Very recently, a friend and I were reading an email from a soon to be Not S0 Good Friend of hers, the sort of woman who rates Eat Pray Love as a serious book. In the email, a detailed tome about how the Dalai Lama’s new self-appointed right hand saw her life, she announced big news.
“And now my special news. I am going to be a Single Mother By Choice.”
Can you see what is wrong with this sentence kids? Instead of saying “I am going to try and become a mother on my own because I really want a baby” or perhaps, “I’ve made a decision to try to have a baby” she came up with a title for it. And just so we would understand this was part of her grand plan, she wanted us to know that Single Mother alone would not do. No, this was different. She was choosing therefore she was so far above bog standard Single Mother. We know she didn’t choose since her choice would have been to have a bloke fall in love with her and marry her. So it wasn’t a choice but hey, who’s quibbling?
It was the fact that she put a label on it that amused and disgusted us in equal measure. She’s not the only one. Gwyneth Paltrow calls herself ‘Actress and Mother of Two’, a title that really should be changed to ‘Scared of Food.’
People don’t just turn up and say “Hi, I’m Bob” now, they arrive with a complex description. “I am an Artist, Yoga Lover and Loving Father.” (You will not get dirty sex from a man like that.)
Notice how also they never have a simple label; it’s always got several barrels. Frankly I’m still struggling with Actress/Model/Producer but not as much as ‘Career woman and Homemaker.’ The latter is a big favourite of mine: a subtle way of telling us she’s got it all. When I look at it, all I see is Hard Work. They can keep that one.
In the glossies it gets personal. ‘Amy is a Entrepreneur, Life Coach, Wife to Banker Charlie and Full-Time Mum to Septimus and Tyrone.’ No, Amy is full of herself. That is the problem with labels. The PR’s who perpetuate it think it makes their clients look like real people who are part of the wider world. But as our soon to be forgotten friend demonstrates, if you put a label on it, you look like the very thing you are: self-obsessed.