Written by Lili la Scala

In The News

The 20 signs you’re a human being

Another day, another survey to make women feel not quite good enough. Enough, already, says Lili la Scala.

Lily and Raff: a mum, in MAKEUP, no less.

Lily and Raff: a mum, in MAKEUP, no less.

Another day, another tired article from endless ‘Look how dreadful this woman looks’ shrieker The Daily Mail, written from a faux-humorous angle, implicitly designed to make women feel bad about themselves.

If it isn’t tattoos today, it’s women who dare to be single and childless (Heaven forbid! Single AND childless. By choice?). If it isn’t working mothers, it’s stay-at-home mothers. Here, it’s mothers in general and the 20 signs to help you to spot them, should they dare to leave the house.

Pieces like this positively encourage women to step down from their feminist podiums, pop on their aprons and get back in the kitchen and make those taps gleam. However, so condescending is this particular sermon, that the writer doesn’t even want their name associated.

It’s a pile of tripe from a news provider who has already this week posted a distasteful ‘mum-shaming’ article about how tired the Duchess of Cambridge looks accompanied by some helpful advice about ‘taking a break’ alongside an unflattering photo. It is desperately cruel and gleefully so.

Now, I’m not sure where the pollsters – the Red Tractor food standards scheme – found these particular 2,000 women. Maybe they lurked in the baby aisle in Tesco, waiting for an unwitting woman to stray into their path, whereupon they’d leap out from behind the Pampers 6+ nappies shrieking, “Do you like big knickers?” at the sleep-deprived soul whose answers they have correlated.

Obviously, now that these women have ejected children from their vaginas they must need enormous knickers within which to contain their gigantic labia. So should you spot a woman in the street in elephantine underwear, be not afeared. She is simply a mother, popping out to do her shopping. She’ll probably look worried because the poll has discovered that mums are panicking about what to make for supper.

In fact, I rarely waste time panicking about what to feed my child. He’ll get fed. Should I spend two hours cooking something wholesome and healthy, he’ll probably sling it at my head and ask for “Toast on beans”.

Yes, being a parent is exhausting; it comes with the territory and it’s not news to anyone who has encountered a child. You have a small human who has the whims and reckless emotional temperament of your drunk mate at 3am. You have to negotiate the rocky pitfalls of said being from 5.30am until they fall asleep at 7pm (or later), unless you can devise some devilish scheme to make them take a nap.

“Where are the articles celebrating these women who juggle so much life their arms are tired but they just have to keep juggling, even though they never knew they could juggle and didn’t even want to join the circus?”

When they are awake, you have to restrain yourself from hiding in the toilet to get some time alone and even then, the unrumpled cat is watching. I imagine anyone would forgive a parent for looking a little dishevelled.

Women, we do a bloody great job of rearing children. Chaps are pretty good too. Yes, we may sometimes look bedraggled. We are bringing up people; we are making sure they are washed and dressed and entertained so what’s a little snot between friends?

I know many mothers who not only have children but also manage to get dressed in ‘proper’ clothing, whatever ‘proper clothing’ is. I’m not sure I even own ‘proper clothing’ (I own a hundred ball gowns, does that count?). I know women who have more than one child but still manage to be working and drinking and staying up beyond 9pm.

The Duchess of Cambridge: no more or less tired than the rest of us, probably. Photo by Christopher Neve, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Duchess of Cambridge: no more or less tired than the rest of us. Photo by Christopher Neve, via Wikimedia Commons.

Where are the articles celebrating these women who juggle so much life their arms are tired but they just have to keep juggling, even though they never knew they could juggle and didn’t even want to join the circus? Instead articles like this spout utter poppycock and somewhere a woman stumbles across them, thinks forlornly “that’s me” and goes about her daily life feeling that ever so slightly more deflated.

It is not on, it is not OK. It is completely fine to look like you have been dragged through a hedge backwards. You can ‘ignore fashion’ (one usually should, I find. Fashion goes out of date so very quickly) to your heart’s content. It is not one iota of anyone else’s business how you look if you are a mum. Or if you are not a mum. Or if you never want to be a mum. This everyday, run of the mill, subtle degradation of the female psyche is so damaging, as if women weren’t already patronised, daily, in all the small ways.

We live in a society that encourages us to work and play hard and to be instantly accessible at any hour with various social media platforms. Many of us are exhausted by life, fatigued by the news and numbed by our political climate. People work jobs they dislike to pay the gym memberships they are too tired to use. Show me the 20 signs of being a mother and I shall hold up a mirror and show you a human being.


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Written by Lili la Scala

Lili la Scala sings a bit, writes a bit and spends more time than is probably necessary discussing the toilet habits of her son. Bona fide vintage addict, though she is sure she sounds less tragic when described as a 'collector'.