Opinion: Kelly Bertrand’s take on the unfairness of how we celebrate success, and why single women always get the short straw
Looking back at my diary over the last year, on almost every weekend page there’s a social engagement scrawled in the box.
‘So-and-so and so-and-so’s baby shower – buy present (figure out what the hell to buy person who hasn’t even been born yet)’
‘Old mate and old mate’s engagement party – buy present (are Kmart chopping boards acceptable, and if not can you just regift that weird bottle of Chardonnay your aunt gave you last Christmas?)’
‘Thingie and thingie’s wedding – buy present (what do you mean there’s a f***ing registry, I can’t afford any of that s***)’
Celebrating the massive life milestones of my closest friends is one of those things that truly and utterly brings me the greatest joy.
My two best friends have just had babies just a few weeks apart and I absolutely love my new Aunty Kelly job title. I’ll hopefully be the fun one who eventually teaches my little dude and dudette how to properly shot tequila but will also happily pick them up from a party at 2am in the morning and ‘promise not to tell their mum and dad (but totally will on the down low)’.
But as I looked back on all of the wonderful moments my friends experienced this year, I started to wonder, ‘what about me?’.
Now before you go thinking this is a single girl sob story (I’m pretty sure it’s not), my point isn’t that we shouldn’t be celebrating love and family and babies.
We should also be celebrating the successes and achievements of the modern woman – and ones that don’t involve someone else as the key ingredient to happiness.
For some of us young professional women, single or not, finally scoring that job promotion after years, or even decades, of hard work and sacrifice means as much as finding ‘the one’. Starting businesses, or moving into your first place by yourself, or surviving a week on Bumble (that’s only mostly a joke).
Why is it that the things Hallmark and Briscoes have decided we celebrate all involve another person? The fact is, we just don’t celebrate single women as much as we do those who have had the luck to find their lobster, and it’s just tiring.
Putting aside the ridiculous amount of money I’ve spent on loved-up people’s presents in the last year (although to be fair every cute baby outfit is totally worth it), we need to look deeper at how society still values women, despite the surface proclamations of ‘women can do whatever they want! They can have it all!’ that come with teeny tiny fine print of ‘just make sure that “all” includes bearing a child’.
Last year, as you’ll all know since you’re reading this on Capsule, we started this online magazine in the midst of a lockdown and after being made redundant from our magazine jobs. I know I’ve never pushed a watermelon-sized human out of my hoohah, but Capsule is as much my baby as anything I’ve had in life.
But can you imagine the reactions on my friends’ faces if I sent them a ‘I Started a Business’ shower invitation, along with a nice little registry to Warehouse Stationary and Kikki K?
And yes, while my happiness at my friend’s milestones couldn’t be more genuine, attending these events requires a lot of emotional fortification, regardless of how happy you are to be single. The constant ‘so, are you seeing anyone?’ followed by the inevitable look of pity is well-meaning, but ever-so-eroding on the confidence as you can see their brow furrow as they try to figure out why (if you’re lucky).
And you wonder why we get absolutely wasted at weddings and hide half-full Champagne bottles under the table for the end of the night when the bar is closed.
We should celebrate success, whatever shape that may take in someone’s life.
My life isn’t any less worthy of celebration than anyone else’s – regardless of access to full-time D or a kid, and my achievements are just as worthy of note as anyone else’s, whether they involve someone else or not.
And I think it’s time we started celebrating that. If you need me, I’ll be registering at Farmers.