Wednesday 18 April 2012

Frog Princess

Did you read Lucy's recent post about self-esteem and body image? Krista then followed up with her own honest piece about her reasons for having breast enhancement surgery some years ago. In Krista's case, it was her then boyfriend who triggered the onset of feeling less comfortable with her appearance. Lucy suggests that we seem to have an innate ability to remember and extrapolate 'truth' from a single negative comment, whereas any number of compliments are instantly forgotten, or dismissed as mere politeness. Krista's response to one comment from her ex would seem to bear this out.

I also agree that despite many many opinion pieces on the subject - and the very existence of the vile misogynistic rag which is the Daily Mail "Look! This woman has aged in the 30 years since she made that film where she looked sexy! Let's ridicule her!"- the blame for my own vacillating self esteem cannot be placed at the feet of the media. I'm not an idiot, and thankfully not in the public eye. Whilst I'm aware that my pasty pins would look infinitely better with a tan, I have never felt the urge to sport a complexion which is   two parts Tango to three parts Ronseal. And I think we're all aware by now that magazines and ad agencies use and abuse Photoshop in their cover girl hatchet jobs. Some are beyond ridiculous -  the people at Ralph Lauren are obviously so inured to his own er, individual look, that a model's hair being twice the width of her waist could be overlooked with ease:

whereas others do take a second glance. I have no idea who Mariska Hargitay is, but I'm pretty sure she's a beautiful woman, who doesn't actually have the proportions of a Blythe doll reflected in a fun-house mirror: 

No, I don't blame the media. I occasionally succumb to the glossy lure of Grazia when I'm in Tescos and the kids are nagging for some over-priced kids mag with a shabby plastic toy on the front, but I always regret it afterwards. Not because I'm sobbing at the fact I'll never look like Cheryl Cole, but because the cover story is such a non-event. 'My new body' exclusives are beyond tedious at the best of times [we get it, you used your millions to pay for a personal trainer, or you got lipo. Yawn] but this isn't even a story of flab to fab. This is the same thin famous woman, continuing to look famous and thin. Just in a different outfit. If I'd bought this, I'd only have my own defective reasoning abilities to blame.

 I'm not denying that Cheryl has a 'killer body' in the main photograph,
but she appears have exactly the same one in the inset picture. Surely she got 'from this, to THIS' merely by taking her T-shirt off and swapping her trousers for some leopard print knickers?
THERE'S NOTHING DIFFERENT ABOUT HER!'s mock-up of 'the perfect woman', having asked shoppers about their most admired parts of female celebrities. "She has Angelina Jolie’s pillow lips, Megan Fox’s perfectly shaped eyebrows and The Duchess of Cambridge’s long glossy hair". She also has a neck to rival the Karen hill-tribe 'giraffe' women of Thailand, but strangely that's not mentioned... 

So who do I blame, if not these ludicrous magazines or societal pressure? It's my children. Seriously. Is it not enough that pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding wreak all kinds of havoc on your hitherto peachy body? Apparently not. I wouldn't mind, but mine also feel the need to point out the damage they’ve inflicted. Yeah, you supermodels or new mummy bloggers can describe your c-section scars or stretch marks as ‘badges of honour’ as much as you like, but you’re not fooling me.  After 36 hours of labour and emergency abdominal surgery I didn’t want a badge of honour. I wanted a fucking medal and 3 weeks in the Caribbean to recuperate. And now I’d like a boob-lift and a bottom which isn’t like a ‘wibble wobble jelly’ please. [direct quote from Boy2. Although whilst we were in Scotland he appeared as I was getting dressed and had apparently changed his diagnosis. Instead, my bottom was "very wrinkly. Like because you've been in the bath". I hadn't. I think I preferred his original opinion]

Yes, whilst I’ve somehow managed to spawn children with the looks of Botticelli cherubs – they’re not even adopted – regrettably they possess a level of tact somewhere between Simon Cowell and Janice Dickinson from America's Next Top Model.  Once you become a mother, the mere act of singing in the shower – once a simple pleasure, tolerated by an indulgent boyfriend –  is now likely to be punctuated by a small child observing you critically through the curtain and saying something like “Are you doing a wee Mummy? It looks like it. You’re making my ears hurt. I need to do a poo”.  On one memorable occasion I was asked "is your willy poking out?” When I replied in the negative and explained that girls and ladies didn’t have willies, he replied triumphantly – “Just balls!”.

Hmm, which would you say was wobblier? Mummy's bottom or dessert?

And don't think it's just my post-baby body which comes under scrutiny. When their gimlet gaze is lifted from my nether regions for a moment, I am treated to reminders about my need to buy pore-minimising cream "Your nose has little holes" and to keep up with a more regular schedule of depilation "You're all prickly!". At least my boobs are deemed "nice and fat", which I think is a compliment. Though Grandad was less pleased when his were noted.

Oh, but there was the time that Boy2 turned to me and said, "You look beautiful Mummy". I preened a little and began to thank him, whereupon he finished "Beautiful as a frog!". I guess to a three year old that could be considered high praise - I do get a lot of kisses after all.


Do you have any children in your life? Are you the Princess or the frog in theirs?

Lakota x

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  1. That Ralph Lauren photoshop disgrace is ridiculous. I think what I loathe about all of the anti-ageing, stay skinny/clear skinned and smiling rubbish that pours out of these magazines is how women are made to hate themselves and the women they are encouraged to copy. It's vile and I hate it. There is SO much more to women than all of this.
    Your boys are scrumptious! And your lad is right...women and girls do have balls!!

  2. Ha ha ha! As you know claud and i like to bake. she also like to shout "dough!" every time my shirt lifts, and she thinks it's hilarious to 'need' said tummy if i'm sitting down. And I can't dispute it, it does indeed look and feel exactly like dough, sadly, even when i suck it in, and especially when she buries her fist in it. I cant go spoil her fun by exercising now can i!

  3. Such an insightful post as usual, Lakota. My nose also 'has little holes' and I have stretch marks like route maps (having never been pregnant!) so I feel your pain. 'Beautiful like a frog' is quite the bizarre compliment though - your boys have a certain originality about them! I'm not sure my Nannie every quite forgave me for telling her very sagely that she had skin like a dinosaur . . .

    Jem xXx

  4. I couldn't believe that Ralph Lauren picture, its disgraceful!

    Fantastic post, as always.

    X x

  5. Oh those comments are priceless!

    I look after other people's kiddies, but sometimes get gems like 'you must be old because you're married and a teacher'. Hmmmm, great. Or 'you wear nice shoes for someone with big feet.' and the classic 'Oh, you dye your hair (without lowering voice) I can see your roots!!'.

  6. I'm not alone! I can't say "harrah" though, because it's not a fantastic place to be.
    Liam - mum, why have you got horrible cuts all over your belly?
    Ricky - Toms's mum is pretty, would you like to be pretty?
    Sonny - you're greedy, fat belly bum bum gross

    Oddly though, despite all my insecurities, I don't want to look like anyone else. Just a better/the best version of me. Seems unattainable without lots of money and free time.

    Those darn kids.

    Very honest, and for me, surprising post from you. Looking so young, slim and pretty, but not feeling it?

    Maybe we need to sort a campaign out. I'll flash my battle scars!

    Lucy x

  7. Ps, your boys are strikingly handsome, great comparison pictures. X

  8. you made me laugh so much!! I think I probably said similar things to my mum and have most definitely given her a complex of some description. oops. I also get followed to the toilet by the dog who sits and stares at me and sometimes by boyfriend who comments on the proceedings, so I'm prepared for children and their input.
    you are a great writer and always cheer me up!
    Also, WTF is going on with that woman's head and the other's high freaky shoulders?!!

  9. I don't have children of my own, but I do have three nieces whom I see a fair bit. And the eldest has come out with some gems - mainly along the lines of that I'm likely to eat all the cake or some such comment that makes me think 'wowser, definitely fat then'. She's not even seven. I didnt even register the size someone was until I was a teenager, but I suppose that in today's society, it's just made so much more of an issue....

    However, I counter balance it with replying that everyone is beautiful, and it doesnt matter what you look like or what size you are. And then she and I will have an indepth conversation about something much more interesting, such as Disney Princesses or Harry Potter and the body image talk is all over!

  10. I'm laughing at Grandad's boobs even more than your kids' descriptions of your bum, Lakota!
    Oh it's all so true, they just say what they see - mine have come out with some corkers. Laugh it off, Mothers of the World, just laugh it off and get on with life.

    Those photos are hilariously awful. I know the media have a part to play, but there's so much more to it. Our individual psychology can make us easy prey to all the shitty misogynistic messages.. Or not. We can learn to think a different way, I reckon. I am constantly surprised by the positive feedback I get on my blog, and it's been VERY useful to actually listen to it instead of doing the "Who me? Looking nice? No, surely you don't mean it?" response.
    I love how you write, keep exercising your wit and intelligence and honesty, don't worry about your wibbly bits! What's NOT to love about a cute little tree frog? Come here, I'll kiss ya! xxxxxx

  11. You're even funny when talking about serious issues! (stop with the funny photos, I'm to think about this seriously and intellectually! ;-) No, don't, please keep doing it!) Yes, all the points you made are so so true! By the way, my year 3 music lesson on Monday was based on ‘wibble wobble wibble wobble jelly on the plate!’

  12. Excellent and witty piece Lakota, and your boys’ striking the ‘angel’ pose is a gem. Those photo-shopped images are disgusting, and do leave us asking just who they are are aimed at?

  13. That Ralph Lauren picture made me feel ill. I thought the fashion industry was meant to be 'clamping down' on these weird representations of women. I can't stand the way women are not only made to feel insecure through print and online media, but also through commercials, which seem to be populated by spiteful, vindictive harpies trying to out do each other with better hair or fresher skin.

    Oh, and Mariska Hargitay is not only the star of 'Law and Order SUV' but is also the daughter of Jayne Mansfield, someone who you could argue suffered a much blunter form of objectification in the 1950's, when she was mostly portrayed as a dumb blonde with big blobs.

  14. My girls are always pointing out my faults Lakota (they don't need to, I've got a mirror and I'm not blind!) Sadly though I can't blame childish innocence, they are alot older than yours and know exactly what buttons they're pressing. I find it quite upsetting, this need to slag me and each other off. I think it's a bitchy teenage girl thing, it's rampant among their peers. I'm not saying my friends and I didn't make the odd bitchy comment here and there when we were at high school, but girls these days seem to find some sort of perverse pleasure in putting each other down ALL THE TIME. I think alot of it's to do with the stuff you discuss in your post and the need to make themselves feel better...
    My girls are actually quite lovely and caring too...although this comment of mine paints a different picture. They always stick up for the under-dog etc. It's a strange one. Anyway I'm not going to solve the problems of the world with this badly written comment so I'll end by saying, yes, I am a frog here too - they even play with my tuck-shop arms when I'm driving the know, like one of those desk toys where you push a ball and it sets all the other balls off...I'm sure there's a term in physics to describe it? Well the same thing happens to my flabby arms x

  15. Oh my god Lakota those little shits! I mean I know they are not little shits but DAM, that would totally mess with me even if they are just kids with no real idea how sometimes words can hurt. I never even thought about this since I have no children of my own, but if I did I'm sure I would embarrass them to no end with my appearance, it always seems to be something doesn't it!

    I was happy to share my story with all you wonderful women. I felt like I had too. You are all so sweet and comment on how pretty I look and I felt like I owed it to all of you to share my personal struggle with body image. I think wisdom comes with age and beauty from really loving yourself. I remember in high school a girl with really bad acne, I mean really bad. Funny thing she always had all the attention of the boys because she really thought she was beautiful and carried herself in a way I had never seen from any teen I knew. How did she figure that out so young, I still wonder to this day.
    I want us all to love ourselves as we are because that is when the real change begins. It starts inside and then other people see it too.
    Great post darling, and I think you are beautiful dammit!

  16. Those photoshopped covers are so bizarre it's actually funny. That's what's great about being pregnant, you don't feel under any pressure to look skinny. K is very fickle about my body parts though, often it's "I like your boobies" (she said the same to Mr, I'm sure that's why he joined the gym again) but then she slips in a "I don't like your boobies" harsh!

  17. Goodness me those photos on the front of those magazines are terrible - how did they get past editing?! Sack those photoshop operators! I weened myself off women's magazines because they are always full of 'you NEED this product, this product is a 'wonder product' at 8 gazillion pounds per bottle. You get to realise that the beauty editors are only promoting it all cos they get free products if they do! It's just one big fat con that costs us £3.99 for the privelege! As for yourself, just look after yourself the best you can and don't worry about what celebs are doing. x (PS I have 'boy trouble' too. Mine love reminding me how old I am!)

  18. Wonderful post - thank you - those photo-shopped pictures are amazingly distorted and disproportioned. Do they really think women will fall for such rubbish.

    I have an eight-year-old nephew who, when I saw him a month ago, asked me why I had grown a moustache!! Cheeky little blighter - I told him I just thought I would and what was the problem with that! Oddly enough though, I've been at the Jolene like a demon ever since.

  19. bahaha. I don't have experience being a little boy, but as a young girl I was very disturbed by the dark color of my mother's areolas. She told me that was rude and one day, after I had a baby it would happen to me, and now, well it's happening. I believe the simile my boyfriend used involved the word "pepperoni." Luckily I dont pose nude for a living, or for free.

    1. If people land up on my blog stats by searching 'pepperoni areola' I'm putting the blame firmly on you!

  20. This is a brilliant post. I haven't had kids say anything about my appearance yet but at school it was the usual, you were either too big or too small, too nerdy or too popular etc. Where's the middle ground? xxx

  21. I don't have kids but as a youthful gal in her early 40s I am feeling that horrid pressure, which comes from all around us, re: the absolute unacceptability of my ageing body and face - and it's so easy to wholly internalize that ethic and go to a place where you're not celebrating yourself. Conversations like this (and some humour!) help to make us more aware of those instant judgements we make, I think. And BTW that Ralph Lauren photo is SCARY!

  22. Well said. That Ralph Lauren photo is a joke, no? I always have to laugh when I see actresses and other celebrities posing for photos and how they cross their legs to try to minimize their hips...what hips?

  23. My boys know better than to tell me anything negative about the way I look. :)

    But yes, I don't get this frantic, sick, obsession with women's bodies and looks.

    Look, I do have some vanity ... I colour my hair, use hair straighteners to make my unruly mop all silky and glossy, wax my legs, and wear a bit of make up every day ....but that's it.

    I am aging visibly now and rather quickly too - every year I see a sort of mad logarithmic increase in the aging effects - sort of like the Richter Scale .... but somehow, I like myself and how I look more and more - I suppose I'm becoming more accepting of myself these days, even if I fail on every media count. Sod 'em!

  24. At 9 and 4, my girls they are completely banned from the bedroom, they keep taking my make up jewellery etc and wandering off with it. I have had too many years of children screaming at me whilst in the loo, shower, asleep. I now have shower time and getting ready time to myself every day. They keep trying to come in but I keep shooing them out! My 4 year old does occasionally remind of my fat tummy,but of course I ignore her.

  25. Brilliant post! I have regular depilation status reports from Charlie - "Mummy your legs feel spiky again" and I'm waiting for the abuse to increase as he becomes more observant.

    Your Botticelli boys are lovely though!

  26. Oh my god ive got all this to look forward from my boy - great! However my body was wobbly before child so cant really blame him for the extra layer, however maybe i should book in for surgery before he gets to that age ;o) Brilliant post hun Scarlett x p.s I happened to come across this post while googling 'pepperoni areola' - how strange...

  27. Oh yes, Grandad's boobs gave me a right ole giggle - just think, the boys probs got their cheekiness from him so they'll get their's one day hehe!! Number Two Son once peered very closely at my mum and said "Nanna, what are all those old things on your neck?" Thank god she laughed her head off - her body is utterly "destroyed" by seven children - varicose veins like giant bunches of grapes, boobs to her waist, blah, blah, blah. I've never seen anything like it. But she never refers to her "imperfections" and I wonder how she really felt about her body changes, as she was the tiniest little waif on her wedding day. Maybe I'll ask her one day. As for me, I went through a stage before my marriage break up when I was saving and booked in for a tummy tuck after four babies. I hated the look of all the spare skin, stretch marks and my warped belly button. It's never gonna happen though. I just don't care anymore - The Phoenix tells me everyday that "I'm never out of danger" (of being ravished by him) and he makes me laugh, which I value more than anything. The kids have grown out of poking and prodding me so I guess I have grandchildren to look forward to asking me, "Nonna (that's what I'll be), what are those old things on your neck?" My neck crepe is developing quite nicely so there should be plenty there for them to ogle and gawp at one day:))))). Beautiful post, lovely Lakota!!! xoxoxoxoxoox

  28. beautiful as a frog...haha...very funny. I have my fair share of saggy boobs and jiggly belly after birth and breast feeding. I wonder who started this thin is beautiful thing. Voluptuous woman used to be the in thing. I have never thought of going under the knife to look "perfect". Maybe a little bit of lifting may help if my eye lids continue to sag till it closes.


  29. Oh gosh such an interesting read, I am quite worried about what future children may subject me to but I’m sure the joy of motherhood outweighs the insults that come with it. The glossy’s are so full of air brushed women, it’s so repetitive and unimaginative! Great post Lakota xxx

  30. That grandma comment has me cracking up.
    Kids can be so blunt, they dont know any better.
    My niece once saw me taking of my rollers and brushing out my curls, she started laughing and pointing telling me my hair is funny. I guess it is hard to hide from kids.
    I think you are as pretty as a frog amor.your son is a sweety.

  31. Yes yes yes. The whole Cheryl cole and her weight saga really got on my nerves. All we ever hear in these magazines are celebs are too skinny and are setting a bad example, then as soon as they pile on the pounds they're deemed to fat and are ridiculed. What is this teaching our youth? Great post :)

  32. Ha! Loved this article. Your kids are adorable and well, they say really funny things (that I wouldn't like said to me!). When I ask, "how do I look?" my son says: "You look pretty mommy." So, so far, I'm safe (and really I didn't train him...well not intentionally, I think perhaps I am guilty of saying, on occasion, "don't I look pretty?". But yes...I think the 3 weeks in the Caribean + plastic surgery (or really just that firming lotion I am too cheap to buy) would have suited me a lot better than stretch marks too!

  33. im shocked looking at those two models in ralph laurent and good housekeeping magazine! i gotta say lakota, your boys are so adorable and boy2 said the funniest thing hehe, I wish i had one or two in my life! guess even i who never had children is always constantly insecure about my body weight and other imperfections (too many too count) in my body, i dont see myself that much anymore in the mirror and struggle to lose weight every single damn time!

    xx susan

  34. You are brilliantly funny. If you're a "mommy blogger" you're the first one I've honestly liked. A lot. As in I'd subscribe to your feed and whatnot. Seriously. Write for a living. You've got wit, balls, and froggy good looks. the Citizen Rosebud

  35. Hellooo lovely lady! I don't have children but I do have nephews who are now 17 and 15. When the eldest was little he followed me everywhere and copied all my mannerisms. It was gorgeous. Right up to the point where he decided to follow me into the loo every time I needed to go. I couldn't cope with the scrutiny of his gaze round my nethers, and so locked him out. He proceeded to stand outside and scream at the top of his voice "Aunty Em has locked me out of the toilet!!!!!! She won't let me see her big fluff!!!!!!" I still haven't got over it. Em xxxxxxxxxxxx

  36. laughed out loud! my littest (4) likes to lift up my top and 'wubble' by belly saying that its big and wibbley but if i ask if its too big she says no, its a lovely pillow and kisses it!

  37. LOL! Those photos are freaky! That's photoshop gone mad, surely! The pic of your boys is perfection obviously.

    I've trained the Wee Man to tell every woman they look 21 years old and they are all pretty. He often compliments me on my choice of outfit. Unless you count last week when he said my new shoes made me look like an old lady! That's the last time I buy shoes from Clarks even if they were only £10 reduced from £39.99!

    Madison xxx


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