I’ve had families tell me that I am not appropriate to be their nanny because I am attractive.
One mother turned me down for a job in case my looks attracted ‘unwanted attention’. That’s why I think it’s a terrible shame that US country music star Jana Kramer has made a conscious choice to do just this by choosing not to employ an ‘attractive’ nanny.
When I heard it, my first instinct was for her children. Hiring the right nanny, one who will support, care for and keep your children safe, is a major decision. To let their issues as a couple dictate who they employ has the potential to impact badly on the children.
Kramer may decide against a wonderful nanny because of her attractive face, and instead employ a nanny who she is happy to be around her husband – only for that nanny to turn out to be incompetent and unreliable at their job. The priority should be who is best qualified to take care of the children whether they are attractive or not.
Sadly this is not always the case. When I started my career at the age of 23, I was set on being a modern day Mary Poppins. My first job was with a beautiful family. On arrival I parked my car at the gate and a face appeared at the side of me.
It was the mummy of the family. I remember the first thing she said through my open window: ‘You are even more beautiful than your photo’.
The mother saw how I was with her children, how I am at my job and recognised my skills (Photo: Amber Persephone)
I was taken back. I don’t consider myself a model (I don’t even know how to contour!) and neither do I have the confidence that goes with it – does anyone? Fortunately on this occasion my face did not affect my getting the job.
The mother saw how I was with her children, how I am at my job and recognised my skills and attributes. I had a lovely relationship with the family and her husband didn’t pounce on me. Yet just recently, on a well-known UK website for nannies, I got offered a job.
I hadn’t even replied when I saw I had been sent a second message saying, ‘On viewing your photo you are not suitable, you would attract unwanted attention whilst out with our children’.
I was shocked. After this message the website blocked her from contacting me and gave me an upgraded membership as an apology. But I shouldn’t have faced that kind of judgement.
I would never risk anything that could end my career, or indeed break up a family.
Just because I or any other nannies may be considered attractive, it doesn’t make us incompetent, a danger to children or a possible problem in a marriage.
I would never risk anything that could end my career, or indeed break up a family. Being judged on how attractive I am is bad enough, but worse, I am then forced into a ‘hot nanny’ stereotype where the assumption is I would encourage cheating.
When I am looking for a job as a nanny, my intentions are always to work for a family that has the same values and ideals for looking after children as I do, not for a possible romance with the children’s father. If the father did make an inappropriate advance towards me I would make it clear I was employed in a professional capacity and that his behaviour was not appropriate.
As nannies, we do have the ability to say no. I would also take the decision to leave the job, despite the unfortunate precedent this sets. I am a professional and only want to work for people who treat me as such.
The idea that attractive women cannot be employed for childcare is hugely damaging, not just to my career, but to that of other nannies. We are losing out on work because mothers are not willing to employ us – because mothers believe their marriage could potentially be tested.
What a defensive judgement to make. I am saddened but mostly disappointed by this change in society. It seems a like a huge shift from a time when nannies were welcomed into the family home for the sole purpose of child care. In a world where being stereotyped and judged is both familiar and frequent, it seems like a trend that will never stop, but being one of those who judges can.
It can result in stopping nannies like me doing the job we have worked so hard for, and a job that makes us so happy. When employing a nanny, the only people to think about are the children involved, not marital or relationship issues. The children are the ones who will spend the time with your nanny – not your husband.