Voices: Don’t worry about going grey, ma’am, there’s nothing wrong with looking ‘mumsy’

·3-min read

Camilla’s hair colourist Jo Hansford, who has worked with Camilla for 35 years and others including Liz Hurley, won’t let the Queen Consort go grey any time soon – claiming it’s “mumsy”.

As a mum, I’d like to ask: what exactly is wrong with “mumsy”?

I might have looked like I’d been pulled through a bush backwards when my two kids were born in 2016 and 2018, but so what?

It’s a derogatory term that means “out of fashion, homely or drab” and shames us mums into thinking we are not good enough.

It might not be sexy to be covered in baby vomit and wear baggy clothes as I did for years, but it’s called putting your kids first. Is grasping a Sainsbury’s bag for life bag over a designer handbag a crime?

Once you’re a mum, everything becomes practical – you have to get from A to B without running out of snacks. Just having a shower, brushing your teeth and throwing on clothes is difficult enough for mums with young kids.

The truth is: there is nothing wrong with being a mum. It’s just the word “mumsy” has a bad rep – it sounds so unglamorous.

I might not have time for a manicure, or to get my hair done (because I’m juggling two kids whilst holding down a job), but I know loads of people who look “mumsy” who can’t blame the kids.

“Mumsy” doesn’t mean letting yourself go – it just means being comfortable with yourself.

After I had my firstborn, Lola, I was still wearing maternity jeans a year later. After I had my second child, people wondered if I was pregnant again because I hadn’t lost the baby weight.

But for celebrity mums, “mumsy” is a no-go area. Some use a surrogate to carry their baby so there’s no bouncing back into shape for the next film role.

But for the rest of us it’s not possible to not look “mumsy”, and it should be embraced, as should women who want to go grey.

Yet us mums are expected not only to be superwomen but to look like them too.

“Mumsy” is a sexist term. It puts women under pressure to look sexy all the time – a particularly gruelling aim with a newborn baby.

In one sense the rules didn’t apply to me. I had my two children via IVF with my partner’s sperm, two years after he died. As sad as this was for me, it was one of the greatest reliefs that I could look as “mumsy” as I wanted.

I always drew a line at doing the school run in my pyjamas, but I didn’t give my appearance a minute’s thought.

I’ve spent years trying to let go of my perfectionism. I had always been stick-thin before I had kids because I thought that was what was attractive. But, as a mum, I recognise it’s more important that my children feel loved and nurtured – not neglected because I’m at the hair salon, or at Soul Cycle in designer leisurewear.

There is so much expectation on women not to look “mumsy” – but if we are going to have the term, then we need one for men, too.

I’ve decided I’m going to coin a new phrase: “dadsy”. The truth is wearing trackie bums around the house all day – and never changing out of them even for a social event – is just as common.

While Camilla’s colourist is anti “mumsy”, she’s offending us mums. The truth is, not obsessively caring about how you look when you’re the full-time caregiver is self-care.

I’m happy I can feel comfortable in my own skin and be a bit “mumsy”. I’ve never had grey hair, I might add, but I would not call it mumsy anyway. Surely, for most people, that’s getting into “gransy”?