Around the time my daughter was one year old, I started learning calligraphy - drawing and painting quotes that I liked. I found myself most drawn to phrases that I could pin up in my daughter’s room that would surround her with positive messages and can-do statements.
I wanted to fill my daughter's world with positivity because of how differently people (without necessarily meaning to) treated my kids.
My son got: “what a strong boy you are! Here, catch this ball.”
My daughter got: “what a pretty little girl you are! Do you like dolls?”
Shopping for girls’ clothes meant being dazzled by rail-upon-depressing-rail of pink things, twee messages and cutesy imagery. Meanwhile, the boys’ section was full of cool, colourful clothes with strong slogans and fun graphics. It made me incredibly frustrated and cross.
Fortunately, my daughter didn’t get the memo. Instead of playing with dolls’ houses, she preferred to climb up and jump off things, wearing her Miles Morales or Green Ninja costumes. Between the ages of three and four, she would only answer to Spiderman.
These days, she’s more into Minecraft and parkour but continues break the mould. She doesn't want to wear skirts, which she says are no good for hanging upside down because everyone will see her knickers. She turns her nose up at dainty school shoes because they’re no good for climbing.
Seeing this from a child’s perspective has brought it all into focus: this is a society where somehow, even in 2023, boys are seen as active, girls as passive. Men are the ones who Get Things Done, while women are there to be pretty and looked at.
Over the years I’ve done loads of different projects, but the theme I keep returning to is empowering women. My daughter's also drawn to it and loves creating positive art. She drew this ahead of International Women’s Day and I love that strength is something she aspires to.
And so this year (as every year), my set of empowering phrases for International Women’s Day is dedicated to you, Emmy, my fabulous, fierce little lady. May you continue to hang from trees, climb those mountains and smash those stereotypes 💪
You might not ask us to call you Spiderman anymore, but you’re one of the world’s superheroes.
The Empowering Women collection of prints, postcards, colouring book, embroidery kit and tea towel can be bought in my shop here :)