Gillette – The Best A Man Can Get?

{Also features on The M Word}

Let’s start by stating the obvious about all publicity – generally speaking it’s probably safe to say that all publicity ends up as good publicity, true?

It certainly seems to be true for Gillette anyway, who have managed to get the world talking about their recent ad which aims to wipe out sexism and promote equality. Taking phrases like ‘boys will be boys’ and highlighting how boys should be boys, but just respectful ones.

I’ve written about this topic before – here and here – it’s a topic I feel strongly about especially in relation to the fact that I am raising two boys, and I will be doing my level best to make sure they feel equal to everyone else. I think Feminism is assumed that it’s something only for girls, that it’s only girls who need to be taught that they can be anything or do anything, but boys need to know that this is also NORMAL – they should not feel like they’re doing anyone a favour by agreeing to that, or allowing it, it should just be as normal to them as it is to know that they too can do whatever they put their minds to without gender playing a part.

So with that in mind – I love the ad. I think the message it portrays is completely accurate, and completely necessary. The #MeToo movement IS happening, boys ARE taught that they shouldn’t display emotions, and most importantly, if you KNOW something is wrong you should ABSOLUTELY stand against it, even amongst your peers. Especially amongst your peers! I really hope I can teach my sons to be able to do this, to have the courage to do it because of course it wouldn’t be an easy thing to do. I’ve seen comments online where, I suppose it’s coming from a place of feeling threatened, men are unhappy with the idea as if it’s about something being taken away from them, rather than being given to all of us.

Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

However.

There’s a definite conflict happening here from Gillette. As much as I like their ad, and think well done Gillette, you’ve risked alienating a massive proportion of your audience and customers here for a really important and necessary cause, (for publicity let’s not forget) but let us also not forget that women grow hair too, and therefore, women might also want to use your products. Gillette might be more associated with men as a male brand, but they of course realise that women don’t naturally have bare legs and bare armpits and bare anything else and so they market at us too.

And here’s the conflict – if they’re all about feminism and equality then why are their products for women all in the typical pink, feminine, soft wishy-washy colours? And worse, why are they all priced higher than the same products for men? This happens across almost any product that is sold to both men and women, so it’s hardly a surprise, but when you’re shouting so loudly about how you’re all for equality, then maybe actions speak louder than words!

Let’s take a look to prove my point. This morning I went on to one of the main supermarket chains website and searched for Gillette. First up is shaving gel.

Gillette – The Best A Man Can Get is a hefty discount
  • Aimed at Women – Satin Care Sensitive Skin Shaving Gel – €1.44 per 100ml
  • Aimed at Men – Classic Sensitive Skin Shaving Gel – €1.25 per 100ml

Hmm. Next up is razor blades –

I think we can tell which is aimed at men and which one is aimed at women. One is €1.98 per blade and the other is €3.00 per blade..!!!

It’s not shocking because it’s not new, and yet it is shocking because it’s just sickening. And yet, it clearly works because women are obviously spending more money on the same product just because it says the word ‘satin’ or because it’s a nice colour, and basically because the marketing is working and convincing us that our hairs shave differently to men’s hairs do. This problem occurs across lots of products – even to pens..!

So on the one hand, Gillette need to do as they say really and for me to be completely impressed, stop charging women higher prices for sexist reasons. On the other hand, the ad does attempt to teach a very important and necessary lesson, and we can only hope that in the end feminism and equality are the real winners out of it all.

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The Day We Went To Zog’s House

This post is a collaboration with, and is sponsored by Chill.ie

I was given the opportunity recently to take a look at these e-books, put together by Chill Car Insurance which gather together a collection of suggested places to drive to within Ireland. They group them into categories such as, ‘Ireland’s Most Beautiful Drives’, and ‘Hidden Drives Ireland’, and even one with helpful tips on driving in the winter.

One of the books, Irish Cultural Drives, which has a section of suggested places to bring the family, includes places like Dublin Zoo, or the Doolin Caves. But actually, when I spotted The Rock of Cashel listed under the cultural section, it inspired me to bring the boys there and make it a day of adventure for them.

We had never been before, and it just so happens that one of Rian’s favourite books is Zog, by the author of The Gruffalo. Zog is a dragon who goes to dragon school and learns all the basics of being a dragon, like flying and breathing fire, and rescuing princesses from castles… and what better place to hunt for Zog than the Rock of Cashel?

His little face when we told him where we were going….eyes lit up, and the questions came fast. ‘Will Zog be there? Will we see him? Does he fly up high? WIll Princess Pearl be there too?’

It was an easy sell. If there’s one thing I’ve realised recently is that at this age (four and two), they really don’t care where we are, or where we go, as long as they can come too. Whether it’s a trip to the shop to do the weekly grocery shop, or a walk around the block, or our favourite walk in the woods, they really don’t care. Obviously I love to see them outside and running around as much as possible, especially this time of year when the weather isn’t great, so this was a good chance for us to go somewhere new.

When we got there, as expected on an overcast, cold day in  January, it wasn’t too packed with tourists which we were glad of. Rian spotted the castle as we drove into the town of Cashel – ‘I SEE THE CASTLE MAM!!’ There was no sign of Zog yet though, so we decided after the hour long drive to go for a bite to eat first in Cashel as I’m pretty sure it’s harder to find dragons on an empty stomach.

After a delicious lunch in a cafe called Bowes & Co (highly recommend a visit here!) , off we went to The Rock.

After a bit of a confusing and unnecessary loop around Cashel town centre – twice! – before we eventually found the right turn, we parked the car and walked up the hill. Rian was on constant lookout for Zog… so far though no luck. I started to wonder how he’d take it when it turned out we weren’t actually going to see him, and was wondering about just how clever I actually was, when we got inside and the OPW staff member greeted us.

‘Excuse me, is Zog here?’

Straight in, no messing around. The OPW lady, whose name was Julie-Anne, looked slightly confused. ‘Ehhmmm… hmm. Let me see…’ and she looked at me for guidance, looking slightly panicked! ‘Zog is our favourite dragon from one of our favourite books… we were wondering if he’s home at the moment?’

Full credit to Julie-Anne. Without skipping a beat she said ‘OHHH Zog? Yes Zog lives here! Come over here and I’ll show you where his bedroom is’.

She led us into the main part of the ruin. ‘Look up there, do you see those windows high up? That’s Zog’s bedroom’

Rian’s little face couldn’t believe that we were actually where Zog lives. Susan showed him various things, like if you look out this window here, sometimes you can see him whizzing by, but he flies so fast sometimes you can’t always see.

‘So is he home then?’ The moment of truth. Julie-Anne looked at her watch. ‘ oh no, not at this time, he’d be out looking for his dinner now’.

I looked at Rian wondering how he’d take the news.

‘Oh right no problem, maybe we’ll see him tomorrow then!’ And that was that!

We spent another half an hour or so just walking around and taking in the beautiful views, even on a dull grey day. The kids were able to run around themselves without making too much noise, full of adventure and wonder, something that I hope lasts forever but of course it probably won’t.

But maybe some of the magic will always linger regardless, memories of the day we went to Zog’s House.

The Time Is Now

When Rian was born, I used to hold him as a tiny baby during those long sleepless nights of feeding and think about what sort of little boy he’d be, what sort of teenager he’ll turn into, and what sort of man he’ll grow up to become. Back then, each stage seemed like light years away from those daunting newborn and baby stages. There’s something about being up in the depth of a long night feeding a baby that makes you feel like you’re the only person in the world awake at that time. There were many hours spent wondering and making plans, thinking of all the ways I wanted to make sure that Rian, and then of course Alex, had the best childhood memories I could possibly give them.

Earlier this evening when Gavin arrived home from work, I took the opportunity to leg it for a quick shower (translation; I just wanted a few minutes to myself after a busy day with the boys!). While drying my hair and thinking of the jobs I want to get done tomorrow, Christmas Eve, it suddenly dawned on me, that the first stage has arrived. Holding a newborn Rian, and imagining the magic of future Christmases, it seemed so far away then. But here we are. It probably sounds ridiculously obvious but I realised properly today that this is it!

It’s time to start putting it all into action now, all the things I thought I wanted to do right back at the start.

Rian is four now, the first year he really fully gets it, the magic and excitement of it all. Now is the time to start the traditions they’ll grow up and remember with nostalgia. If we do our job correctly they won’t really remember the toys –  well, maybe the ‘big’ ones, maybe they year they get a bike will stand out! But I want them to remember the things we did, and the people we did them with.

I want to start these traditions and create enough memories and nostalgia so that when they think of Christmas it’s something that they feel.

And suddenly, rather than it being a plan for further down the road, the time is now.

Tomorrow might be the first Christmas Eve he’ll remember for the rest of his life! The more I think about it the more I realise it’s a big responsibility, being responsible for childhood memories…but now that it’s here, I can’t wait to get going! 

It’s all systems go. I have the Christmas cookie cutters ready to go, ready and waiting to make cookies to lay out for Santa tomorrow night. We’ll bake and decorate some tomorrow and choose the best of the crop to leave out for the main man’s arrival. We have fresh carrots, ready to choose the juiciest one for Rudolph. We’ll probably leave a glass of milk for Santa, (which may or may not be replaced with some Guinness which I suspect Santa might be more in the mood for…!), but don’t worry, an empty milk glass will be replaced for inspection on Christmas morning to make sure Santa got the appropriate refreshments for his big night! 

We have the Christmas Eve box ready to be filled, with new pajamas, some hot chocolate ingredients, one or two little surprises, and of course, The Night Before Christmas which will be read right before we go to sleep, nice and early of course.

Most importantly we have planned visits over the coming days of family and friends, meals to share, games to play, and laughs to be had. Music will be playing, presents will be opened, food and drink will be eaten and enjoyed, and I hope more than anything, memories will be made. Smells, sounds, tastes and feelings of magic and excitement, all mixing together and embedding themselves within these two little boys, hopefully to last a lifetime.

‘May they never be too grown up to search the skies every Christmas Eve…’ – the time.. is now.


 

 

Elf on The Shelf – Thanks, But No.

{Also published on The M Word }

People who know me, know that I love Christmas. Actually, it’s the run up to Christmas that I particularly love – the planning, the choosing of gifts, the atmosphere and the excitement. I even have a ‘wrapping theme’ every year where I’ll carefully choose what paper and accessories I use to wrap my presents! Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous but I love it. Once all the shopping is done, I’ll pick an evening and put on a Christmas movie and sit on the floor in the sitting room and happy wrap and stick and accessorise with ribbons and bits of holly etc – according to the theme of course!

And it’s even better now with our two boys, Rian has just turned four and this is the first year where he’s really getting a good concept of Santa, and the excitement of it all, it already feels magical. Seeing it through their eyes again is as good as seeing it new myself, all the memories of my own childhood Christmasses. When I look back at them, for the most part I don’t really even remember what the toys were, I just remember the magic of it all. Being so sure we could hear Rudolph landing on the roof, holding up the half chewed carrot the next morning in wonder that THE Rudolph and really ACTUALLY TOUCHED this carrot!! Amazing!

Why am I telling you all this? Well, to illustrate that this is the sort of Christmas person I am – a certified Christmas fanatic. So with that in mind, I even surprise myself a bit by not buying into the whole idea of the Elf on the Shelf.

Why? Well, for a couple of reasons.

First up – he just looks creepy. There’s nothing appealing about it to me at all – he looks like a doll you’d see in a horror movie. The way he’s kind of looking to the side with that odd little smile… it’s unnerving! I don’t like the look of him. He doesn’t evoke a cutesy image of a typical Santa elf, elves are usually more cuddly looking or something aren’t they? Kind of like Doc from the seven dwarfs…? Anyone…?! No, just me then…! Regardless, this fella definitely looks like he’s up to no good.

Which brings me to my second reason. That’s probably the whole point, looking like he’s up to no good. The idea is that he gets moved around each night, and gets up to mischief, so the kids will wake up and find him somewhere new, and of course I can see how that’s exciting and magical for them, of course I do.

But the effort!

I’m all about Christmas magic and excitement but the thought of having to come up with 24 different imaginative things for this elf to do,and then on top of all the other jobs we have already to have to remember each night to carry it out… it just isn’t something that screams fun to me.

My third reason, is that I really don’t need to spend all of December, whenever I open Facebook, to have to scroll through all the elves who have spent their nights throwing breakfast cereal all over the kitchen floor,or rubbing toothpaste all over the bathroom mirror – or getting stuck in toilet bowls or whatever hilarious situation he might find himself in!

However, for me, the main reason I don’t like it is that some kids are told that the whole purpose of the elf is that he keeps an eye on things, and can report back to Santa if behaviour isn’t up to scratch. Similar to the ‘Santa Cam’ CCTV setup, it basically tells the kids that they’re being watched constantly, and if they put one step out of line, Santa will hear about it.

That whole concept just doesn’t sit well with me – I don’t want the boys associating Santa with any form of anxiety for any reason whatsoever. I don’t want to essentially threaten them that if they’re not good boys then Santa won’t arrive. I don’t like the idea that they couldn’t be their normal selves at home for fear of an elf watching them…!

Of course I’m fully aware that Santa himself allegedly watches you… ‘ he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake’, as the song happily tells us each year. But I stand by my opinion of the elf –there’s something more final or concrete, or just basically more certain with an actual physical elf (albeit inanimate!) sitting on a shelf, watching you and reporting you, with his weird sideways beady little eyes looking off knowingly as if to say, ‘ I just saw that, and I’m gonna tell on you!’

No thanks.

So there’ll be no elf on our shelves this year, or any other year. Bah Humbug? Maybe… maybe I’m not all about Christmas as much as I like to think! But one thing I know is I’ll be glad when I’m falling into bed at the end of a long day, and won’t be having a last minute panic about having forgotten to move some creepy looking elf into some non-hilarious magical position of mischief!

To Rian, who is F O U R!

{Part 2 of 2}

Monday 3 November, 2014

You were due on October 28th, which as we know now obviously is your little brother’s birthday. Incidentally, they originally wanted to deliver him on November 3rd – but I flat out refused and said that no, you can’t do it that day, that’s Rian’s birthday. The doctor looked at me funny, as if that shouldn’t be a reason not to deliver Alex that day, but I insisted: you should both have your own day to celebrate, and we should have our own days to celebrate each of you ourselves too.

So it remained that the 3rd of November is our Rian’s day.

It’s hard to believe it’s only four years that we’ve known you because you’re so much a part of us now. And in other ways, it’s hard to believe how fast the last four years had gone. Having your first baby is such a massive change, it’s like living a whole other way of life overnight, everything is upside down! Although you feel like someone’s mother from the moment you’re pregnant (and I’ll tell you the story of how we won you another time– because you really are amazingly unique), the feeling of protecting  you and loving you so fiercely, is something I had never known before. There is absolutely nothing I wouldn’t do to make sure you were safe – and I knew that before I ever  met you. After a long, exhausting, and sometimes scary labour, at last you arrived by emergency section at 22.22 on a Monday night in early November. So beautifully perfect, our little Rian, here at last.

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Your first ever morning 

It’s an amazing thing to know someone since the very moment they existed, to feel them grow within you and to watch them change and learn new things, and especially when they’re a part of you, a mini version of yourself, mirrored back at you. To hear you repeating phrases we say, or imitate gestures we make. To see my own traits in you, and your Dad’s too, and lots of your own, you teach us just as much as we teach you.

Even thinking about you now as I write this and I can feel my heart swelling up, butterflies of happiness in my tummy and little pings of happy thoughts zip around my head at all the funny things you do, the sweet things that you say, the way you’re so kind towards your little brother. Other times of course you’re not so kind to him, especially when he wants a toy that you’re playing with! But I guess that’s normal!

You loved books from very early on. Before you could talk you used to drag your favourite books, which were almost as big as you were, over to me and indicate you wanted to sit on my lap and I’d read the books to you, over and over again. Stories about Snails going on adventures with Whales, Highway Rats terrorising other woodland animals for their food, dragons called Zog learning how to breathe fire, so many that you loved, but your absolute favourite of course was The Gruffalo, and the Gruffalo’s Child. Your eyes would widen at the mention of the Big Bad Mouse, and your little face would light up with wonder and excitement when Owl appeared. And so began your love and fascination with Owls…. when we brought you to meet some real ones during the summer, I honestly thought you might explode. Every time we go for a walk in the woods beside our house, we have to examine every single stick, carry half of them, and constantly check the ‘tree-top houses’ to see if Owl might be home.

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Magic

It’s amazing watching you grow and change, and finding out what you love and what you don’t. You love dinosaurs, and anything with wings. You love books, and you love dragons. You love Penguin who is actually a doorstop and weighs a tonne.. you saw him in the shop one day about a year ago, and refused to leave him behind. You can’t carry him because he’s too heavy so he sits on the shelf beside your bed. Your bedside shelf also includes a T Rex, two owls, a tiny plastic octopus, some owl lights, a skeletal crow (don’t ask!), your dinosaur light projector… but above all else, your best friend Sniffy.

As soon as you laid eyes on Sniffy, you loved him. You called him ‘Snissy’ at first, he was clean and fluffy and brand new. Now he’s hugged and squeezed, his hair is worn, much thinner and his colour is slightly duller, but he’s never looked better, very clearly loved. Sniffy is there with you when you wake up, scared of the dark, you talk to him and mind him so well, and he cuddles you back to sleep. One time when you were sick and poor Sniffy was in the wrong place at the wrong time, he had to go for a bath in the washing machine. You kept vigil beside him, watching him spinning round and round, by the door of the machine. Singing him songs and making sure he was ok – then when he had to lie on the radiator after his bath, you checked on  him every 20 seconds or so to see if he was dry yet, just to get a cuddle.

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Sniffy (with Penguin on the shelf!)

And when your baby brother arrived – the moment you met him is a moment I’ll remember my whole life. You peered in over his crib and put your two year old hand on his cheek and said in your babyish words ‘Hello baby!’ And right at that second a bond was formed and you’ve been adoring each other ever since. I hope that lasts your whole lives, you two are best friends already.

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Rian, you teach us things every day. You’ve taught me how to look at things like they’re new again, to see wonder and excitement in simple things I wouldn’t have even noticed before. You teach me how to be better in myself, and you’ve shown me how strong I can be. But above all else, you’ve taught who and what a Pachycephalosaurus was – and how to say it! (It’s pack-ee-sefa-lo-saur-us! You’re welcome!)

There just aren’t the words to tell you how much you are loved, not just by me and your Dad but by everyone who meet – your kindness and gentleness, your stubbornness and your determination shine through. I hope they stay with you, the strength of mind you already display. I hope you can keep your determination, to not be afraid to speak up for yourself, and for others who might not be able to do it for themselves. To have the courage and confidence to be whoever you want to be, no matter what anyone else thinks or says. To always be kind. And to show your little brother how to do the same, to be the best big brother you can be. And I promise I will always do my best for you both to help you with whatever you might need.

Happy fourth birthday Rian – you light up our lives. And as we say every single night before falling asleep :

‘We love  you more than all the twinkly stars. How many twinkly stars are there Rian?’

‘Too many to count them Mama’.

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