I’ve known my mum for 24 years:
12 years alive. 2 years ill. 10 years dead. 10 years today, infact.
July 6th 2007 at somewhere around 2pm - I was sat on a bench eating pick and mix with my cousin, and my mother-daughter relationship changed again, forever.
There’s a lot of things I don’t know about my mum. There’s a lot of things I can’t know. 10 years is a long time to stay exactly the same, maybe she’d have changed? We’d definitely have changed, I’m not a raging force of hormones anymore. I’d hazard a guess that our relationship would be easier now.
Here’s what I do know about my mum - I always wanted to be her, I still want to be her, but I could never work out how. My mum was calm, kind, content and introverted. I’m loud, opinionated and an introvert living a pretty extroverted existence that’s been masking a lot of pain. That’s all changed - I’ve worked out how.
I never saw a place in the world for feminism, because of my mum. She commanded her space and no one could argue with that, especially not men. I now realise there’s a world outside of my mum, I’ve been living it for 10 years. But still for a long time I couldn’t really align my thoughts to a feminist movement. In my childhood I’d never experienced male dominance, so I grew up not considering it to be an issue in my environment - that actually lead me into some pretty dangerous situations, but that’s another blog.
My mum only wore makeup if she wanted to, only shaved if she wanted to, only dressed up if she wanted to, only smiled if she wanted to. Most of the time she didn’t want to - except the smiling, she had a lot to smile about - and that was okay.
It didn’t matter. Not to her, not to me, not to my dad, not to anyone else. Imagine just being yourself and that’s okay? Turns out, it’s a thing! She had her insecurities, but I only discovered this from a diary entry in 1985 that said ‘I feel fat today’. The next day - she’d smashed a job interview. The day after - she was excited because she’d painted the lounge. And she didn’t feel fat enough again in 1985 to diarise it.
Aside from all of this, she took my ridiculous teenage, life defining insecurities in her stride. She let me wear makeup, shave, dress up and all the rest of it. She didn’t make a big fuss of it, it was okay to be me. She knew that wouldn’t be forever, and I know she wished that she’d get to see that weight lift from me as I got older. She didn’t get to see that. But she’s the sole reason that I can sit here now, 10 years on, and say that I’ve achieved what I always wanted. I feel more my mum now than I’ve ever felt.
My mum left a mark on me that I never even realised until a year ago, she was an ugly girl. Being an ugly girl is one of the most important and definitive things about me.
When Hillary came to me a year ago with our manifesto, everything clicked. This is how the feminist movement represents me. This is where I see inequality in our society, this is the solution that I want to bring to the table. When we talk about my mum we very rarely comment on her appearance. Beauty is a given, but she brought so much more than that to the world. Yes, we may only cover a very small part of what it is to be a female. But it’s allowed me to reconnect with a woman I was scared to lose, and allowed me to connect with women I’d never have met. I feel empowered. This is exactly why feminism is important, I haven’t felt alone since we started.
Equality for EVERYONE starts from within and radiates outwards. Alyson Barbara Leverton left the greatest of legacies. Command Your Space.