Dear Donna Gosby
The council in Dagenham, Essex, has asked its Carnival Queen to step down because she is eight months pregnant ...
Friday 23 December 1994
It was years ago, after all, that actress Demi Moore and model Yasmin Le Bon strutted their very pregnant stuff on magazine covers and converted the reading public to the idea that baby-carriers are beautiful.
How dare your obviously male bosses seek to define, I thought, what is or is not an acceptable look for their council. If they were paying you, then they might have more ground from which to call the shots.
But I was not best pleased with you, either, for wimping out of your recent engagements on account of not fitting into the costumes. Get out your needle and thread - it's not you at fault, but the costumes. Let them out. Pave the way for a succession of pregnant carnival queens.
Why not rerun that video of you winning the competition in May? Remind yourself that it was you, not some mannequin, who was chosen, and who chose, to represent your borough.
To vent my disgust, I called the carnival boss, Councillor Jack Thomas, who is holding a meeting after Christmas to discuss your fate. It was his line about a single mother not presenting a suitable image for his borough that I was particularly intendingto harangue him over.
I meant to ask him if he would propose sacking a male councillor if it emerged that he was divorced - but he momentarily took the wind out of my sails by saying, "My concern is for the unborn child".
He thinks that you ought to be with your baby for at least the first three months after it is born in February - rather than out and about finishing your carnival schedule. He's a clever man, Donna; like most politicians he can make prejudice sound like compassion.
What you must do, Donna, is beat him at his own game. Your "job", let's face it, is not exactly the most time-consuming in the world. What is it, a couple of Saturdays a month, if that?
Why don't you tell Councillor Thomas that you will be with your baby for the first three months? Tell him that he or she will accompany you on your final brief outings as Carnival Queen (and if he or she doesn't feel like it, then your parents, whom you live with, will babysit).
What you must not do is kowtow. Yasmin Le Bon not only showed off her pregnancy, she put her own daughter on the catwalk when she was a toddler.
Give your child a taste of what it's like to be Carnival Queen - and, more importantly, give the men on Dagenham Council something to think about.
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