I told my husband the other day that I didn't like being called his wife. And I didn't like being called a mummy. He, understandably, looked horrified. I quickly explained that those terms make me feel claustrophobic. Saying the words out-loud made me realise how ridiculous it sounds but, even now, I know that is really how I feel. Of course I adore him and my daughter but, in my mind, there is something so final, so peripheral about being a mummy and a wife - as though your turn is over and it’s now time to put on a pinny, make sure the laundry is done and shush.
As someone who suffers from Room B Syndrome* the idea that I am now out of the picture doesn’t feel great. But I look around me and I realise that this notion is all in my head. You don’t have to go very far to see a picture of a stylish, visible, working mum to know that a ‘mother’ can look however she wants to look.
But there is a balance. On one hand I don’t want to give up my floral spandex leggings and trailer trash jewellery but on the other, I don’t want the pressure to feel I have to. I take great joy in seeing pictures of Gwen Steffani stepping out with her sons in a leather studded jacket or images of Karen Brady, recently revealed by Onken’s Real Report as being one of our top role models, concurring the world in a sexy tailored suit, but I am slightly terrified of pictures of Miranda Kerr, weeks after giving birth, modelling underwear. This is the opposite of encouraging. It takes me back to when I was 16 and I first started reading glossy magazines. And when I say reading them, I mean staring, glaring hopelessly at the pictures of skinny, perfect models and feeling like I was from a different planet. If I could tell my 16 year old self one thing I would be this: these images are heavily altered and airbrushed. If I’d known this perhaps I would have missed out on a decade of yo-yo dieting and negative body image.
It’s interesting to discover, courtesy of the Real Report published by Onken, that over 70% of women want airbrushing to be banned. I recently asked a fashion editor if they thought that would ever happen and they said no. But I disagree. I think that street-stye is coming to the rescue like a beautiful, quirky super heroine. And, joyfully, street style is so popular that is has now filtered into mainstream glossy magazines with Vogue and Grazia both jumping on the hugely popular trend. These are often the features that I see women flick to first.
Now that I’m a mum I can honestly say that my fashion has only changed in that I have less time to play with outfits. As a result, street style blogs are essential. I can see real women wearing real outfits going about their real lives in a real way: catching buses, going to meetings, sitting on grass, eating fish fingers.
I do still occasionally enjoy looking at fashion photographs of women lolling backwards on a rock in the Gobi Desert but, mostly, I want to see examples of outfits that I can really wear in the real world. There is no way that I’m going to be able to feed the ducks in the park and then leg-it to a meeting in a chiffon jumpsuit. And there is no way that I’m going to have the positive energy to be a present and caring mum and work on my career and be a fun wife after seeing depressing - airbrushed - pictures of a Model in a bandage dress three weeks after giving birth.
There is definitely still a place for arty, beautiful fashion photographs but I’m extremely careful how often I look at them. For me, now, street style images are my main fashion fix - it’s style porn without the negative aftertaste. And I think they are essential for a fashion loving mummy (see, I’m working on it!).
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