Scrolling Facebook this morning, this very question popped up in my feed, posted into the wonderfully diverse and supportive Motherload Facebook community. It swiftly incited the usual #MOLO reaction with an avalanche of supportive comments, the overwhelming majority saying;
‘Don’t change, be yourself, think of the example you are setting your children by being true to yourself.’
Emily was worried that her image; tattoos, bright hair and piercings, might in some way hinder her girls at school when it comes to the other parents and being invited for play dates. That her beloved children might be excluded because of her own image choices.
I think that is a very real fear indeed as a Mum, what if something I do, or have done, effects my child in their future? We spend our lives worrying that we are in some way negatively impacting upon our children with our behaviour.
The school playground is a whole different ballgame though, unnerving enough at the best of times but when you stand out from the crowd, it can be an incredibly daunting experience, especially if you are feeling that you are being judged for the way that you look, and that the judgement might then filter down to your baby, making an already difficult transition for them extra hard.
This was a very real fear for me too two years ago, I myself am a slightly unconventional Mum, I have a bright pink streak in my hair, a fondness for extreme colours and Marvel when it comes to my wardrobe and (not enough!) tattoos that are prominent in Summer. I definitely stand out in the mornings amongst all the smart belted trenchcoats and classic Boden work-wear. Well, that’s how it felt at first anyway, until I started really looking around and spotting a bright Scandi print here, a hint of hidden ink there and seeing the smiles I was getting in return to my own.
Initially though, I worried that the way I choose to dress and act would in some way hinder my daughter. And very quickly, I did become known as; ‘the one with the pink hair’. It’s an easy identifier, I do stand out and I actually really like it now. For years I had supressed the real me. Leaving my hair natural, toning down my wardrobe and removing all my piercings. I was shy and I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself. But with children came confidence and gradually the hair started to change colour again, and my wardrobe choices got a little more quirky until I arrived at a version of myself that I’m happy with and feel is ‘the real me’.
Luckily my children still think I’m cool, my son loves that I love Superheroes as much as him and my daughter was thrilled when I dyed the ends of her hair purple in the school holidays. The overriding comment I get about my hair is;
‘I wish I was brave enough to do that.’
I hear it so often. So if you stand out a bit and feel like you’re getting some looks, consider the fact that they might be envious and admiring looks, it takes a lot of courage to step out of the conventional box and a lot of people wish they could do the same but their jobs or their way of thinking won’t allow it. The other important thing to remember here is that we give up so much of ourselves when we become mothers. We get lost, and it’s very important to remember that our happiness is important too, happy Mum, happy child as the saying goes.
Own your image and your real self and stand proudly at those school gates, know that you are a poster girl for being true to yourself. I find smiling a lot helps too, the people who don’t respond to you are clearly not people you want in your life anyway.or possibly they are just shy and worrying about their bad hair day!
“Is it time to take out the piercings, dye my hair brown and be a grown up for the sake of my little girls?”
Emily’s question in The Motherload® community got some brilliant answers…
Laura: Nope! Who wants to be friends with someone who judges someone else based on looks anyway?
Hannah: Never ever. They’ll never learn that being different is okay if we all change ourselves to be ‘normal’ mums.
Rebecca: If you like yourself for who you are, piercings, colourful hair and everything else, why should you change? Your children love you for who you are, don’t try and hide it.
Ellie: No! I feel like I look dull with my brown hair and I’m envious of people with bright hair and tattoos.
Casey: If anyone won’t let their kids play with yours because of your appearance then that says more about them than it does about you. In my personal opinion it’s their loss.
Carly: Be a fruitloop in a world of cheerios hun!
Louise: Maybe your kids will see you being you and have the strength to be themselves!
Megan: Heck no!!! Keep being you! You’re more likely to attract like-minded school mum friends if you stay true to yourself – and those will be the people whose kids you want yours to have play dates with!
And I’ll finish with my personal favourite!
Katie: For every worry you have about yourself, there’s another mum worrying she’s old or grey or fat or thin or at work too much or at home too much. You are beautiful and have lovely kids. Let’s all give ourselves a break.
Are you the alternative Mum in a sea of conventional Mums on the school run? Does your bright hair or clothing make you stand out a mile in a sea of muted colours and ‘grown up’ clothes? Most importantly, do you think you should ever change your image for the sake of your children?
Hi I’m Louise, a Mum of two. My daughter is 6 and my son 4. We live in beautiful Cheltenham and when I’m not writing my blog, Pink Pear Bear, nattering on Facebook, chatting on Twitter or posting beautiful snapshots of my life on Instagram, you might find me hanging out with my lovely husband, sewing, attempting to garden, (and killing everything!), reading books, Netflix and actually chilling or baking and eating cake! All the cake.