistakes? Sure, but by and large I am happy with how I do things and if another person is happy making their adult decisions focus on you and I think this feeds right back to the topic of women tearing each other down, it’s not clever it’s just sad, seriously do you!! You’ll be happier. As a wise woman (Marianne Williamson) once said “You do not shrink for others to feel better around you” or words to that effect, well no you do not. I will honestly tell you that being myself (in the aforementioned manner) has not always been the easiest path to take, but, to me it is THE only path. I feel that in throwing off restraints and continuing to be myself and true to me I am removing a burden. 

Lastly ladies who couldn’t care less about your appearance, I hear you and that is cool also, I mean if you are genuinely that happy and don’t give a stuff well nothing wrong with that either but I strongly feel that in my experience it is true that most women do want to make a little time for themselves to take care of their appearance and just to feel nice. My only hope for other women is that they live well and feel the best they can and for many women this means looking the best they can and as someone who has both worked in Fashion Retail and trained as a Beauty Therapist I think it’s natural for me to feel this way. However, as I am not able to make you all my dolly (I love a makeover) I will just have to leave this post here to hopefully inspire you to want to look and feel your best, as we all deserve to, right? So, I will leave this post by saying that I hope that people may start to think about what it is for a woman to be by themselves and how this might affect how they want feel about their image and how they wish to project themselves. It is not just single parents, with divorces remaining steady (especially for the middle-aged) this is a topic which affects many people. Additionally, of course we have no right to dictate how married women looks also. I am firmly of the opinion that it is high time that people stop imposing their views on how others present themselves. As for me, I’m not gonna ask for anyone’s permission I’m just gonna carry on.  :p :p