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How Do I Look, Mum?

Last week I read a disturbing article in the news.

A teenager from Florida was rushed to hospital complaining of pains in her abdomen. At first, the doctors thought the girl could be pregnant, but after a traumatic trip to the bathroom, it was revealed that the girl was riddled with tapeworms. How? Her own mother had knowingly fed her them in a bid for her to keep the weight off for her next beauty pageant! Unbelievable! Women, especially young women, have enough pressure to look perfect from the media, celebrities and their peers. Should we now have to worry about added pressure from mothers too?

My mum takes pride in her appearance and is into fashion, but she isn’t the type of lady who has to have make up on her face in order to leave the house. Growing up, I always assumed that women only wore make up if they were headed for a night on the town. When I wanted to dabble in make up and high heels (and this came early on, as I liked to think I was much older and ‘mature’ than my actual age) my mum was strict and limited the things I was allowed to wear. I remember when jelly sandals were big in the 90s and while all of my classmates were adorning pink sparkly ones with a small heel, I was begging my mum to let me have a pair. It fell on deaf ears! I had to make do with popping my feet into my mum’s shoes playing dress up when I wanted to wear shoes with a heel. Then there was make up. I would buy eye shadow with my pocket money, only to be told to “go and wash that off my face” before stepping out of the front door.

Back then I was resentful; not being able to understand why my friends mums allowed them to do things when my mum wouldn’t, but looking back, I am now thankful. I love taking the time and making the effort to look nice, treating myself to a new pair of shoes or a new top when I’ve had a stressful week, but when I want to scrape back my hair and wear a hoodie, I feel comfortable to leave the comfort of my own home, without worrying that people will notice my face is completely bare. As I have to look good for my job, I tend to tone down my make up when I’m off work, not only because I can’t really be bothered, but also to give my skin room to breathe without foundation!

Reading that story made me think. Some of my friends have mothers who turn up the pressure when it comes to their daughter’s appearance. I have heard their mums say things like ‘ Are you going to do your hair before you go out?’ and ‘You can’t go out looking like that!’ after I have just watched my friends spend hours getting ready. Talk about a confidence killer! One friend’s mum even bought her botox for Christmas one year, even though she is at the tender age of 26, because she said she was starting to get lines on her forehead. As hard as I looked, I could never see those lines!

I understand that mothers want what’s best for their children, but surely it’s better to concentrate on their studies, personalities, whether they are kind and empathetic, good communicators and well-rounded women other than what they look like?


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