A single picture on Instagram told me all I need to know about Jools Oliver's parenting style
So here it is. One little picture of Jools and Jamie Oliver‘s four-year-old son Buddy Bear posted on Instagram.
He’s sat on a stylish Tripp Trapp high chair, drinking from a straw. Wearing a dress.
‘It’s the feet, hair, legs . . . and the dress #Littlebirds,’ Jools captioned it.
This gorgeous, unguarded post of her son had Daily Mail writer Sebastian Shakespeare in a flap. ‘Has he not suffered enough?’ he huffed in the paper this morning. ‘First he was saddled with the name Buddy Bear, now he has to endure the ignominy of his mother, Jools Oliver, publishing photographs of him wearing a dress online.’
I’ll try to contain my rage, I promise I will. But really?
When are we going to stop stunting our children’s creativity by insisting that they conform to 1950s gender sterotypes?
Marks & Spencer came under fire recently for its new season collection which features a collaboration with the Natural History Museum. So far so good. Except that the only dino themed PJs you could buy were for boys. The campaign imagery was shot with boys and they sit on the shopfloor very firmly in the boys’ section.
Is it any wonder that the sciences lack women among their ranks when from the age of four we’re subtly giving girls the message that dinosaurs, trains, superheros are not for them.
They have to make do with Peppa Pig (who by the way NEVER says ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ as far as I can tell) and Elsa from Frozen, who at least has a super power according to my daughter – she can freeze whole cities with her bare hands, but is all tits and hair and a teeny waist.
I have always dressed my girls in gender neutral get-up and as a result, particularly my two-year-old, who’s somewhat lacking in the barnet department, is often mistaken for a boy.
It always embarrasses the hell out of whoever calls her ‘he’ but I couldn’t care less. And I hope, neither would she. I can remember being called ‘sonny’ until I was about 13, and it didn’t do me any harm.
Sadly, since she started Reception, my other daughter Tilda, 4, is very firm, angry even, about things being too ‘boyee’ for her. Dinosaurs, trains, rockets, were all things she used to love until the Barbie-wielding girl gang at school knocked it out of her. Now she begs me for lip balm, has very specific instructions on how she wants her hair done and won’t wear jeans.
I’m hoping it’s just a phase, but it just goes to show how young they are when this gender stereotyping sets in, and that parenting can only go so far.
So, thank you, Jools, for that picture of Buddy. For being brazen in your open-mindedness.
But you’re a clever one, Mrs O. Captioning it with a hashtag for Little Bird, means hopefully you’ll sell even more of your stunning, bright, unisex collection. And if you do, maybe M&S, George, Tesco and Gap will all have to think again about the sea of pink and ocean of blue that dominates their old-school offerings.