Stereotyping…

We saw Black Swan a couple of days ago and Oh My Holy Cow, it was sensational. If you are looking forward to watching it and are expecting a beautiful ballet biopic with tutus and gorgeous costumes galore that tells the story of a tortured soul who just wants to dance…. that’s not what you’re going to get. It’s a harrowing and tense tale that, at times, is such uncomfortable watching you could find yourself peeking through your hands/cardigan/husband’s coat. If you can tear your eyes from the phenomenal Natalie Portman, that is. I don’t think it gives anything away to tell you that when it ended, there was 15 seconds of absolute silence and I then heard at least 3 other people murmur a variation of what Phil turned to me and said…

‘Our daughter is NEVER becoming a ballerina!’

It was said in half-jest, to break the tension and the silence-it was ridiculously tense in the room and the complete quiet upon the film’s end was unsettling to say the least…but as we wandered back to the car I realised that in my daydreams and at night, Stella* IS  a ballerina and Henry* IS a rugby player-shock horror, I have succumbed to the simplest of gender stereotyping! In all future dreams, day or otherwise, I promise to vary Stella and Henry’s pursuits-maybe Henry wants to be a ballerina?!

I’m one of these irritating adults who blames my mother for the fact I’m not an olympic gymnast/figure skater/shotputter, when in fact I was the irritating child who had the concentration span of a dog at a duck pond. Whatever classes my friends were taking, I definitely needed to enrol on and this next class will definitely be the one that I stay in forever! As a result I am a vaguely proficient gymnast, synchronised swimmer, ice-skater and flautist-I’m pretty good at a few things but not really good at one. And do you know what? I’m ok with that now. I still turn green with envy watching gymnasts on TV, or watching a full orchestra perform but it’s healthy envy rather than ‘Muuuum you RUINED my LIFE!’ envy. I think my parents had the right idea letting me try my hand at lots of activities, I think that if I was meant to be an olympic gymnast  a) I wouldn’t have gotten bored after I learnt to do a backflip (I was convinced once I could do that, I could do anything!) and b) I would have, at some point, shown an incredible natural aptitude for the sport. Which I didn’t.

To bring this rather roundabout rantage to a conclusion, after discussing at length the ways in which we could make sure our ballerina son or daughter didn’t turn out like Nina from Black Swan, Phil and I decided that if we’re lucky enough to have Little Ones, they can try (within reason!) whatever activities they’d like. Girl or boy, sport or music, whatever. And if they’re not the next Darcey Bussell or David Beckham, that’s ok. Because it only matters that you always learn and that you are happy to be yourself. Which Nina DEFINITELY wasn’t.

*Yes, Stella and Henry are the names we’ve chosen for our Little Ones . No, I’m not pregnant. Or crazy. Nor do I assume we will be lucky enough to ever be gifted with a Stella or a Henry. But it’s healthy to dream, no?

Categories: Family, Friends and Relationships, Life Experience
6 interesting thoughts on this

6 Comments

  1. Posted January 20, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    If I see this film…will it change my mind about choosing Nina as one of our names….? Like you, I did a bit of lots of hobbies. I never really excelled at these but I did enjoy being allowed to try.

    I plan to live my life through my children just like everyone else does! Resistance is futile. I don't mean in a horrible pushy parent way – I just want the best for them (yes, even though they too don't exist yet)

    x

  2. Posted January 20, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    I have heard some interesting stuff about this movie – I have to admit I am not really a fan of Natalie Portman, but maybe it's worth giving her another go.

    I think with children that you do need to have the strength to be themselves, do to otherwise will end in tears.

  3. Posted January 21, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    We have baby names too, fear not, we can be mad together x

  4. Posted January 21, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Oh I ALWAYS wanted to be a ballerina, and still wish I was. I never learnt proper ballet (until I was 22 when I started adult classes), instead going to a generic 'dance' school in my village where I learnt to plie at most. But in my head, when I 'grow up', I'll still be a ballet dancer, despite being in my late 20s, and the fact I'm 5'11.

    (Yes I'm aware I've just highly embarassed myself on tinterweb)

    Having said all this, my parents never pushed me to do anything except work hard at school, and I'm very very glad of this.

  5. Posted January 21, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Ok…now I really want to see Black Swan. Am going to have to find some way of getting it to me here in Russki land. As we're talking of good films, I also highly recommend The Kings Speech, mainly because it's a marvelous film, but also a little bit because I have a crush on Colin Firth. What?!

    And yup – I too was the irritating child with the attention span of a gnat. I tried pretty much everything, and excelled at pretty much nothing, until I found horses, and that kind of stopped me in my tracks. Pure luck though – without them I would still be wandering aimlessly looking for a hobby now. Totally going to let my kids try anything they want (but maybe I'll give them a little push them towards horseys as their first thing to try?! Wait. Scrap that. Horseys are expensive. Maybe table tennis or something instead.)

  6. Posted January 21, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    There was no danger of me turning into a ballerina despite ballet lessons – gentle as an elephant. Moved on to horse riding – hoping that our possible children don't want to do horse riding – too expensive and probably rather scary for a parent.

    Want to see this film.

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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