I was treated like a freak for giv­ing birth at 47, says former Strictly star Ar­lene

Daily Mail - - Election 2017 - Daily Mail Re­porter

PLENTY of moth­ers have ba­bies in their 40s nowa­days.

But Ar­lene Phillips says that when she had her sec­ond daugh­ter at the age of 47 some 26 years ago, she was treated like ‘some kind of freak’.

The former Strictly Come Danc­ing judge, now 74, was over­joyed when she fell preg­nant as she thought she was about to en­ter the menopause.

But she soon en­coun­tered prej­u­dice as an older mother.

She said in an in­ter­view: ‘[I was told] I was some kind of freak, that I would find it hard to bond with my baby when I could be the grand­mother.

‘I’m so vo­cif­er­ous if any­body says some­thing to me that I find of­fen­sive. But I was so vul­ner­a­ble. I let all these re­marks go by with tears in my eyes.

‘Nowa­days, be­ing an older mother is very com­mon. When you let all those things go you see the ab­so­lute joy of hav­ing a baby when you’re older. You re­ally do feel you’ve been given a gift.’

The chore­og­ra­pher and ex-dancer said that dur­ing her first ap­point­ment at the Royal Free Hos­pi­tal in Lon­don, the doc­tor told her she was the old­est mother-to-be they’d ever had.

She added: ‘He told me that at my age I should be a grand­mother not a mother. That made me feel ter­ri­ble.’

Speak­ing to Good House­keep­ing mag­a­zine, she also said that when her daugh­ter Abi was lit­tle she ‘felt ter­ri­bly old and self-con­scious at the school gates’. But she added: ‘Now I notice it much less. Per­haps that’s be­cause it feels as though there’s less of a gap in age be­tween women as they get older or maybe I’m just more con­fi­dent. The main worry is al­ways whether you will see your chil­dren grow up. My own mother died from leukaemia when I was 15 – she was only 43, so you can’t leg­is­late for that.’

Miss Phillips, who was one the orig­i­nal Strictly judg­ing panel from 2004, was axed in 2009 aged 66 and re­placed by Ale­sha Dixon, then 30.

She told the mag­a­zine she was never told why she was sacked but that she ‘didn’t speak up’ be­cause she had just lost her man­ager of 30 years to cancer and ‘couldn’t think about fight­ing’.

Miss Phillips had her first daugh­ter, Alana, in 1979 with a pre­vi­ous part­ner. She fell preg­nant with Abi in 1991 with her cur­rent part­ner, set de­signer An­gus Ion. She told the Daily Mail in 2006: ‘No one could have been more stunned. I thought I was head­ing for the menopause. It was such a bless­ing.’

Her full in­ter­view with Good House­keep­ing ap­pears in the July is­sue, on sale to­mor­row.

Trial: Miss Phillips in Good House­keep­ing’s July is­sue

‘Blessed’: With baby Abi in 1991

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