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An ornament made of babies

Faith Gachobe @wangechigachobe

Babies as accessories are the latest fashion trends. Yes, that’s right. Chunkier than any chain in the market, louder than any neon you can find.

Perhaps a replacement for little dogs in handbags, celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West­­—who once draped her daughter North in an expensive pearl necklace, and has taken selfie after selfie with her, have been slammed for using their little ones to look good.

Blame it on the social media culture, because the habit has found its way to the ‘closets’ of Kenyan mums. Celebrities’ and bloggers’ toddlers are already fashionistas, with Instagram pages of their own to showcase their looks. But it isn’t just about pictures posted on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with hashtags such as #likemotherlikedaughter, #fathersonmoment.

Even at social events. You see it everywhere. A simple trip to the supermarket, even at night would be taken with the baby. It gets worse, at events not appropriate for children, mothers carry along young ones thinking they are too young to understand some things.

“What people forget is that babies need things such as playtime and sleep in a regular pattern. Carrying them along only interrupts this,” says psychologist Margaret Kisu.

Cate Waweru, a fashion designer, says that she has noticed an increase in orders for matching mother-daughter or son outfits.

“Most of the outfits are made with Ankara fabric, and the little ones are so small that the only resemblance ends up being the fabric, but mothers will never heed to the suggestion to attempt different styles. I once made an outfit for a little girl that made her look like a tiny woman.

From that time on, I either tell the mother to change her preferences or I will not do the outfit. It doesn’t help at all, however, because on Sunday, you still see countless matchy-matchy outfits in church!” Cate says. It is said that women dress well not for men, but for fellow women.

And it seems the babies are also used in the same way. A woman notices, her friend or colleague is expectant and she jumps on the bandwagon. Kisu intimates that this trend is mostly borne of the innate competition that exists between mothers.

“The biggest women on women critics of all are mothers and it’s a competition nobody means to enter. About 90 per cent of mothers pick each other apart when it comes to their children.

Starting right from pregnancy, they look at each other’s baby bumps and judge if they are too big or too small. They compare gynaecologists and would rather break their back and bank to deliver their baby at a certain hospital just because their friend delivered there,” she says.

“Then when the child is born, comes a flood of other things to compete about,”she adds. Nancy Wairimu, a single mother of a three-year-old girl, noticed sometime back that whenever she goes out with her daughter she gets three times the attention she would if she were alone.

“Even on Facebook. Any photo of me and her gets more likes, but the most attention I get is if I put up a picture of only her. I think women do not use the baby as an accessory on purpose, but rather because they feel since they gave birth they have become invisible.

At least that is how I feel,” she says. According to Kisu, if you look closely you will see this attention seeking by mothers come out in many other ways. “Being a baby-mama, especially for a rich man today has become almost cool.

The baby is lavished with things they don’t need so that the mother can seem fashionable, and even when things go wrong they would rather seek a listening ear from friends without children,” she explains.

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