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Posts Tagged ‘girls’

Geek Chic Barbie

Oh how glorious. Now Barbie has a job in IT. Apparently (warning: that site is extremely pink: you may need sunglasses) it’s the result of a vote to determine Barbie’s 125th career. The winner was ‘News Anchor Barbie’ but there was such a strong showing for ‘Computer Engineer Barbie’ that she also has her 126th job too. Aside from the fact that she looks ridiculous (and I admit an eye roll at the fact that she has to wear glasses) I don’t believe it will have any effect on young girls and their aspirations. My experience is that little ones will bend their toys to their will using nothing but their imaginations (Postman Pat goes to fairy school? No problem. Peppa Pig fights as a pirate? Of course). Probably just as well really, otherwise we might have a generation of Bratz loving girls turning to prostitution in later life.

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Beauty is as Beauty Does

I have chills up my spine when I read yet another mother-grappling-with-daughter’s-beauty envy. How sad.

My mother was a great beauty in her day — a top model, so it’s not just my biased opinion. Yet she always made me feel that my puddingy, average looks were shiningly beautiful. Actually, while making me feel like a physical goddess, she also gently inculcated in me that looking good was the least important part of being me. I felt deeply valued for being a good human being, working hard, being creative. I never for a moment got the impression she envied me the gift of youth and unblemished skin, even when she was single again in her 40s/50s. And until the day she died she revelled in my *beauty*, which, quite frankly, only a mother could have seen.

So perhaps it’s what we’ve experienced that shapes our own attitudes. I managed to produce a daughter as beautiful as my own mother, and this has only brought me joy — and, like her, I see this as an unimportant part of the whole package. My daughter has much more important and more enduring qualities than the aesthetic. I’ve never felt a twinge of envy as I’ve gazed on her, only pleasure. And also a modicum of worry on her behalf. The beautiful women I’ve known, my mother and daughter included, don’t have it easy. They attract ardent attention that is purely about how they look, and have sometimes had a harder time of it than me and other average-looking women who men want to get to know because there’s something else about us they like. They’ve suffered from men who yearn for their beauty and aren’t interested in the woman behind it.

And now she has a daughter of her own. The most beautiful baby ever to grace this earth. But if she grows up to be as puddingy as me it won’t matter. And if she grows up to be the most beautiful woman in the world I feel sure my daughter won’t feel competitive, only protective. So far her nature is beautiful — sunny, warm and people-loving. What a gift from the fairies. That should see her through to old age and wrinkles very well indeed.

It makes me think: if mothers compete with daughters over who is the fairest of them all and make clear their distress about their own failing looks, how can we expect young girls not to be victims of our looks-iist culture that values youth, beauty and sex-appeal above everything else?

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8 boys wanting a girl

Last night I watched “8 boys wanting a girl”, as a mum of 3 boys followed by a girl I thought perhaps the programme might carry thoughts I would resonate with and it did, but very few. How can any mother knowingly destroy perfectly healthy male embryos just because they aren’t female? I found this even harder to bear knowing she had four beautiful boys already, knowing that those 5 unwanted male embryos could have turned into wonderful, individual little beings – just like her sons, just like my sons, if given a chance. What is so different here to terminating a pregnancy at 12 weeks because the foetus is male? it all leaves a very sour taste in my mouth.

Then there was the mum of four boys pregnant with her fifth baby after attempting naturally. This lady I did feel empathy for. Growing up I had always presumed I would have a little girl. I am an only child and had a very close relationship with my mother, I always assumed I would have that bond with my own daughter one day, an assumption that was fuelled by the loss of my mother when I was only 21. I was and am still, very feminine and as a child adored playing with dolls – all female (my favourite I name Jennifer). Of course I would have a girl someday. I had spent years rehearsing for her arrival.

When that “someday” came I went mad and purchased a bag full of girl’s clothing, I truly hadn’t even considered the fact I might have a boy. At 20wks we asked at our ultrasound. “It’s a boy”. “”what did you say?”, I didn’t think I had heard correctly. Sure enough, there he was, my son, in all his full spread eagle turtle glory. I didn’t feel sad, more shocked – this wasn’t the plan! where was my baby Jennifer? what would I do with a BOY?! 22wks later he arrived and it was love at first sight. The only time my heart twanged for Jennifer was when the latest Mini Boden catalogue landed on my doormat. Boy’s clothing is so unattractive. I lusted after stripey tights and Mary Janes.

16 months later my second bundle arrived, another boy, just as gorgeous as the first and that’s when the comments started, mostly from friends and family with new “pigeon pair” families, they thought they were clever for having “one of each” and commented “I’ll bet you’ll go for a third, we’re stopping at two now we have the perfect family, a boy and a girl” with a gloating smile.

We did indeed try to conceive again – we always planned a large family. I have to confess to a brief dalliance with Chinese lunar calendars and reading up on the Shettles method. I spent a good proportion of my third pregnancy daydreaming of a perfect pink Cath Kidston nursery only my daydream baby turned out to have testicles, the first thing I touched after “catching” my son underwater with my own hands after the most beautiful home waterbirth. I spent the next few days on a high in babymoon bliss, head over heels in love with my new blue bundle and then the comments started in earnest, cards arrived with “better luck next time” “another boy – wow so much testosterone, poor you”. My new son received hardly any gifts, being another boy he didn’t seem worthy I guess. My elderly aunt even commented when I was pregnant “if you have a girl I’ll buy her a pretty dress”, baby boy number 3 arrived and she didn’t even send a card.

Now, for those of you reading who have less than three of the same gender you really have no idea what it is like to be on the constant receiving end of sympathy from strangers, the constant implication that your all blue team is inferior to a mixed, perfectly blended one. I defy any mother in this situation to not develop a twinge, a tug on her heartstrings when you hear of yet another “perfect pigeon pair” new baby arriving. Whilst I cannot and do not agree with PGD or the extreme feelings I saw in this documentary I will defy any of you with less than three of a kind to comment negatively having never walked in the shoes of a single gender mum. For some reason there seems to be a gulf of difference between just two of one gender and then three.

Eighteen months later we conceived our fourth child. The comments started immediately, I felt that if I did produce a fourth boy I would receive commiserations from everyone rather than congratulations. Upon learning that I was carrying a girl I decided to not share with anyone, mostly because I couldn’t handle the “well done, you must be so happy” comments I knew we would receive. Each one of those comments felt like a knock to my beautiful boys, somehow implying they weren’t good enough. I found myself fiercely protective of my boys and told the world I wanted another boy as mine were so beautiful. So when my daughter arrived – a girl after three boys, I could finally say “my daughter”. But it didn’t feel any better than saying “my son”. I much prefer to dress her in blue or yellow than pink and she hates wearing dresses. She is the biggest tomboy, loves Star Wars, Ben 10, climbing, lego, picking her nose. She is fiercely independent, will never hold my hand, doesn’t like hugs and would rather play with her brother’s action men than Barbies with me, certainly not the rose tinted mother/daughter relationship I expected or longed for when I just had boys. In years to come it is more likely to be one of my cuddly boys who takes me shopping or invites me to take a central role in their wedding preparations.

I just wish the women in the documentary could really see what they have already, how lucky they are, but maybe I am writing this with the benefit of hindsight. How must their sons feel knowing “mummy wants a girl?” or heaven forbid in years time they watch the documentary knowing they are only here because “mummy wanted one last try for a girl – I didn’t want 5 children” I wish they could give up on their dream of a girl, because that’s all it is really…..a dream…and we all know the reality is usually very different. They want the fantasy, the pink, the tutus….I don’t blame them, I did too, but that’s not the way it is and I blame society, I blame the stupid preconception held that the perfect family is “one of each”, because my perfect family is the one I have, MY children, each one of them special and unique, regardless of their x or y chromosomes. Hopefully one day the ladies on the programme will realise that too.

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