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John Legend highlights double standards for mothers and fathers

The Independent logo The Independent 12/06/2019 Sabrina Barr
Chrissy Teigen, John Legend posing for the camera © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

John Legend has called out the double standards mothers and fathers face when raising their children, opening up about the castigation Chrissy Teigen faced following the birth of their first child.

In April 2016, Legend and Teigen’s daughter, Luna, was born. Just over a week later, the celebrity couple went on their first date night as parents.

“People were shaming Chrissy for leaving the house, and didn’t say anything bad to me,” Legend tells Romper with regards to the evening.

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“Look, we’re both parents and we’re both going out. If you think that’s not appropriate – and first of all, you shouldn’t think that’s not appropriate – if you’re going to blame somebody, blame both of us, not just the mother.”

Legend has witnessed Teigen being shamed for her parenting methods on several occasions over the years, such as when the model engaged in public discussions about undergoing IVF and when Internet trolls questioned why her son, Miles, wore a head-shaping helmet.

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“I think it’s just a lot of these cultural traditions that have been too limiting and not inclusive enough over the years,” the singer states, adding that he hopes societal norms have started to “shed”.

Legend outlines how those who criticise mothers for their parenting methods while praising fathers for doing the bare minimum have “lowered the bar”.

“All the times when we’ve lowered the bar and have said dad is babysitting when he’s taking care of his own kids – no he’s not, he’s just parenting,” the La La Land star says.

The 40-year-old explains that these “gender norms”, where the mother is expected to take sole care of the children while the father works, are “baked into how people are having these conversations”. “I just wish people would think more about that and what that means,” Legend adds.

Another aspect of parenting that Legend has taken heed of is the assumption that fathers won’t change their babies’ nappies.

AP © AP AP

According to recent research conducted by Pampers, nine out of 10 fathers have gone into a men’s public bathroom that doesn’t have a baby changing table.

“It’s kind of assumed dads won’t change diapers, so facilities are built in a way that bakes that assumption in,” Legend says.

“And [that] then perpetuates the fact that dads won’t change diapers because they don’t even have a place to do it.”

In order to combat the lack of baby changing areas in men’s public bathrooms, Legend has partnered with Pampers and Florida father Donte Palmer to launch a new campaign, which promises to provide 5,000 baby changing tables in public bathrooms across North America by 2021.

In 2018, a photograph of Palmer changing his son’s nappy while crouching in a men’s public bathroom went viral, highlighting the need for the addition of baby changing tables in men’s bathrooms.

Legend stresses the importance of acknowledging the “active role dads are playing their babies’ lives”, stating that he believes the campaign will pave the way for “more inclusive parenting”.

MSN are empowering Women In Sport this summer. Find out more about our campaign and the charity fighting to promote the transformational and lifelong rewards of exercise for women and girls in the UK here.

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