Sunday 22 October 2017

Louise Redknapp wants to be her own woman - what's so wrong with that?

Jamie Redknapp and Louise Redknapp attend the Retail Trust London Ball at Grosvenor House, on January 28, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
Jamie Redknapp and Louise Redknapp attend the Retail Trust London Ball at Grosvenor House, on January 28, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
Strictly Come Dancing 2016
Louise and Jamie Redknapp
Jamie Redknapp and his wife Louise arrive at the "Daily Mirror's Pride Of Britain Awards" at the London Hilton Hotel on March 15, 2004 in London
Jamie and Louise Redknapp seen out shopping for baby clothes March 31, 2004 in West London. (Photo by Paul Ashby/Getty Images)
Louise Redknapp on Strictly
Louise Redknapp attends the TRIC Awards 2017 on March 14, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Louise Redknapp and Jamie Redknapp attend Royal Ascot Ladies Day on June 17, 2010 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Stuart Wilson/Getty Images)

Chrissie Russell

It’s a tale as old as time and one our children pick up from the moment Disney enters their lives: The aspirational route of life is to find one’s prince and live happily ever after.

As adults, the theme is further driven home by Hollywood and Hello, their endless glossy images portraying couple-dome and family life as every woman’s dream The End.

Louise and Jamie Redknapp
Louise and Jamie Redknapp

But what happens when the fairytale isn’t fulfilling?

The horrific criticism faced by Louise Redknapp for ‘turning her back’ on her fairytale marriage is illustrative of just how uncomfortable much of society is with women who stray from a very prescriptive narrative.

To all intents and purposes Redknapp’s life – an attractive footballer husband, two lovely kids, the occasional moment on telly – embodied our perceptions of the modern fairy princess. But in revealing that she wanted more, the 42-year-old has morphed from hero to villain.

Popular media abounds with images of ‘miserable’ and ‘gutted’ Jamie, who has been ‘left’ to look after (his) children as his wife of 20 years dares to pursue her neglected career and make new, young (!) friends. 

After years of making sure she’d dinner on the table and the school run in hand, mummy Redknapp has taken to the stage in Caberet in skimpy outfits and, from the beam on her face in promotional photos, it looks like she is absolutely loving it.

So why is everyone so up in arms? It’s terrifying that the same old themes – of women not confining to stereotypical ideals of femininity – should cause as much hysteria now as hundred odd year’s ago when Chopin’s The Awaking was published or Woolfe was extolling the needs of a room of one’s one. 

Strictly Come Dancing 2016
Strictly Come Dancing 2016

Louise Redknapp hasn’t turned her back on her marriage and maintains she still loves her husband. She has never said she doesn’t want to be a mum and both Charley (13) and eight-year-old Beau know their mum hasn’t gone anywhere. She simply wants the room of her own, the space to be herself.

Isn’t that a powerful message that we should be celebrating? The former Eternal singer told the Telegraph’s Stella Magazine: “I have spent most of my life pleasing everyone else, worrying about being judged and thinking I should always do the right thing by staying at home looking after my kids and my husband. I lost myself.”

Surely instead of chastising her we should be applauding her for having the self-awareness to recognise a problem and the bravery to do something about it? That, instead of sitting silently suffering, she’s chosen to speak out and say that it’s ok to want to be more than mum or a Mrs, that your own happiness matters and you are the one who can make it happen rather than relying on other people?

Redknapp is calling time on the myth of a dated fairytale ending and choosing to write her own new chapter and frankly, that’s the story I’d rather our kids hear. 

Jamie and Louise Redknapp seen out shopping for baby clothes March 31, 2004 in West London. (Photo by Paul Ashby/Getty Images)
Jamie and Louise Redknapp seen out shopping for baby clothes March 31, 2004 in West London. (Photo by Paul Ashby/Getty Images)

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