Being a Good Influence(r)

Be a good influence(r)

Be a good influence(r)As you’ve probably heard by now, last week Hello! Magazine launched their annual ‘Star Mum’ campaign, sponsored by Next. Aside from the incredibly icky ‘judging motherhood’ factor, the campaign was heavily criticised for the lack of diversity in its panel.

The backlash itself came under fire, with some feeling that the celeb mums were being treated too harshly, and the blame lay solely with the brand and magazine. And of course, the reality is that if the board rooms in which these campaigns were signed off were more diverse, this shit wouldn’t keep happening. Continue reading

Make Motherhood Diverse

After I gave birth to my son in April, I decided to leave the murky swamp of Mumsnet to frolic in the warm, welcoming pool of Insta Mum sisterhood I’d heard so much about. But as I waded in to the world of #letkidsbekids and #motherhoodunplugged, I was genuinely surprised by the narrow view of motherhood that was being represented.

There weren’t even any skint, plus-size mums like me, let alone BAME mums, LGBT mums or disabled mums. For me, one of the greatest things about the internet is that there are no gatekeepers, anyone can get a blog or a YouTube channel and tell their story. But, of course, once there is money being made, there are gatekeepers, and just as the most successful YouTubers are cute, thin, white teenagers, it’s fair to say that the most successful Insta mums are cute, thin, white women. Because that’s who the brands want to sell (and buy) their products.

Well fuck the brands. The Insta Mum sisterhood is self-made (just like the individuals who are killing it daily with their blogs, babies and brands) and now it’s essential we make it a sisterhood for everyone.

In the same way that to declare yourself a feminist is now no big deal, we have got to become more confident about declaring ourselves supporters of affirmative/positive action (or positive discrimination as the haters refer to it). It’s really nothing to be afraid of, let me break it down. The vast, vast majority of the positions of power are held by white men. So either you believe that white men are inherently more talented and deserving of these positions than the rest of the population, or you believe there are other factors are at play. That’s it; there’s no third option. Being a white man is already an unfair advantage in life, positive action simply levels the playing field.

And it applies to all situations where there are calls for diversity. If you don’t take the opportunity to use your platform to amplify the voices of marginalised women, to stand up when you can see not all voices are at the table, frankly you’re part of the problem.

So here some simple ways you can very easily do your bit to help #MakeMotherhoodDiverse:

  • If you are an event organiser, make sure all voices are represented in your panel/guestlist. Aim for least 50% BAME women, LGBT women, disabled women, women from working class backgrounds, fat women, etc. All of these women will have very different experiences of your topic and it’s important they’re all heard!
  • If you are a brand, make sure your brand reps are diverse. Even the babies!
  • If you are asked to participate in an event or campaign, ask who else is involved. If you’re unhappy with the diversity of voices, tell the organiser. If they don’t do anything about it, drop out. Or mention it publicly at the event.
  • If you have the swiping link function, use it to highlight the blogposts, videos and products of women from marginalised groups.
  • If you participate in #FollowFriday, use it to grow the platforms of women from marginalised groups instead of only recommending women who already have a significant platform.
  • If you enjoy content from mums from marginalised groups, engage with it (like, share and comment) to make sure social media algorithms put it in front of as many people as possible.

Small actions can make a big difference, so let’s get on this. I’d also just take the opportunity to give enormous kudos to @candicebrathwaite and a whole gang of other amazing women who are making this campaign happen and championing some much needed change.

Mumtrepeneurs & Work That Works

Mumtrepeneurs and Work That Works

Mumtrepeneurs and Work That Works

I have to confess there was a time when I would shudder at the the use of the term ‘mumtrepeneur.’ And it wasn’t just the clumsy portmanteau that bothered me, it seemed reductive to attach the achievements of trailblazing women to their parental status, as if they were not equal to their male (or female, childfree) associates.

But, of course, it’s true that they’re not equal at all, and actually to ignore the context in which these women are frequently breaking ground and reaching the top of their game is to do them a huge disservice.

In 2016, official figures confirmed that there are now over 800,000 mothers (of children under 18) running their own business part- or full-time. When you become a parent, financial security seems more important than ever, and the decision to forfeit guaranteed salary, regular shift patterns, pension contributions, sick pay, annual leave and parental leave is not one taken lightly.

Many of these mumtrepeneurs are women who have been pushed out of contracted employment as a direct result of their choice to have children. In spite of the fact that every employee has the right to request flexible working, mums are increasingly feeling that the only way they can continue to use their skillset in the workforce is to go freelance or set up a new business.

The economy still benefits from the experience and skills of these women, without any workers’ rights whatsoever. The think tank Development Economics estimates that in 2014 alone, mumtrepeneurs generated approximately £7.2billion of wealth in this country. Many are running their businesses with zero childcare, further increasing the emotional labour that disproportionately falls on women. Even those with school age children must negotiate thirteen weeks of school holidays per year, plus any unexpected sick days.

Digital technology has enabled mumtrepeneurs to create prosperous and often ground-breaking kitchen table businesses. But it’s not OK that these women have to leave workers’ rights behind in order to find success. The promise of a union being set up to support freelancers is a positive step, but going self-employed has to be a choice, not the only option.

This week is Digital Mums’ #WorkThatWorks Week, urging businesses to champion flexible working for all, highlighting proven benefits to employers such as reduced costs, increased efficiency and staff retention. Anna Whitehouse of Mother Pukka fame is also drawing attention to this issue with her Flex Appeal campaign. On 31st October this year, you stand up and be counted by joining Pregnant Then Screwed’s March of the Mummies. 

It’s vital we all back campaigns like this and go out of our way to demand a flexible and supportive workplace culture for all employees, parent or not. You never know when you might need that flexibility, and going self-employed isn’t the right choice for everybody. 

Plus Size Guide to Maternity Wear

Plus Size Maternity Wear

So after years of teary dressing room meltdowns and wearing all black outfits in the hope they would make you invisible, you’ve finally found your plus-size fashion game and you’re looking *flames* *100* all day, every day. Except now you’re pregnant, and you hit up your go-to plus size ranges only to find your maternity options look like this:

Not that there’s anything wrong with white denim puff sleeves per se, but they might be a little difficult to style out in the office. And besides, given that almost none of your clothes fit now, you could probably do with some wardrobe staples first. Continue reading