There is nothing wrong with being a little different
Fashion designer and blogger Maz Halliday gives us some insight into what an alternative lifestyle can teach parents and kids about accepting others for their differences, and treating others equally kindly.
We are not exactly your cookie-cutter, typical family, we’re a little different – and that’s okay. My husband and I are both heavily tattooed, we both have successful careers, we follow a vegan lifestyle and I have probably had every single hair colour you could think of. It’s all fun and games when you are young and carefree – society is more likely to accept your differences – but I have found that the rules change a little when you become parents.
I grew up in a very small town and my family is open-minded, yet somewhat conservative. I was always different – I liked brightly coloured hair, and I listened to a very wide range of music. I was fascinated by the alternative culture and I couldn’t wait to move to the big city. I got my first tattoo when I was 17… and I was hooked. I’ve collected a number of tattoos over the years and I love every single one of them. I will probably carry on getting them until I run out of space.
Hell hath no fury…
My career never suffered because of my tattoos. People stared, asked questions, but no one was ever rude. I will never forget the first day that my appearance attracted a negative comment. I was a couple of months pregnant with my first child; you could just start to see my baby bump. I was sitting in the waiting room at my gynaecologist’s office when the woman opposite me said to her husband, “Why can someone like her have kids and I can’t, it’s not fair – her child has no chance in life.” I knew she was saying it out of hurt and anger of her own personal situation, but it cut like a knife. This woman didn’t know me; how could she possibly judge someone like that?
My first pregnancy was very difficult and I had a lot of complications. We went from doctor to doctor, specialist to specialist, and the first thing each and every one of them would ask was, “Will you be keeping the baby?” or “Are you happy about the pregnancy?” I am not sure if this is something they have to ask, but I took it very personally and it offended me every single time. Luckily my daughter was born at full term, happy and healthy as can be.
Fear = judgement
It was only once she started school that we fully experienced how judgemental people could be, especially of what they don’t understand. None of the other parents would talk to us or greet us, we were judged for our non-religious beliefs, and we just never fitted in. Unfortunately, Mikayla got the worst of it. She was treated unfairly because of our lifestyle choices. You have to understand, this was long before tattoos and brightly coloured hair were considered “cool”. We decided to move her to a private school – I guess people are less inclined to judge you or care about your appearance when you are paying a small fortune in school fees because, despite being the youngest parents at the school, we were no longer the outcast family.
Things have changed a lot over the years, and people are definitely becoming more accepting of others’ alternative lifestyle choices. I often get asked about how I think my tattoos and lifestyle will affect my children – I always wonder that myself. I hope they do. I hope it teaches them to tolerate and respect those around them with lifestyles and beliefs different to their own, or people who look different. I want my kids to grow up knowing that they do not have to fit into the neat little box society has put out for them in order to be successful. Just be a good person, be kind, love one another and be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be. We can do with a little more love and tolerance in this world.