Since the advent of our Lean In collection, we’ve been challenging the world to re-picture the visual stereotypes around women. Our weekly ‘Leaning In’ series sparks discussion around traditional concepts associated with gender.
I’m bored. Bored of seeing only women cleaning and cooking in advertising. Bored of seeing the same image of a smiling mother and child in a nursery (google mother and you’ll see what I’m talking about). Bored of seeing family life depicted almost as it was fifty years ago. Times have changed. Why don’t we see it?
A firm believer in shared family responsibilities, I find it so refreshing that the Getty Images Lean In collection illustrates modern family life so authentically. Mothers and Fathers with interchangeable roles; women at work, fathers at home and vice versa.
As the daughter of working parents, I can honestly say I never once wished for the alternative. However, it did seem that my mother had the added difficulty of balancing extra responsibilities at home, on top of a job.
Seeing a new visual movement does give me hope for future mothers who want to continue careers and fathers who want more family time. I certainly don’t want to enter into parenthood feeling like my choices are wrong just because there’s an alternative. I’m so thankful for the gifts I received from my own mother, who chose to do it her way.
I am grateful for the solid work ethic instilled in me. As a registered nurse, my mother worked shifts and often pulled all-nighters. She would then pick kids up from school (if she finished work early), make a meal that sometimes went unappreciated and got up early to make lunches before hitting the traffic again to get to work. She would make cakes at 1am, do laundry at 5am and much to my chagrin as a teenager, the vacuuming at 10am on a Saturday morning.
I appreciate the independence gifted to me. She has shown me passion, determination and ambition and inspires me every day through the meaning she finds in her vocation. As a nurse, mum could sometimes be unforgiving when it came to our own illnesses. She was always there when needed of course, but it was her way of fortifying my siblings and me for the real world; which she saw every time she went to the hospital.
I value that in the familiar way parents teach, she shared her skills with me, bestowing on us the knowledge to be self-sufficient and to be able to care for others just as she did. Just as well she did, for, as a klutz, there has been more than one occasion I’ve had to use that medical knowledge.
I’m not a mother (yet), but I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, an aunt, a godmother and a colleague. These lessons are valued not because my mum worked, but because she was a parent. The debate of life as a working mum vs. stay-at-home mum has been raging for quite some time, but, disappointingly most of where the battle rages is amongst women themselves. I am by no means entering into this debate myself – except to say, enough is enough.
Time to start re-picturing mothers in a different light and time to start supporting one another – as parents. My friends, colleagues and my family are all evidence that whether you’re working or not – it just works. Time to lean into parenthood, community and start empowering each other.Explore the Lean In collection on Getty Images