3 reasons why decorating feels anti-feminist

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I’m terrified that my love of home decorating is a signal that I’m playing into a traditional gender role and letting down my gender.

My mum has always been the rock that holds our family together. She has been, at different times, the primary caregiver and the primary breadwinner.

This is something I admire about her. But I’m not sure I want to emulate it.

For years my mum was mine.

She would pick me up from school every afternoon with my baby brother in the pram to take us to the playground. She would pack me a tuna-mayo sandwich she made that to this day reminds me of heaven on bread.

Now she’s a high-flying businesswomen who jets off to Hong Kong, Singapore, New Dehli, Sydney and stays in 5-star hotels #LIKEABOSS.

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{That’s mum and me on the left – and me in the stunning double denim outfit}

1. Caring what people think is hard to shake.

There’s a guilt within me that feels like it’s my responsibility to make the most of my privileges – good education, a stable and loving family, the career opportunity to do exactly what I want.

And I’m worried that I’m wasting it on curtains and cushions.

That, for someone who is vocal about gender equality, people will use me as an excuse to reinforce their prejudice against women, that we’re all born to be the homemakers.

That, like my mother who, despite being the main provider, she is also still the one expected to look after the home.

I’m worried about how limited that will make me feel. Locked into an expectation that I’ll always be the caregiver. Feeling that people will think this is all I’m capable of.

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2. With freedom, comes choice.

I get a lot of enjoyment from decorating. I like the sense of control it gives me.

My love was born from a place of strength and my mum’s example as a pragmatic woman and parent who taught me if you want it, create it and it’s not enough to make do, make the best!

It wasn’t my mum trying to (knowingly or unknowingly) trying to push me into a fixed gender role of women being homemakers. She was sharing a gift of autonomy and control over your environment.

My freedom is not in the choice that I make, but that I have a choice to make.

3. Someone else’s idea of feminism.

Part of me knows the conflict exists within me because I’m measuring myself against some textbook idea of feminism I read about in school.

That homemaking is oppressive and make-up is worn for men.

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{My mum organised my birthday party, complete with her handmade pink bon bons}

While my mum (not my dad) is the one who tends to keep the house neat and is the nurturer for her kids, it’s because that’s in her personality type – to create order. But I’ve been lucky to see a more dynamic version of family than most…

  • My parents are technically married, but it’s never come up. They don’t have wedding rings.
  • I’ve always known my dad to be the main cook in the family.
  • My mum didn’t take my dad’s name, and their kids (us) have double surnames (mum’s and dad’s).
  • And today, my mum is the main breadwinner.

I like the progressive picture this paints. And how it reminds me to be more confident about my choices.

Decorating is not anti-feminist. It’s not a result of propaganda that says women need to be like x, y, z.

It’s the result of the freedom to do what I want, set by the strong example from my family to create my own path and take pride in being able to ‘create’.

Do you feel conflicted about decorating?

Leave a comment below or send me an email about your story.

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