Ranty Friday — School Runway

There has been much debate on the school run now becoming the school runway.   And I had no idea that I when I was asked to comment on what I thought about this new phenomenon for ParentDish last month I had no idea it would lead to me being on the Alan Titchmarsh show this afternoon.   The original article is here:

How did the school run become the school runway?

Yep, this afternoon on ITV I am on the Alan Titchmarsh show debating the nonsense that is women wearing full make up and stilettos to drop their children at school.   With a lady who does who school run in 7 inch spikes having got an hour before she needs to do to do just that.


We recorded it on Tuesday and I have to say it was a blast.  Everybody involved with the show was just lovely.  Including my opponent though alot of effort was made to keep us apart before filming.  There is something kind of weird sitting in a make up room having your face fake tanned whilst Myleene Klass and Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen discuss leopard print in the background.    This is after I introduced myself to Myleene by saying “Hi, I am Mummy Barrow, I interviewed you for my blog ahead of the Big If Campaign this summer”.   She looked bemused for a nanosecond and said “oh I remember”.    I don’t think she did.

So my rant is about women that feel they have to dress up for the school run, do it in heels, with a full face of make up, with the latest must have posh hand bag.   Now, I must point out that my original point was about women who do it specifically FOR the school run.  Not because the school run is en route to work.

My beef is about how it defines how we see them, how our children see them.  How it becomes THE most important thing about them and their day.  And I think that is wrong.  I think we should be defined by what is on the inside.  By who we are.  Not whether our lipstick is from this year.

My opponent, Rosa, countered my claim with “well I would rather my children grew up knowing that we should be smart and not in a hoodie like a chav”.

Does wearing a hoodie make you a chav?

I would rather my children knew about respect for people whatever they are wearing.

My main point, and I can’t remember if I make it or not is that people can feel intimidated by the seemingly always perfect woman at the school gates.  Yes, I get that it might be her armour that helps her get through her day.   But what about teh woman with post natal depression that is made to feel inadequate by that woman.   Who always turns up with baby sick on her t-shirt and hair not washed for a few days.

Does that make her inferior?   Does that mean she doesn’t care about her appearance?  Does that mean she is teaching her children to be slobs?

Or does it mean that she has used every ounce of energy after being awake for 36 hours with a colicky baby to just get to the school gates.  That she has concentrated on making sure her elder child has dinner money, their homework diary signed and their PE Kit, foregoing any time for personal grooming of their own.

I want women to stop judging women.  To stop trying to get one over on each other.  To stop trying to be superior and saying “look at me”.    Or just showing off because they have children at school with a celeb’s kids.

Maybe we need school uniform for adults


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  • Yes T! Spot on. We should stop judging each other. What someone wears on the school run (or to play dates/ baby classes/ the park) has nothing to do with their ability to be a great parent. Like I’ve said elsewhere before, when my daughter reaches school age, I’m tempted to go in scruffy clothes just to rebel and say “yes! Look! Doesn’t mean I’m. A bad mum!”

  • I would have gone in my pyjamas if I could lol when Bee was just born!

    I’m one of those that just throws on whatever’s handy and just go….. Don’t give a stuff what others think!

    Must admit I did initially think oh I should make more of an effort when I saw the perfectly groomed mums but then thought stuff it, to me it’s not a competition. I just want to get my kid to school.

  • I have the Titch on record so I can catch up later! This is all so true and I’m afraid my post is of a similar nature.
    If wearing a hoodie makes you a chav then hang a sign around my next too. Great post x

  • Ha ha, I went to school today in my tracksuit and hoody with my pj’s on underneath… 3 days a week, I am normally fairly smartly dressed, with make up etc, but that’s because I am dropping one child at school the other at nursery then I head to work, and whilst I do work with children and families, and run around like a madwoman in my job, I still like to look nice, as I am representing my business. However, on the mornings I don’t have to be at work, I am not dressing up. It’s utter madness to be dressed to the nines just to do the school run!

  • To be honest, most days I see it as a bonus if either me or the twins aren’t wearing pyjamas on the school run. With toddler twins and two older children to get to school on time, every time (and we do), I couldn’t give a stuff about looking like a style icon. If other women want to, then great, that’s up to them, but I won’t be made to feel inadequate because they’ve got time to do their hair and make up and getting their one or two children sorted too.

    This morning, I also managed to take my friend’s two children to school too. I did it all in a hoodie and tracky bottoms and trainers. Incidentally, this was the same kit I wore while completing my two university degrees, so I’m preeeeeeety sure clothes do not maketh man, and they certainly don’t maketh woman. Anyone who thinks otherwise, as far as I’m concerned, is too dumb for me to care about their opinion of me.

    Will be watching this afternoon!

  • So with you on this, Tanya. I haven’t actually done a school run for many years now but back in the days when I did (I think Amy was about 8 when it stopped), I used to absolutely loathe standing at those gates and being made to feel inferior to the well-groomed and well-educated mums who would look at me as though I was a complete thicko just because I’d often turn up in a pair of wellies and a dirty (and probably very smelly) pair of jeans – and once or twice a boiler suit! There were a group of women, about 4 if I recall, that would huddle in each other’s cars and were so obviously talking about other parents at the gates. Occasionally they would glance at me and offer a smile, then look me up and down. One used to take a little handbag with her and always wore silk neck scarves – and what did she do for a living? She was a farmer’s wife. Same as me. Only I am also a farmer. She thought she was the ultimate business woman because she started up a farm shop selling her own produce (that her husband, the farmer, grew). Her child was ‘perfect’. Her life was ‘perfect’.

    The year after Amy left that (awful) school, I heard that this woman with her ‘perfect’ life had left her husband and moved in with another man. I guess unhappiness comes in all guises.

    On the other end of the scale, my nephews go to a rather posh private school (I’m not against private education) and when they mum (my sil) did the school run, she used to laugh at the mums there, made up to the nines, designer handbags, designer sunglasses, designer everything. She said it really was like a fashion show and hardly anyone spoke to anyone.

    Can’t say I miss doing a school run!

    CJ x

  • I agree with you but I don’t think it will ever change, there is a portion of women out there who also need to dress up to front their day and without that suit of armour they feel inadequate. I’m not with them, I’m fine hair tied up and in jeans and hoodie (I don’t think of myself as a chav though) but I see these other women who need that cover

  • I’m reading this wearing a hoodie with my hair scraped back into a ponytail and no make up on. Some people need to get a life. Where do people with more than one child find time to put a full face on and straighten their hair in the mornings? Seriously. I’m not missing out on sleep for anyone. Your post inspired me to take part in my first RantyFriday today – it’s quite liberating so I’ll be back! x

  • I’m so with you on this. I don’t live in a super affluent area so don’t come across a huge amount of these women dolled up to the nines ever let alone on the school run tbh. Friends have told me about it though, and it all seems a bit wrong…

  • I was lucky as when I used to take my kids to a private school in London none of the other mums dressed up – or maybe I didn’t notice the ones who did! Most of the time we were in parkas with the hood up trying not to get too wet or too cold and being supportive of each other. If anything I felt self-conscious the few times I did dress up (as on way to a meeting or something special).

  • Mmm interesting, I have just started doing the school run and I agree that dressing up just for that reason is sad. However as someone who suffered from post-natal depression with both my children, I now like to make an effort with my appearance because it makes me feel better. It makes me feel in control and proud of myself. So yes the first thing I do when getting my oldest child ready for school is to make sure she has everything she needs, but secondly I make sure I’ve brushed my hair.

  • The first year Roo was at pre-school I felt a need to make an effort but soon realised that nobody took any notice where I’d put my slap on or not. Now they just have to be thankful that I have something that is clean.

  • My aunt doesn’t do the full make-up thing for the school run but she does put on some subtle lipstick (I think only when picking up her kids, not in the morning). Her reasoning? “What happens if George Clooney were to turn up at school?”

  • A school uniform for adults, haha, would love to see that 😉
    I agree with your observations, though, women are notoriously bad for judging other women. Usually when they don’t know you or are not your close friends. Why do we do that?