22nd October 2016- 4 yr old girl blows raspberries at mum. Mum shouts “STOP THAT!! Little girls do not do that!!!”
Mum asks 4 yr old girl what colours she would like her nails to be painted. The girl says she would like them turquoise. Mum says “you’re not having them torquoise when you are looking pretty all in white. Why don’t you have pink or yellow?”
23rd October 2016- Friend tells me of an incident at nursery when a father came to pick his son up and saw him wearing a dress-up dress. The dad became aggressive and caused a scene. The mum later on messaged her to apologise about the dad’s behaviour and said to allow her son to play in it if he wanted to and she would give her a heads up if he would be coming to pick the son up.
25th October 2016- I deliberately head to some toy stores to look at the toys and the displays. I take lots of photos and take one of a science set called ‘Neon Science!’ A man picks it up and says to one of his children that one of the others would “really like this as she is into science and that. Neon Science! And it has all the girly stuff too. Neon nails and that”.
29th October 2016- I help facilitate a printing workshop as part of Manchester Science Festival. The security guard sits his son down to make a print with me. He tells him exactly how and where to draw the lines and is frustrated when the boy hesitates as to what to draw next. The dad tells him to use his head, tapping him on the head. He tells him he will be over soon to see what he has done. He leaves and the boy is flummoxed and what to draw. He starts to draw very self consciously and small.
A little while later, the photographer is around the workshop and takes some photos. He takes one of the same little boy and he looks up to see him and instantly strikes a pose to flex his bicep muscles. The photographer laughs and he strikes another, this time clenching one fist into the other. This whole scenario made me feel sad.
Another little boy sits with us to draw with his mum and his younger brother. They engage for a long time not getting bored although the printing veered away from the Peppered moth fairly quickly and became more experimental. The elder boy makes a print and writes on it ‘swagger is power’.
Later on in the evening I was at an engagement party. The conversation had turned to children and a friend talks about how her 9yr old daughter wants to wear a belly top. She says this makes her feel uncomfortable as even though she isn’t fat, she still doesn’t have the figure for it. I am shocked and say maybe it is best for her to be confident in whatever she wants to wear and I genuinely don’t see how her daughter could be seen as too big for one. She explains she thinks they are tacky anyway and would rather steer her in a direction of what would suit her as she feels you have to be stick thin to wear one. I say again I feel like her confidence should be encouraged and she says that maybe it is different for me cause I don’t have to protect anyone. ( I don’t have children). She says she remembers how mean people were to her and she wouldn’t want people to make her daughter feel that way. I try to remind her that she knows of my childhood experiences, but she cuts me off and carries on speaking to my partner about how she feels. I walk away.
4th November 2016- (not child related) I am doing a clients hair and she is talking about a 32yr old woman she cares for with learning disabilities. She tells me how attractive she is and how it is such a shame. The night before, she had showered her down and she noticed that no one had been taking care of her shaving so she took it upon herself to shave her underarms and down below. I asked her whether her underarm hair was bothering her at all or irritating her. She said no, she didn’t seem bothered by it.