Little O and I took a stroll down the high street this week. A stroll can evoke lots of images; two people hand in hand in the bright sunshine for example. This was not exactly one of those strolls. This was more toddler turning into big bowl of jelly everytime I tried to put her in the buggy. So I allowed her to walk, or in fact pull me along, often making a dash towards the road or into shops, whilst constantly ditching gloves/hat/boots despite the driving, bitterly cold, January drizzle.
On our walk there was the inevitable moment where she decided to investigate something tiny on the pavement and as she did so I caught sight of the travel agent's window, well lit to entice haggered people, much like myself, into paying for hugely desired holidays that they can't afford given that they have just paid for Christmas.
The advert most prominently displayed portrayed a happy family of four, laughing joyfully on the beach. The parents gazing proudly at their offspring. Perfect teeth, perfect hair, perfect nails, GORGEOUS tans, sickeningly toned tummies and not a stretch mark in sight. As I continued my drenching through town my initial thought was, 'how fake, she doesn't look old enough to be a mum.' And then I immediately told myself off for the remark. There are plenty of young mums out there, doing a damn fine job of raising their children, better in fact than some of the older parents I have been in contact with. She, of course, was old enough to be a mum. But my initial thought remained with me.
Two days later as I was faced with another similar advert while flicking through a local magazine it occurred to me WHY I had thought that. It is fake not because she looks too young, but because she doesn't look haggered enough, therefore irradiates youth and can't possibly be a mother... right?
I am proud of my figure, I was lucky to snap back into shape after my children, and escaped with no stretch marks, but I wouldn't say I look the same post kids. I will never have a washboard stomach again that's for certain. My skin is NEVER tanned. Two weeks in steamy 30 degrees last summer and I came back barely darker than when I left. Anyone with kids knows a holiday isn't exactly a 'holiday' when they come with you. You can't lie by a pool and read a book, because there is ALWAYS the danger of someone drowning. The kids inevitably get too hot so you have to spend the hottest part sheltered from the sun, and with an English Rose complexion like mine, well there is no hope. Finally, they have clearly forgotten to include the drained mummy eyes. You know, the eyes than no longer have the lustre of youth, always mildly bloodshot due to lack of sleep. The eyes that are semi made up, but not perfected, they mainly just have a ring of concealer circling in the hope of disguising the large baggage underneath.
I have to put it to the advertisers, they have no doubt hit the nail on the head. If I hadn't been quite so cynical that day I may have thought, 'oh wow I want to look like that again, I must need a holiday, that will do the trick', and that is surely the whole point. But for any advertising companies out there wanting to portray a REAL family. Look for the people struggling to remain toned in the tummy region, those with stretch marks, with dark circles and tired eyes, pale skin and a real NEED for a holiday, those my friends are parents, no matter what age or from what upbringing. Once you are one, you can spot another a mile off.