Thursday 19 October 2017

'We want to be supermums not supermodels' - Irish mothers on the pressure to look good

Lisa Fitzpatrick, Amy Huberman and Kate O'Connell.
Lisa Fitzpatrick, Amy Huberman and Kate O'Connell.
Kim Kardashian
Aoife Coogan
Lisa Fitzpatrick
Kate O'Connell
Pippa O'Connor
Amy Huberman

Joyce Fagan

Every so often the 'sloppy tracksuit' remark gets thrown around in relation to women and motherhood.

This time it was Pippa O'Connor Ormond (31) that said it. Her words were printed on Mother's Day and the debate around it ran into today, International Women's Day.

"There is no excuse for someone not to have their hair washed. Or to be in a sloppy tracksuit. It's going to take the same amount of time to put on a pair of nice jeans and some flat boots, so it's about making a conscious effort," she said in an interview.

Some met her words with anger, others met them with humour. We spoke to high-profile Dublin mums about the pressure to look good in motherhood - stylist Lisa Fitzpatrick, journalist June Shannon, newly-elected Fine Gael TD Kate O'Connell - and also examined how other celebrity mums ­- Amy Huberman, Kim Kardashian and ex-model Aoife Cogan - have handled their transition into motherhood.

Pippa O'Connor
Pippa O'Connor

June Shannon and her husband Tony Curtis are now proud parents to Clodagh, who's six-months-old - but only after six years of trying for a baby, which included a miscarriage and rounds of IVF. For June, she hasn't given her wardrobe a second's thought over the last six months.

"It doesn't feature at all [on my priorities list] what I wear," she says. "I had a c-section so for the first few weeks I wore tracksuit bottoms because they were more comfy. I don't think it matters what you wear.

June Shannon
June Shannon

"For us, when we were lucky enough to have a baby, I haven't even thought about it, what I wear, in the last six months. As long as she's cared for and fed and happy - that's all I think about."

June adds that it is often women who put themselves under these extra pressures to look a certain way, when all that matters is that you are taking care of yourself.

Aoife Coogan
Aoife Coogan

"We put ourselves under so much pressure, we don't need other women weighing in saying how we should look or what we should look like.

"As long as you mind yourself, and it's hard to mind yourself in the throes of a newborn, getting enough sleep and everything, but your priorities are different when you become a mum, so the last thing you worry about is what you wear, I think," she says.

Kate O'Connell
Kate O'Connell

One mum who styles people for a living and dispenses much sought-after fashion advice, both here and abroad, is Lisa Fitzpatrick (44). She dresses only for herself and has no time for negativity.

"From my perspective, I worked Friday, I was in Cork and Killarney and came off after Mother's Day and today I'm off," says Lisa.

"Today, for me, is house jobs and I'm in a tracksuit bottoms and I'm in a lovely top, my skin is clean and fresh and full of moisturiser - it's great not having make-up on.

"I'm in black Nike runners, black and pink tracksuit bottoms, a loose top and a really nice casual bomber jacket.

Lisa Fitzpatrick
Lisa Fitzpatrick

"I'm bombing around doing a million jobs on my day off, feeling really comfortable.

"I look good and I feel good, my skin is clean and my hair is fresh."

The celebrity stylist advocates kindness above everything else.

"I have no interest in somebody saying something that's going to damage someone, that's going to be mean, that's going to be unkind. I think be kind to one another," she adds.

"If somebody wants to go out wearing no make-up because they don't want to wear it, it's their prerogative, it's their choice and who am I to dictate? I know what suits me.

"I know I've good days and bad days, all kinds of days and how dare anyone question me about how I feel about how I look. I am what I am and who I am." Lisa believes new mums with a baby should just wear what they want to wear.

In terms of women in general commenting on other women's appearance, she wants to call a halt to it.

"Stop talking negative. If you've nothing good to say, say nothing at all. It's so awful to say something negative about someone and how dare you."

In terms of celebrities, both here and abroad, that go their own way in the motherhood style stakes, we've Amy mum-of-two Huberman's book to take a leaf out of.

Amy posted a photo to Instagram last year, five months after giving birth to her son Billy. It received some negative comments and so she deleted the image.

"I'm a bit of a newbie to Insta (Instagram) but I deleted a pic because it was all getting a bit 'post-baby body' commentary. Which is a bit boring and silly really, isn't it? There's more important things to life. Like towels with eyes," she said.

Former model Aoife Cogan has always been known for her bohemian style, even on her wedding day to Gordon D'arcy.

So when it came to pregnancy, she stayed true to her own fashion tastes then too.

International social media mogul Kim Kardashian mightn't be what you'd call an average role model, but when it comes to dressing her bump, she never shied away from showing it to the world.

Online Editors

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