Sunday, 29 March 2015

Visiting small places when you look a bit strange

So just last week we took Reegan on her first family holiday to the little costal town of Tenby, which is in Wales. I say "family holiday" but we stayed in a caravan belonging to one of our friend's parents,  with our friends and Reegan's aunt and uncle also, so more of a friend holiday really, but we tend to count our friends as family anyway. It was soooo nice to just get away from everything,  and although I didn't really want to come home at the end of the week I have returned feeling a lot better about life in general. I have been aching to get away for months now, because I really like to travel and I love feeling like we are far away from home or in the middle of nowhere.  It gives me valuable perspective.  My kind of holiday definately isn't your average sun-sea-sand holiday most people enjoy, in fact that really isn't my idea of fun at all. I prefer to go out and DO things, like go to museums and tourist-y crap like that. Usually only if it's something historic or cultural though. Thats just my brand of nerdiness.

Anyway, what this little trip really got me thinking about was my experience of other people noticing me and how it differed from the city where I live and what I usually experience when out and about at home. I think in general us alternative types who live in or close to the city must have it a lot easier than those who live in small towns or the countryside. Obviously this idea stems only from my own experiences so I would be interested to hear what others think on this. The city I live in isn't even that large at all (you can pretty much walk around the entire centre of town without needing a car or other mode of transport at all, and a lot of people cycle everywhere) it just happens to be very culturally diverse, especially the area I live in now as opposed to where I lived four years ago. The funny thing is at home, I seem to have days where most people don't give me a second glance at all and others where it feels like literally everybody is staring and every other person I meet will stop and say they like my hair colour or something along those lines. I used to put it down to some days wearing more casual clothing or makeup and others feeling a little more gothed up, but the three years I have had unnaturally coloured hair I look abnormal even when I think I'm dressed down.

When we were on holiday even though WE were the tourists I felt as though we were the attraction (The boyfriend with the shaved head, beard and tattoos and me with my dark clothes and green hair). People stared A LOT. Most of them weren't even malicious or judgemental, just innocently gawping as if we were street entertainers or characters in costume, even the locals in the shops and bars were taken aback. I still got a lot of hair compliments though, and most of our conversations ended up being about our baby or our dog anyway. That's another thing, I think Welsh people are generally very nice, and whilst Bristolians and people from the South West can come off as grumpy we are generally a pretty tolerant people. In the UK I think Goths and alternative types face a lot more stigma in the north of England than in the south, especially judging as Manchester was the first city to truly recognise alternative subculture as a hate crime motive and make positive steps towards a solution to the problem. Although I personally would put this down as a direct result of the horrific murder of Sophie Lancaster in 2007, which I am sure you are all aware of. But what happened to her did serve as a catalyst for change,  and her mother and all those involved in the Sophie Lancaster foundation are the amazing people who drove for those changes.

So here's to them.  And to everyone who ever experienced unpleasantness because they were brave enough to be true to themselves.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Baby clothes: to Goth or not to Goth?

I'm thinking this may or may not be a controversial post, but I've been considering this topic for such a long time (since I was pregnant with Reegan and first started buying baby clothes) and finally feel like I have enough parenting experience (?!) to comment.  Whatever you do or say when it comes to parenting there are always people who agree or disagree, respectfully or not. It's a minefield.

I remember picking out a cute black party dress from a baby clothes shop when my mum was pregnant with my sister (only five years ago) and my gran flapping and saying "you CAN'T put babies in BLACK!" But then I think for her generation it's more superstition than anything else. Surprisingly though it was my gran defending me from comments made by a friend of hers when I took Reegan out for lunch with them dressed in her spiderweb baby grow.  She just turned it into a joke, saying 'can't you see the child is a goth in training?'  Haha.

Reegan at at about 2 months old

The first garment I bought for my daughter was actually brown, because we didn't discover Reegan's gender until she was born. So all of her first clothes were gender neutral, (including the gothier items) and whilst I do put her in girly clothes sometimes I still have absolutely no issue with dressing her in 'boy' clothes if I think they are cute or more practical. A lot of people I know will be surprised to see my daughter in pink dresses or frills, they make superficial judgments based on my appearance and assume that I will impose my tastes upon my child. But then, doesn't everybody? All parents dress their kids in clothes they deem aesthetically pleasing, nobody would choose to 'subject' their kids to wearing clothing they consider ugly, it's just that cute or ugly are subjective to opinion.

Sure, my daughter has her fair share of dresses. She has a decent amount of androgynous playsuits and garments,  as well as clothing from labels like Spiral Direct, slogan vests, and band 'shirts'. The latter are based upon our musical tastes as parents, therefore the ones Reegan's dad and I think of as the cutest because (lets face it) most parents like to think of their children as small cute versions of themselves.  We love the idea that they would share our passions and interests, and hope that one day they will turn out just like us, only better. The same goes for the aesthetically gothic items, many of which were gifts but I am not ashamed to admit that my own tastes greatly influence Reegan's wardrobe.

An outfit a friend also has for her son
A rare moment I got her to keep a headband on for more than three seconds...

For the most part though anything goes. Whilst I do most of the clothes shopping for her if people buy clothes for her as gifts then I will most definitely put her in them, not only out of politeness but hey,  waste not want not. More than anything the things that I want out of baby clothes are practicality.  Easy to put on, take off, wash and wear. I want my baby to feel comfortable and have some freedom of movement (I have always said I can't stand seeing babies in denim, I just think it's cruel and will refuse to put Reegan in this fabric or any similar until she is older) and look at least presentable. Another admission, yes mothers do see their children as a reflection of themselves and having a presentable child makes you feel at least adequate as a parent.  So wrong, I know.  You can't help feeling the way you do. If I can get my hands on baby clothes that I really like  then even better,  but rest assured that as soon as my daughter is able to pick her own clothing then she will be doing so.  And I actually can't wait for that part.