Category Archives: Sex Positive Parenting

Dear Body Image of 5 Year Old Me.


Dear Body Image of 5 year old me,

So I already wrote to my 15 year old body image, but since the news broke that many 5 year olds have poor body image it made me reflect on my own body image aged 5.

As a birthday present my grandma had bought me two new swimming costumes, a royal blue one with florescent trim and a red and white striped bikini pretty similar to this one but with red frills and pants instead of shorts.

I was totally in love with both my new swimming costumes but I especially loved my bikini, it felt so grown up to have an actual bikini. I knew my mum didn’t approve, she didn’t think little girls should wear bikini’s, but the top was a crop top rather than a bra like one. I was five I didn’t have breasts I needed to hide, but now I am a mum myself I understand more about her reservations about girls and bikini’s.

Anyhow I wore it swimming for the first time and my overriding memory of that day was being embarrassed about having my stomach on show.  I thought I was too fat to wear a bikini, and I kept trying to cover my stomach up.

I was ONLY FIVE YEARS OLD and somehow I had already been warped into thinking my tummy should be flat and I must be skinny.  Where the hell did I get that idea from!? Remembering that makes me so sad.  I was a normal healthy 5 year old girl. I wasn’t skinny but I definitely wasn’t fat or overweight, I just had a normal child’s tummy.  It worries me how I must have received these messages that girls must be slim from such an early age.

I suspect partly it was my family and my relationship with my mum and her own relationship with her weight and food, partly my peers- at that time my best friend was Becky- she was slim and beautiful and everyone always commented on her looks.  I don’t think it can have been the media too much- I wasn’t allowed to watch that much telly and my mum never really had women’s magazines, but maybe it was also the billboards, the adverts, thin obsessed society that seeped into my consciousness and invaded my self esteem?

Whatever it was, I never want my girls to feel how I felt that day at the swimming pool (I don’t think I ever wore that swimming costume again), but I feel powerless to stop them feeling like that. What can I do as a mum to make them confident in their own bodies?  I hope my own reasonably happy in own skin body image will help (it took a lot of work and I didn’t get there until I was in my twenties), for example I never ever diet, and I am not particularly obsessed with my weight (although I am aware I eat too much cake at the minute and when I stop breastfeeding I may need to reign it in a bit) as I do think mothers own body image has a massive impact on how daughters perceive their own body image.

On the other hand I worry about Oddler’s diet- she has always been in the 99.9th centile and she eats a lot.  At the minute we try not to worry too much about it, we encourage fruit and veg but are not too fussed if she doesn’t eat them, I really don’t want to get into food being a battleground as it was with my own parents.  Also as my diet isn’t optimum so I can’t really force stuff on my kids that I tend to avoid if I can (I really need to work on that whole role modelling lark!).  We do encourage activity and as she grows up she is a normal healthy two year old on the big side but not overweight for her age. She is exactly like me and I can see she is going to have my build and I can see already the differences in her sister- her baby sister is always going to be a skinny one (like her dad) and I wonder how this will be for them both growing up, especially in the teenage years. I think we just keep doing what we are doing on that front and hope for the best.

One thing important for me to do for their body image is to curb my critical tongue, I inherited it from my mother and I can often come out with a negative instead of a positive.  I know the effect it had on me growing up and I don’t want to have the same effect on my girls. I’m hoping my own experiences will help me not make the same mistakes my parents did, but I also know I am likely to make other mistakes  (plus Philip Larkin had a point), and ultimately I do know my parents love(d*) me and wanted what was best for me, just as I do for my girls.

So dear 5year old body image- the memory of you makes me so sad- as does my 15 year old body image, however ultimately I am cheered that as a 30 year old woman I am pretty happy in my own skin. I am never going to be a skinny minnie, I am never going to have a flat stomach and I’m always going to have my childbearing hips and proportionate build, but that’s okay because I am happy and healthy (could be healthier admittedly) exactly how I am.  So now I just need to work on my girls being at the point I am now without going through the same body image blips I did! Is that even possible?

Raising girls with good self esteem- it’s a minefield innit! Help!

Lots of Love

LadyLoveBodiesAndAllTheyCanDoCurd

*P.S Love(d) because my Dad died recently but I know he loved me, I know my alive Mum still loves me.  I have no idea of the correct grammar in such cases!

Dear Parents and Carers- re. Ann Summers


Dear Parents and Carers*,
So Ann Summers has caused a furore by their really grim “I-scream” campaign.  Already lots of blog posts on it here, here, here, here, here and here. Rather than replicate the other fine posts on it, I was having musings of a slightly different angle.
When I was about 7ish I saw some people with bald heads giving away free papers. Knowing how much my dad loved free papers to make spills for our fire, I pulled his arm and drew attention to the men with the free papers, “Daddy daddy, free papers- let’s get some!”.  My dad pulled me away and explained that those skinheaded men were actually neo-nazi’s or the BNP (if it existed back then) and the free papers they were handing out were going to be horribly racist and he would never take them, not even to burn on our fire.**   When my dad explained what the newspapers were I distinctly remember claiming I wanted to go and get one and burn it in front of them (yes I was a 7 year old political activist, I was a member of the Woodcraft Folk- we kept trying trying to free Nelson Mandela- I knew that racist shit was wrong.) Yes, my dad did pull me away in case my 7year old head got kicked in- or his for having such a bolshy daughter!
But my point is this- yes kids are going to see unpleasant things on the high street. It’s unfortunate but true. The very existence of Ann Summers on the high street may need explaining at some point. As it happens I live very near a sex toy warehouse (as you do!), the sign outside makes it fairly clear what the company is.  We walk past it most days and at some point the kids will ask what the sign means, and I will tell them, an age appropriate version of the truth, “they sell toys for grownups” or something.  What I am trying to say is that yes Ann Summers is wrong and grim for this particular campaign but we can’t let such things abdicate  our responsibility as parents to explain controversial things they may question us about.   If anything it highlights the increasing need for parents to be prepared and equip themselves for such difficult conversations.
Don’t get me wrong I do think Ann Summers are disgustingly cynical for running this particular grim campaign, but I think we are all falling into exactly the publicity trap they want by getting so hysterical about it.  It’s the Daily Mail Technique all over again. Ann Summer’s couldn’t give a stuff that “the mums” are up in arms about it- we are not really their core target audience- they really want the bright young things, the 18-30-somethings yet to settle down the ones still actually having sex because they haven’t got kids, the ones who don’t want to be “the stuffy prudish mummy types”, so by alienating us, they increase their core rating with their chosen demographic. Or am I being cynical?
When pondering how to write this post, I was talking to @Itsmotherswork about the Ann Summers I Scream Advertising campaign as she is a mum and activist whose opinions I deeply respect.  She wrote the following which basically sums up exactly how I feel in a far better way than I could ever write, so I paste it below (reproduced with permission).

I think it’s deliberately provocative in a deeply unpleasant way. I think it draws together themes/images of sexuality and childhood in order to provoke a reaction; it does so knowingly having seen other similarly questionable campaigns raise the profile of other brands without taking a reputational hit to their brand value, and it’s because basically the people who buy into the Ann Summers brand aren’t the same demographic as those who get apoplectic over children’s exposure to sexualised images. For that reason I think that hysterical ‘anti’ campaigning only feeds the publicity machine in a way that they will be quite happy with. I’d prefer a subdued shrug of the shoulders and a “what a pity they’re prepared to walk that line just to court publicity” stance. (There’s no other possible reason for the theme of the campaign.) I do think that parents need to be ready to explain all sorts of images and ideas to their offspring, perhaps earlier in their lives than they imagined, and I do consider that a responsibility that they should take seriously. But I absolutely don’t think that it’s a responsibility that parents should shoulder alone. In a way that means that other adults who aren’t raising children can out whatever images they like into the world and leave parents having to deal with the explanations. What I’d really like to see is the Ann Summers team who commissioned the campaign and the agency that developed it, sitting down with children and answering the questions that the children have, which the campaign provokes. I think they should be required to confront the consequences of their provocation and deal with them honestly, and ideally while the parents of the children asking the questions watch them do it, and see how they manage. :-)

Her final point is SHEER GENIUS!  Let’s call them to account in that way. Let’s ask them to sit down with the children and answer their questions about the campaign. Let’s confront them with the reality of their advertising.  In fact maybe we should call upon the ASA to set up just such a group for all advertising, it might just help to reign in this runaway “sex sells” technique, for I personally can’t see a advertising executive being very comfortable explaining what lubricant is to a 6year old. Can you?

Yours Sincerely

LadyAsking&AnsweringDifficultQuestionsCurd

P.S. *”Dear Parents and Carers” reads like a letter home from school- not sure they would ever send one like this home! but maybe schools should send letters home with tips and advice on where to get help and support to deal with difficult conversations like this?
P.P.S ** Although I distinctly remember a cheeky double standard re. not taking nasty things to burn. My dad used to put up Labour Posters everywhere during run ups to the election- and he “kindly” offered to help the Tory campaigner doing the same with his Conservative posters, by claiming he just did it as a dayjob he wasn’t affiliated to any party. The stupid arse believed him and our fire burned happily with Conservative posters for a while! HAHAH!)

Dear Pretty Dresses and Photographers


Dear Pretty Dresses and Photographers,

Okay so I had a silly bit of angst yesterday and it was caused by pondering this comment on Dear Makeup from my friend Etellerandet:

….Everyone praises her for being beautiful. Now, I’m not saying everyone should call her ugly to toughen her up but she’s not getting any other praise “that was kind, that was brave, that was clever, that was hard work, that was funny, that was friendly, that was good sharing” it’s all “pretty/beautiful”. So, her only feedback is “good work for putting on a dress today” I constantly tell her she’s “strong” and so she thinks that is a feminine and admirable quality. ….

…..For what happens the first day at school when someone calls her ugly, or fat, or spotty, or gangly, or something. Her entire self esteem is based on needing her appearance praised. It’s going to be extra horrible. More horrible than for a, say, a boy who’s only ever been praised for being good at active things. (with the occasional “handsome!” thrown in)

Yesterday was photo day at playgroup.  I put the girls into really pretty dresses and did Oddler’s hair in bunches (I am no hairdresser- had to redo it several times and it still looked shit).  I know I wanted my girls to look smart for the photos but there were a few issues I was pondering overthinking firstly my girls virtually never wear dresses, Omble is always in babygro’s and Oddler is in whatever is to hand but usually stretchy trousers and comfy tops, so I was sort of pondering why I was recording them for posterity in not their usual garb but then it is nice to have “dressed up smart” pics to look back on too.

The other issue I was pondering is Oddler already is saying lots of “pretty dresses, I like pretty dresses” and twirling about whenever in a dress.  Yesterday she went one step further and was admiring herself constantly in the mirror and saying “I look pretty today mummy”.  Now it’s true she did look completely adorable dressed up, and she got so much feedback from all the other mums (and me) at playgroup about how pretty she looked that I could see her swelling with pride (before doing her usual of trying to take all her clothes off and run around naked again!).

So yesterday I could really see how self esteem about appearance starts at such a  young age especially in the girls.  The boys at playgroup were told they looked cute or smart but not really and not coo-ed over in the same way the girls were.   Don’t get me wrong I am not about to stop telling my daughter she is beautiful to try and avoid angst around her appearance as that won’t work at all as all there are other influences also making her feel appearance is so heavily valued, and an absence of that validation from her own mum could really mess her up, but what I am saying is as a mum I do need to be aware of my balance of praise towards Oddler- so that it is much more about what she does than how she looks.

Or am I worrying too much again?

Love LadyMotherOfDaughtersCurd

Dear “Not That Kind Of Girl”


Dear Not That Kind Of Girl,

So yesterday I claimed I wasn’t “that kind of girl” but the day before I was proclaiming I was a Slut, as there seems to be some incongruous value judgements going on there I think I need to unpick this further with you. I think you are the best person to ask. You not being that kind of girl and all.

So if I truly believe women should be able to love who they want, have sex with who they want, dress how they want, then I shouldn’t really be having “not that kind of girl” issues.

What do I mean by “That kind of girl”? I suppose I meant one who would have sex with a lorry driver in a service station, which then implies I am judging women for doing that. Which I am not. If a single woman wants to have consensual no strings attached sex with a lorry driver in a service station then she should absolutely fill her boots and I would probably be rather impressed and a bit in awe of her confidence (In fact my best friend – who is possibly “that kind of girl?” has enjoyed sneaky sex in a lorry at work a few times. Thus it turns out I know rather more than I should about the logistics of sex in a lorry having missed my own chance at it! ).

However I think I was directing my “not that kind of girl” comment at the lorry driver. He may have encountered women before who would willingly have sex with him in the services, but had I pulled into the services with him genuinely I would have been wanting a coffee and a getting to know you chat first, I’m shy like that plus I hadn’t shaved my legs and was wearing a panty liner, this being back in the day I used to make an effort . The thing is I’m not sure that coffee and a chat was the deal on the table in that situation, and I fear that, had I pulled over but then not put out, I may have been in serious danger of being forced into doing something I didn’t want to. Obviously I am not trying to label all lorry drivers as potential rapists, however given that he turned agressive when I legged it after not pulling over, then I think my instincts in that particular situation were absolutely right not to pull over.

I appreciate flirting on the M6 is a very unusual situation and not one there are etiquette rules for, plus the added not being able to talk or swap phone numbers or do any of the usual “getting to know you type foreplay” meant you would have to have a certain level of confidence to enter into that situation to possibly have spontaneous sober sex with a complete stranger and deal with all the possible consequences. I’m not that confident kind of girl. Maybe that is what I meant by “that kind of girl”?

I also need to transpose the M6 story into another story along similar lines but where I did end up in a dangerous situation:

We are travelling in the same direction at the same time (though not a motorway- we were walking drunkenly home through the park), there is flirting and thanks to the drink, we end up skipping home holding hands. On my part I genuinely think I have made a new friend, I don’t particularly fancy him, he offers me to go back to his place for a drink, I am clear it is just a drink , he agrees, I go up to his place, have the drink. He keeps trying it on. I keep refusing. He starts playing mind games to try and get me to stay, I feel sorry for him, he keeps trying it on. I stay longer than I should, he keeps trying it on, I sober up and think “fuck this!”. I leave. He opens window and shouts “here’s that fucking drink” and throws a bottle at my head! Thankfully it missed.*

So M6 situation- rules were unclear because of the situation but I did what I needed to try and keep safe, but was still shown agression for not “following through”. Latter situation, rules were much clearer but he tried to break them, and at least I was able to stay safe. Thankfully the vast majority of times I have enjoyed a flirty exchange, there has been no heavy price to pay, (because most men are not rapist scum) but I also appreciate how lucky I have been given some situations I have ended up in.

So this brings me back to “not that kind of girl” and being a “slut“. I still want to bring my girls up to be free to wear what they want, fall in love with who they want and have sex with who they want. But that is assuming they are growing up in a society that isn’t full of these value judgements against such women, and is also full of men (and women) who have a complete understanding of the meaning of informed consent. And sadly we are not there. The recent need for slutwalks and Ched Evans Vitriol against the victim have shown us how far from there we are. Also If I am totally honest I would baulk and worry terribly at my daughters heading out in tiny miniskirts and fishnet stockings and suspenders just like my own parents did with me at the height of my gothic phase (what on earth was I thinking!? I wouldn’t even dress like that for a Halloween party now!). I’m terrified that my daughters will experience forms of sexual assault (I know I have been subjected to many an unwanted grope in my lifetime, so sadly it is likely), I know if they do end up being assaulted THEY WILL ABSOLUTELY NOT BE TO BLAME BECAUSE OF WHAT THEY WERE WEARING OR THEIR BEHAVIOUR, the fault, the blame, will be entirely the perpetrator’s -for BREAKING THE LAW and not understanding and respecting that how a woman dresses or acts does not mean she is “asking for it” at all. EVER. End of.

So it turns out dear “not that kind of girl”, you are absolutely my kind of girl after all. You be any kind of girl you want to be, so long as you are happy and not breaking any laws, or deliberately breaking any hearts (accidentally doesn’t count), and I will always try to support you as best I can and I will always believe you.

Lots of love

LadyConsensualCurd

*P.S I reported the guy who threw a bottle at my head to the police and I was incredibly impressed with how seriously they took it. Turned out he possibly had form for that kind of behaviour and although ultimately no charges were brought, thank you Policewoman for pointing out that it shouldn’t matter how drunk I was or how stupid I was to go back to a strange bloke’s flat, it was his refusal to listen to me saying no that was actually the issue and could have led to criminal charges.

Dear Tampon String


Dear Tampon String,

Today you have caused hilarity, my friend informed me her 3 year old saw her tampon string in the shower. Her daughter was convinced Mummy has a balloon up there. Haha Brilliant! My friend explained it was something ladies used, and since she was happy with that level of explanation and, not wanting to scare her toddler just yet about the monthly bleeding (although her 5year old knows all about it), her Mum left it at that for the time being. Perfect age and stage appropriate sex education if you ask me.

This reminded me of when I was a toddler and saw my mum’s tampon string and was told “it’s something to do with making babies” which confused me more than anything else. I thought that a tampon was some kind of plug and when you pulled it out then the babies could start popping out again. Clearly I had a rudimentary albeit erroneous understanding of contraception from a young age!

So dear tampon string you cause a befuddlement for toddler’s everywhere. How do other mother’s explain you? As I’m breastfeeding, not a conversation I need to worry about for a good while until the old menstruation resumes but I have a modern eco dilemma, no tampon string but how the feck am I going to explain a mooncup full of blood to a toddler!? Seriously anyone got any advice for that situation?

Lots of period and discharge talking love,

LadyCurd (for once my name needs no further additions)

Dear Tampon String

Dear Sex Positive Parenting


Dear Sex Positive Parenting,

So Yesterday writing Dear Slut, I realised that “Sex Positive Parenting” is something I want to do for my kids, and it is something I have written a lot about (here, here, here and here and I have many more draft letters that need finishing off and publishing) .  I realised that there are lots of parents (many of whom are blogging friends) who are also trying to do the same.

I thought wouldn’t it be brilliant if we could set up some kind of collaborative sex positive parenting blog where we could all share experiences of all the different aspects of being a sex positive parent- share the positivity, the pitfalls, the unexpected.  I thought this would be a resource that I would want to read and to learn from but there isn’t really anything like that out there- just lots of one off blog posts about sex positive parenting, so um I set one up and it’s here:

http://sexpositiveparenting.wordpress.com/

We already have 10 contributors but I want more!  It’s early days and the name probably needed more thought (too late now- soz!), and I still have a lot to learn about collaborative blogging (I can’t change my avatar on the blog for a start- grrrr!) but I hope that over time this blog will grow as people share their ideas, their experiences, their knowledge and learning.

So if you haven’t already- please check out the blog and please join us an contribute.

Lots of love

LadySexPositiveParentCurd

Dear Makeup


Dear Makeup,

Firstly I need to start by saying I virtually never wear you. I think the last time was when 7months preggers and I was on the telly (I mean you probably should then right? I mean millions* of people might have been watching) . I probably literally only wear you once or twice a year. I just find putting you on too much of a faff and can totally cope with my bare face being seen in public. This is mainly because I’m too much of a lazy fucker to spend the required time making my face up of a morning, only to realise by midday my efforts have assumed a rather panda like look and no-body has told me, and I never look in mirrors unless washing my hands after going to the loo, so it will have often been like that for hours until I will notice. Sigh. I can’t even be bothered to wear contacts so I wear huge heavy rimmed glasses – (the bonus being they hide the dark shadows under my eyes quite nicely- who needs Touche Éclat?) Brushing my hair and teeth everyday is about as far as my beauty regime goes.

Anyhow my mum was and is exactly the same- virtually never ever wears you, but still as a kid I remember playing about with her makeup kit loads and then between 12-19 I probably wore you most days (I was a Goth so it could take a while!) until I reached my twenties and was less bothered by it all. So I was interested to read this article where PinkStinks are calling for a ban on the sale of makeup toys to the under 8’s, as I am genuinely not sure how I feel about it.

Firstly kids (boys or girls) mucking about with make-up is just something kids do. I may not have older kids but I know toddlers love it. I know Oddler was enthralled when a friend of ours came round to ours to get ready for a wedding and she got to play a bit with the make-up. TBH I felt a little bit weird about it as the friend was more putting make-up on her than anything else (but then again you wouldn’t let a 2 year old completely loose on your Chanel and other uber expensive brand make-up!) and I didn’t want my daughter “made up” as I feel that is wrong- I don’t want my girls to ever feel like they need to wear make-up in order to be attractive, because I want them to feel beautiful without it, and I worried slightly this might sow some seeds into Oddlers mind about that. But the flipside is -Is Oddler missing out by having a mummy who doesn’t have a makeup bag to cause carnage in? Well I do, but I keep it ontop of the wardrobe (shows how often I use it!) and TBH I am pondering whether I do let her play with it at some point? To me my rather redundant makeup bag is no different than buying her a set of face paints (but without the effort of buying the face paints- see I told you I was lazy). I know she will end up looking like a complete makeup monstrosity and it would be hilarious.

There is NOTHING “sexualised” about a kid of either gender daubing their face in coloured substances. Oddler adores to draw all over herself in felt tip pen! The thing is its the fucked up adults in society who are projecting onto the kids. Some women wear make up, some wear a lot of make up and little girls want to be like their mummies, and they want to do what their mummies do, they aren’t doing it to be perceived as attractive or sexy like their mothers might be, they are just doing it because its what their idol does. So it’s a bit fucked up to freak out so much about kids playing with makeup, when actually what we should maybe be freaking out about is why so many adult women are so not comfortable in their own skins that they have to cover themselves in these make up masks in order to be perceived as beautiful, and then pass on those insecurities to their kids? (As an aside it amuses me how in many bird species it is the male who is expected to be the beautiful one putting on the displays, for the dowdy brown female one to choose the best of the bunch- just look at Peacocks and Peahens for the classic example!).

Don’t get me wrong I do think kids being properly made up to look like adults is wrong (Toddler beauty queens make me shudder), and I dislike the notion of “toy makeup” so personally I wouldn’t ever buy it for the girls, but might buy them proper makeup for secondary school. I think that is the responsibility of the parents bringing up the children to be aware of some of the issues about allowing or even forcing a kid to grow up too soon, and discussing with the children what some of these issues are, and to try to bring their children up as best they can in this very strange world we now live in. I don’t think banning make up kit sales in under 8’s is really going to make much difference in the grand scheme of things, but supporting parents to develop resilience and good self esteem in their children especially the girls might?

I expect (and hope) Oddler and Omble will ultimately end up rather like me. Go a bit mad with experimenting with you as a teen and then ultimately not be that faffed because they realise you are mostly unnecessary but can be nice for the odd special occasion. If they do, I reckon I’ve done my job as a mother ok.

Lots of madeup love

Lady I Do Own Touche Éclat But I Got It In Duty Free For My Wedding Day And It’s Gone Off And Stinks Curd

P.S In case you were wondering, yes I am a total minger without makeup, but I can live with that. ;)

*by millions I probably mean my mum. Hi mum!