I have just had the pleasure of watching ‘What’s a Girl?’, a 30-minute film originally shown on CBBC as part of their My Life series, and available on iPlayer here (5 days left to watch!). In the film, 15-year-old Shelby sets out on a mission to find out just what is a girl? Shelby is a teenager who doesn’t like wearing skirts, reading Mizz or trying on make-up, but prefers wearing comfy jeans and a hoodie, playing football and wearing smart loafers. However, she doesn’t see herself as a ‘tomboy’ rather as ‘just a girl’. In the film, she meets different kinds of girls – some like sport, some like glitter, some like dresses and some like jeans. She challenges gender stereotypes and concludes that a girl is someone who has the courage to be herself: ‘I like being who I am.’
I loved this film and thought Shelby was inspirational. She is brave enough to swap outfits with another girl who dresses very differently to her, although she is clearly as uncomfortable wearing a dress as the other girl is wearing jeans, trainers and a hoodie. She talks to pre-schoolers about the differences between boys and girls – depressingly/predictably the girls say that ‘girls have long hair and play with princesses’ and the boys say ‘boys have short hair and play with dinosaurs’ – but Shelby at least, with her cropped hair, gets them all thinking… Her ultimate message is that it’s fine to be different, and you can be a girl and still do cool things. As the mother of a daughter I found her film uplifting and important for teenagers – and mums – to watch. There is no such thing as ‘a girl’ – you can be the girl you want to be. Thank you, Shelby, for reminding us all.
Shelby’s film got me thinking about what’s a mum? And again, I think the answer has to be someone who has the courage to be herself and not worry about what everyone else is up to. So let’s not judge other mums for their choices – whether it be to work or to not work, to make a homemade meal from scratch or to reach for a frozen pizza or get fish & chips once in a while, to drink coffee when pregnant or to not drink coffee when pregnant, to breastfeed or to bottle feed, to wean at 4 months, 5 months or 6 months, to use a dummy or to not use a dummy, to give their child organic crisps or chocolate buttons as a treat, to leave their children with the babysitter for a wild night out or to choose to want to stay at home. As Shelby says, ‘If you stick to being yourself, you’ll be alright.’ Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Be yourself. Be your own person. Trust yourself, try to banish any guilt you may be carrying around with you for whatever reason, and just focus on being the best mum you can be. After all, that’s the best kind of mum.
More recipes and gadgets soon, promise.