High heels are here to stay & now they’re after your children

High heel for child

Apparently sales of high-heeled shoes are on the up. Seeing as women pay mad amounts of money just for the glimpse of a red sole, this may come as no surprise. But the problem in this instance is that these heels aren’t for women, they are in fact for children.

Suri Cruise is to blame for this according to the New York Times. The seven year old offspring of the strangest man in the world (albeit a very wealthy and powerful man) chooses to spend her days tottering around in a pair of glittery peep-toes – large heel included. ‘Chooses’ is the key word there. Of course a small girl who likes pink and dreams about being a princess (completely unaware that she is treated as one in reality and does live in a whopping great castle unlike the rest of us minions) is going to want to wear sparkly shoes. It’s Wizard of Oz without the green faced witch. It’s prancing down a yellow brick road without the flying monkeys. It’s fun.

The problem here isn’t Suri or the other children that have these strappy numbers attached to their feet. The problem is the parents. I mean I’d love to leave the house swathed in an oversized blanket clutching a hot water bottle. Or wrap myself in a bin bag when it’s lashing outside and all I really want to do is lie down next to the radiator. But I don’t. Because well apart from the looks of ‘are you mad’ from the general population, it’s just not the done thing. I don’t think my boss would like it, especially if there were meetings involved or any way at all that I was in contact with the general public. Plus I think after a while I may not be able to distinguish the parts of my life anymore as they would all bleed into one big blanket fest. The children may like and want these shoes, but it’s the one with the wallet that buys them. Prancing around in your mother’s (or father’s) heels is no longer a fun thing to do at home, now you can make it a baby’s reality.

Heels

I have to wonder what the thought process is behind this (hopefully) new fad. I mean are these heel purchasing parents just indulging their children’s every whim? Are they worried that their small feet will not get enough bunions and blisters in their life so they need to start early? Is it some kind of endurance test for the products of their loins? A kind of – if you survive a week in those things without socks and on daily walks up a steep hill then you are the master of your destiny, a child truly worthy of my love and attention.

I guess it was only a matter of time before the shoes came next. Everything else in the shops, particularly for girls, is a mini version of what their mother would wear. Or a woman with a penchant for crop tops, tutus and strapless numbers. Why do we all seem in such a rush for kids to grow up? The lines now seem blurred between child and adult, the age of consent merely a watermark that the tide has long swept away.

While writing this I can’t help think of the great sketch in ‘Modern Family’ when the child Lily keeps running away at Disneyland and they don’t know how to stop her. Her grandfather, married to a 8 inch-heeled woman himself knows exactly what to do and takes Lily shopping. When they return she is in heels and shuffling around the place like an arthritic elderly person on a Zimmer frame. Problem solved, parents happy.

So maybe that’s it. Maybe all these parents just want their kids to calm down and take it easy so they can too. I mean after all it’s a better option than Ritalin.

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In the fight for equality, women seem to be losing….

Girl and butterfly graffiti

In the fight for equality, women seem to be losing…

I was once stopped in the street for a vox pop quote. It was a well-known radio station and the question was simple – Do you think women are treated equally? At the time I said yes. I waffled on about glass ceilings and women being able to work, earn their own money and make their own decisions. And that’s true, at least in the tiny bubble I was living in and referring to. In my part of the world there are opportunities, options, choices (albeit reduced since the life sucking recession) for women, but that is not universal. I still cringe when I think about my answer.

Strangely the trial of Oscar Pistorius has brought the issue of women to the forefront. The Guardian reported that in South Africa there were more than 64,000 sexual offences, including rape reported in the year to April 2012, while domestic violence against women is common. That figure is staggering while the word ‘common’ being used to describe domestic abuse is hard to get my head around. Somehow the practice is normal and accepted.

I think a lot of women (including myself) have forgotten that others are not as lucky. While we reap the benefits of the feminist movement and changes in society, many are stuck in the same situation they have been in for thousands of years with little or no sign of change.

I spent a lot of my childhood in the Middle East. Part of living there was that we were segregated from the people we lived around and beside. As expatriates we all lived in compounds with high and thick walls. I was never sure if it was to keep us in or others out. As a child you adapt and get used to things. It wasn’t strange for me to see women swathed in black with only a slit for their eyes. I remember thinking how hot they must be. In temperatures of over 45 degrees celsius they were forced to walk around in the greatest heat seeker ever invented, while the men wore white long robes that reflected the blazing sunshine which was often raised to be used as a fan. It was as if the garb was made just to add more weight to the woman’s burden, always dressed as night even when walking in day.

It was and still is a culture of superiority and repression. Testosterone is the ruling factor and anything less – is well, just less. I didn’t see it when I was younger, never understood the implications. When I visited as a teenager I found it oppressive. I had to watch what I wore, make sure that my sleeves and hems were long enough. It was a shock to the system despite the many years already spent there. I was acutely aware of my body and felt like I stood out.

International Women's Day logo

The experience made me aware of my gender. I have always felt comfortable in my own skin and going to a mixed primary school, never thought much about the difference between men and women, at least not past the practical sense of physicality. It may sound naive, but I took people for who they were and (a) gender was something I just was.

As I got older I noticed things more, paid attention to the differences. After a stint in an all-girls secondary school I realised that I didn’t like girls much. At least not girls stuck together with no male buffer. It was a bitchy and tense environment where I constantly had to be on my toes, to not offend, say the wrong thing or reveal too much. It was not a place I enjoyed or would like to repeat. Nothing untoward happened. I just don’t think it’s a natural environment for any child, either all-male or all-female. Why exclude half the population? Aren’t you just setting a precedent for this division as ‘normal’?

Admittedly men and women think differently. Men seem less preoccupied with things they cannot change. They have an enviable ability to accept and move on. Pragmatism must be embedded somewhere in the Y chromosome. They also look for solutions rather than dabble in the problems. In my experience women love the problems – or rather the steps to resolution. We want to get there, but have some angst/fun/enamel gritting along the way. But isn’t it the differences that have got us into this, seeking what separates us rather than binds us?

The fact is there is still a huge gap between men and women. It is narrowing in certain cases, but in many such as India where the gang rape of a medical student in Dehli caused protests and outrage, the case of a 16 year old being set on fire for accusing a man of rape (again in India), the widespread practice of female genital mutilation across the globe along with the arranged marriages of children not even in puberty, the chasm just seems to be widening. The ‘weaker sex’ are being kept weak.

I have always hated that term  – ‘weaker sex’ along with ‘bird’, ‘chick’ and anything other feathered reference. It is derogatory and is meant to be. Why does one gender have to be superior to another? Can identity not be linked to what we do and are doing, rather than the costumes we were born wearing? Can’t we just be known by our name?

International Women’s Day takes place on March 8th.

Girls will be girls….or will they?

m&m

Girls will be girls….or will they?

This morning I read an article in thejournal.ie that listed 11 things that girls like. As a girl (and apart from the lazy journalism since these facts are all garnered from tweets) I found some of them ridiculous and others just dumb. For that extra dose of Wednesday madness, which ones do you think were said by a girl/woman or boy/man?

1) Having a bobby pin there right when you need it – not named after a random Bobby, but the bob hairstyle where it was used to keep the hair in place. They are rubbish, always fall out, never stay in the right place and poke you dagger-like on lying down when you forget they are there (as they usually fall out). Give me a hair tie any day. NEXT…

2) M&Ms – They’re chocolate, colourful, wear strange oversized white gloves and it’s cliched, but in most cases probably true, especially when at the cinema.

3) Fictional characters and celebrities twice their age – These two don’t seem to go together. Was this person somehow watching Snow White and suddenly George Clooney popped into their head? Did they experience a dream where Hugh Hefner’s visage was in place of Shrek’s face? Both statements may be true. Fiction is frequently more fun that reality and celebrities, well, they are well groomed, PR’d to the hilt and as you will never meet most of them are a fictitious character anyway. Ah, now I get the link!

4) When our bra and underwear match because it feels like we have our life together – I wish ‘having my life together’ was that easily accomplished. I wish when dressing in the morning that wearing all black, red, pink, etc. meant that the day and my life would run smoothly. There would be no meetings you would rather pull your teeth out than sit through or mad dash for the bus with a driver that pretends not to see you and shuts the door in your face. It’s all rainbows and ponies. But what happens when you run out of underwear matches? Is your world suddenly sent down a spiral of devastation and despair? Will your day just go from bad to worse? The risk is too great so I’ll stick to whatever comes to hand! Drivel….

5) They like to post a sh*t ton of photos of themselves and get 100+ likes on them on FB – I think this person is just angry. At the world, at social networks, at women. Steer clear…

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It’s a Numbers Game

I wrote this piece about online dating when I was single and neck deep in the process. On re-reading I realise what a depressing experience it was for me. Others who love it may disagree (either way please feel free to share!). This is the first of a few experiences I wanted to share.

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I’ve opted for a café, midday on Sunday. It’s small and dark, the scent of coffee heavy in the air. This is the last one, no more after this. If he turns out to be a freak then I’m out of here. No pleasantries, no delay. It will mean my faith is finally spent, leaving me on the edge, the precipice of eternal singledom.

I’ve concluded that it’s a scam, a monthly subscription prised from your bank account. You are drawn in by an overzealous blurb; a website claiming to have hundreds of great people just waiting, ready and eager to make a connection. It’s heralded as the only way to meet someone now. We are living in barren realms, an island divided between the paired and undesirable. It’s like the counties Ireland cannot have. Attached but denied, a middle finger stuck up from across the border.

This scam is of course compounded by the stories. The tales of success from people you know to those that everyone else has heard of; the Chinese whispers of successful pairings. With dedication and hard work they found the love of their life in the maze of profiles. What follows is sun drenched holidays, co-habitation, the exchange of rings and birthing plans.

Now I can’t say there aren’t men, toting blurry photos and bland descriptions. But the real men, the fleshy ones that get past the shade of spell check are such a disappointment. A collection of thieves, frauds and opportunists that for the sake of all woman are better off staying behind that keyboard, chained to the very desk they type from.

At least that’s my story; the ones I’ve had the misfortune to pick.

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