Today I had a stand at the Peterborough Women’s Festival. It was fantastic to be in a space celebrating women and encouraging them to not be an afterthought but the main act. Girls to the front (in the words of the riot grrrl scene). Some fantastic grrrls from my Punk Aerobics class got up and did a pom pom flash mob to Celebrity Skin by Hole and later on me and Louise showed the routine to some little girls. I hope they remember dancing in the town hall to Courtney Love one day!
I think I was pretty much born a feminist but since having a girl of my own to raise I am even more aware of the messages we send girls and women every day. First and foremost girls must be pretty, small and nice. My daughter is already obsessed with princesses. “Do I look fablious mummy?” She asks and I say “you do”. She runs to check in the mirror and beams as she agrees that yes she is “fablious”. And I want her to feel that way forever. I never want her to look in a mirror and hate her reflection, I don’t want her to wish she was thinner, taller or blonder or long for skin that does not explode with freckles in the sun. I don’t want her to rush with shame if a dial hits a number on a scale or feel like she can’t wear shorts and vest tops in the sun cos she isn’t worthy. And it’s hard, because even though we try to build our girls up we’ve absorbed the same messages about self worth and acceptable bodies, faces and sizes from the media we consume. How can we teach self love to our daughters if we don’t love ourselves? It’s a battle but the older I get the more I realise that we are so much more than our bodies. It is important that we care for ourselves and exercise and nourish our bodies with good food but we must do it from a place of self love rather than punishment and shame. We must stand proud and know how strong and important we are.