Saturday 19 January 2019

Mummy's girls

Like mother like daughter, but do some agedefying mums encourage comparison with their girls, writes Maia Dunphy, or simply want them to follow in their glamorous footsteps?

Hardly a week goes by without a new (usually vaguely derogatory) word to categorise women popping up.

We've had Cougars, MILFs, and now we have the Sammies. You know the ones; is she her sister or her mammy? It's not a new phenomenon; who remembers those cringe-worthy Oil of Olay mother and daughter ads in the '80s? But now we have a word for it.

Paving the way for aspiring Sammies is the age-defying Demi Moore, who was photographed last week sitting in the front row of Brazil Fashion Week beside her 16-year-old daughter Tallulah. It is no exaggeration to say they do indeed look like sisters. They have exactly the same legs — long, lithe and tanned; and while they share the same genes, presumably Demi has to work a lot harder to achieve what youth does naturally for Tallulah.

Another Sammy situation is Kate Hudson and the magnetic Goldie Hawn. Kate has been doing the rounds recently, plugging her new movie, and in every interview, her mum's name inevitably pops up. She is regularly quoted as saying how amazing it is to have a mum who looks so good, but poor Kate sounds bored of it all.

It's not just Stateside. Oh no, we have plenty of Sammies flying the flag on this side of the pond. Morah Ryan seems to be getting younger by the day as her daughters mature into miniversions of her, and let's be sure not to omit my personal favourites, the Claudine Keane and her mum Joan Palmer. Ah yes, gorgeous Claudine and her identikit mum Joan. Except these two seem to be following a different programme altogether.

Not ‘is she her sister or her mammy?', but the ‘how much like Barbie and Skipper can we look?” are straight out of a Mattel factory, and I am confused as to whether Claudine is dressing too old, or if it's just the result of an explosion in the Strictly Come Dancing dressing room.

Mothers and daughters are not supposed to look like sisters and I'm not sure this phenomenon is a healthy one for either party. Women should look and feel as good as they can or want to, full stop. It shouldn't be followed by ‘for their age'. It must be difficult for Tallulah to be compared to her mum, widely considered to be one of the most attractive actresses of her generation, and who (if rumours are to be believed) has had more than a bit of help from the surgeon's knife along the way.

Equally, being compared favourably to a teenager may be flattering in the short term, but it creates high expectations. Her daughters will undoubtedly be growing up taking all of this in, unable to avoid the comparisons and possibly believing that beauty and youth are the most important traits a person should have.


Demi's oldest daughter, Rumer, is regularly on the receiving end of some pretty disparaging comments in the press, because she is deemed to be not quite as attractive as her mum. Surely this isn't what Demi wanted for her girls, but if they've seen mum have a nip and tuck here and there, she doesn't really have a perfectly toned leg to stand on.

Cher's daughter Chastity often spoke about the terrible pressure she felt when constantly compared to her beautiful mother (presumably this has abated since he became her son, Chaz). So the unwritten rule seems to be, it's great to have the “you look more like sisters!” cliche thrown at you as long as you are both beautiful.

Carol Vorderman paraded her daughter at a recent awards do, as does Madonna almost everywhere she goes. “Don't I look amazing, and not old enough to have a daughter of this age” the message seems to be. There's a vicariousness to much of it that I find disconcerting.

Demi Moore doesn't look 16, and nor should she have to. She looks like someone in her 40s who watches what she eats, exercises a lot, and has had a bit of help along the way. Her daughter, on the other hand, looks like a lovely 16-year-old girl with very big shoes to fill.

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