Vivienne Westwood made some extremely harsh statements about working mothers. She seems to believe that women who leave their children in the care of others to have a career are simply selfish. Looking back, the fashion designer believes she made the wrong choice when it comes to working when her kids were little. Her statements make me wonder, which aspect of her life would Westwood choose to go back and change? Does she wish that she had never worked her tail off to create a successful global fashion empire? Or would she rather have not had children at all?
When speaking with The Independent in a wide-ranging interview, Vivienne said this about the state of mothers today.
“I’ve got people here in this company who pay as much to the baby minder as they earn at work. Because they’d rather work than look after their child. But I think they have to really think about what they’re doing.”
After the interviewer rightly mentioned that Westwood herself worked while raising a family, the designer responded by saying,
“I know and I was a terrible mother. I didn’t put my children first. You have to work today to make money but my mother didn’t have to and we managed.”
It’s hard to respond to a woman who says that she was personally a terrible mother so obviously other women who work must be terrible as well. There’s really no logical comeback to that type of statement. But I do think that it raises an important question, especially when it comes from such a successful woman.
If Vivienne Westwood wants modern mothers to choose between a career and parenthood, if she thinks that we aren’t capable of handling both, which direction should she have gone in? With all this hindsight, shouldn’t she be able to tell us whether she should’ve stuck to clothes or childrearing?
It’s easy to tell a woman that they can’t do both well. It’s easy to say that the juggle is too hard. It’s more difficult to tell women that they need to give something up. The fact is, most modern moms aren’t given that option. Most families need two incomes to support their children. If that makes us terrible, I would love to hear what the other options are.
If Vivienne Westwood ever reads this, I’d like her to know that plenty of us mothers are thinking about what we’re doing. We’re worrying and stressing every time we hear criticism from someone like you, someone who should understand how hard this is, as to whether or not we’ve made the right life choices. But the fact is that for most of us, staying home is no longer an option. And for others, they find a way to keep their children as a priority and still build a career. It’s not easy and they aren’t perfect, but they definitely aren’t terrible either.
And if you’re going to say that women shouldn’t have children and careers, you better be willing to tell us which one you would give up personally. If you’re asking us to make that impossible decision, you should think about it yourself for a while first.
(Photo: Will Alexander / Stuart Castle / WENN.com)