I was walking through a very well known clothing shop the other day when I spotted a table loaded with slogan T-shirts for young girls.
Being the mother of a young girl with a compulsion for buying her pretty clothes I stopped to have a look - and I turned on my heels and walked on as soon as I saw one T-shirt emblazoned with ‘Future Footballer’s Wife’.
I have many hopes and dreams for my daughter - not least that she will be happy and healthy. I hope she is successful at whatever she chooses to do and that she feels she can shoot for the stars and achieve whatever her heart desires.
My greatest wish for her is not that her ultimate ambition in life is to be married to some loutish eejit who kicks a ball around for a living.
I find it sad that there is a culture out there where a woman’s greatest ambition is to live the life of a z-list celebrity. That her dreams and desires centre solely around wearing Prada and Jimmy Choos and getting photographed for Heat magazine. I find it sad that some women’s ideas of success are tied up in how full their hair extensions are or how manicured their nails are.
I find it particularly sad that the culture of the WAG means that many women will put up with being treated as little more than a trophy in return for a bulging bank balance and their fifteen minutes of fame.
I’ve tried to think this one through - to ask myself if my ambitions were anyway similar when I was a little girl? Of course I wanted to be like some of the big stars of the day. I would have given my eye teeth to be Princess Leia (yes, I used to pray that I would be her best friend, I was that sad). I suppose there was a time when I wanted to be Madonna. I liked her clothes and dreamed of dancing around on a stage singing my heart out. But both these were women were, arguably, strong and positive role models. They were successes in their own right.
WAGs? Well, they just hang onto the laces of their men’s football boots.
I despair of the world my daughter is growing up in. The pressure on women to be beautiful, to appear flawless, to bag a man is more intense than it ever was in my childhood, teenage years and early adulthood.
I wonder what message she is being given by the media around her (of course I know she is too young to understand just yet, but T-shirts with such slogans show just how pervasive this dumbing down of the younger generation is). Is it really a case that a woman’s worth these days can only be measured by the effectiveness of her boob job, the amount of botox running through her forehead or the strength of the smell of the San Tropez wafting from her?
You may think I’m bitter. After all, I’m hardly the WAG type myself. I don’t have a semi-skeletal frame and when I write books I actually do it myself and don’t get someone to ghost write for me - but there is more to my objection than this.
A WAG, I would argue, is different to just being just the partner of a footballer. Being a WAG is following a culture in itself. It is about selfishness and vanity at the highest level. It is not about being a strong woman. How many times have we seen high profile WAGs have their heart trampled on by their cheating partners only to take them back for fear of losing out on the celebrity lifestyle?
Setting our children up with the notion that being a WAG is a worthy ambition is shameful. Telling our young girls that their greatest desire should be to marry someone with bags of money and live quite happily out of their bank account with no ambition to actually make anything of themselves outside of maybe launching a clothing line for a catalogue company is shocking.
I don’t expect the shops to launch t-shirts with slogans such as “future brain surgeon” or “future barrister”, but do we really have to sink so low? Do we have to stick with WAG slogans or ‘Future Shopaholic’ slogans or things which, from the earliest of ages, seem to put women in their place as silly, flighty creatures?
I’ve criticized the Pink Stinks campaign before - which wants gender specific toys in hues of pinks banned - but on this one I’m with them. They have their own WAGS t-shirts - but clearly the letters stand for Women Against Gender Sterotyping and as for their children’s t-shirts, I’ll think I’ll go with the one emblazoned with ‘Future Role Model’ for my daughter.
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