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