Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Dear Mothers Everywhere,

          Hopefully you will agree that you are the role models for your children, particularly the female ones.
          So if you go off the rails there is every chance that they will do the same thing.
          Celeste Barlow is one Mom who doesn’t seem to be able to appreciate this aspect of parenting. To make matters worse she advertises the fact on her blog for the whole world as well as her three small children to see.
          If she was single her behaviour wouldn’t matter so much, but there are four others (husband/partner - if she still has one - and her three children), who are being tarnished by her apparent inability to recognize the harm that she is doing.
          I appreciate that judging by what she writes on her The reluctant mom’s blog; sub titled, I am still saying FK a bit more than I should she is probably suffering from the after affects of postnatal depression.
            In 2011 she wrote: “I struggle to keep sane in my insanity. Right now I am a *yellow lifeboat bobbing along quite nicely with my bottle of Chenin Blanc.”  

* The Beetle's 1966 hit Yellow Submarine
was said to be a symbol of the way they
were isolated from the world by their fame.

There are various other interpretations as well.
          Currently from what she says she is being treated for depression.
Is this an acceptable reason for her to put her three children, the oldest of whom must be in his early teens, through the embarrassment her blog must be causing them? Children these days are very tech savvy almost from birth so hers are no doubt well aware of what Mom gets up to on her blog.  
          She even has pictures of them all with this caption: “I am the person most likely to be voted: ‘she who does not want children’ – straight shit happens when you are hopped up on estrogen.”
          Her well presented blog hit the Twitter fan after she wrote a post complaining about Pick n Pay’s latest promotion in which they give away one little rubber toy called a Stikeez for every R150 spent.
The tongue in cheek side of her rant was very much overshadowed by the unacceptable (to most people anyway) language she used about this very successful campaign that has kids clamouring to collect them.
          If you are able to ignore the filth she has some goods points, particularly for mothers of more than one child, like how difficult it is if you have three children and you have only spent R300. Two Stikeez don’t divide into three without some heartache.
Celeste won the Kidz World best Mommy Blogger in 2012 and 2013 and had the top Best Parenting Blog in the South African Blog Awards for 2010.
          Kidz World is an online resource directory. Its founder Cara Mullin told me that they never endorsed the views of any of the participating bloggers. The winner with the most votes was chosen by their own readers and Mullin said they never received any complaints about the content of any of the blogs.
          It’s not surprising that Celeste won because her Blog has clocked up an impressive total of nearly one million page views. So I can’t tell you if her Stikeez muck was the norm without going through all her many posts or whether she only used this kind of shock tactic for this one.
          What is certain is that judging by the pictures of this glamorous Mom she definitely doesn’t need to stoop to profanities to attract attention.
            Headed: “Larry at Pick n Pay and my wishes around venereal disease” it contained a liberal use of that FK word she talks about as well as other dirty language.

           Larry was evidently a fictitious character she claimed had come up with the Stikeez idea at this supermarket group.
          It ended with this obscene message: “I hope you get a chlamydia – and your entire team. And it is drug resistant.”
          But not before she had referred to her youngest daughter, who looks about five, as an “ungrateful little bitch” because she cried when she unwrapped a Stikeez which her mother had spent “R150 on crap to get” only to find it was not the one she wanted.
          “She has 14 Stikeez,” her mother went on. “Quick Maths. 14xR150 = fuck load of money.
          “She seriously burst into tears.
“I seriously lost the last bit of shit on this subject.”
          In the middle of it all Celeste had a Side Bar about her ex-husband’s girlfriend “who died tragically and suddenly last week.”
          Talk about bad taste, actually no taste at all.
          Journalist and a mother herself Louise Marsland tweeted, “Funniest thing I’ve read all week. Esp for parents who shop at Pick n Pay.” She included the link to Celeste’s post.
          Pick n Pay instructed her to, “kindly remove your tweet as the content is highly inappropriate.”

          The supermarket chain was absolutely right. Barlow’s post is extremely inappropriate especially as she has three small children and the promotion is for fun things for kids.
          However instead of dealing with this aspect Louise took Pick n Pay to task in an article on headed “How to blow your brand in five minutes,” for having the temerity to ask her to remove the offending tweet.
          She accused the company of shaming its brand “with one stupid tweet.”
          Louise and many other women had nothing but praise for Celeste’s sick post.
          The questions I would like to ask them are these:
          Would they think it’s still okay if their own children were habitually using the same kind of obscene language that Celeste advocates?
          Do Celeste and the rest of you think her boy and her girls are proud to have a mother who swears like a trooper indelibly in public because that’s what a blog effectively is?
          Do you all think they like her bragging about the amount she drinks?
          Do you and her think that her rock bottom standards are a good example for children to follow?
          Has it ever occurred to all of you that if her children get told off at school for swearing they might justify it by saying, “My Mom does it and she says it’s alright?”
          Has it ever dawned on any of you that they could be ridiculed at school about their Mom’s blog?
          Louise and everybody else who thought this was so funny should read Celeste’s entire blog, not just the controversial Stikeez post. Then they will realise that her life is not a bit funny at all.
           It’s a constant battle. It follows that her unhappiness must have affected her children and those closest to her.
          Her misery appears to have been compounded by her divorce.
          Even her own conscience pricks her now and again into thinking; “Some days I am really proud of the shit I say - some days I am embarrassed - some days I have no recall of what happened yesterday.”
          If it embarrasses her what does it do to her kids, the rest of her family and her friends?
          The seriousness of her condition can be judged from some of the other frank admissions on her blog.
          Like: “In June 2011 I opted back on as much medication as my pharmacist and friendly pill doctor would legally allow. So far so good.”
           And: “I am partial to Chenin Blanc. Okay a lot of Chenin Blanc.” What on top of all that medication?
          Her tell tale blog paints a very depressing picture. Her situation is exactly the opposite of “good.”
          To me her blog is a plaintive cry for help. She is like a child swearing at the top of its voice in a shop’s isle to get its mother’s attention.
            It’s a long way from being a joke. That post is not really about what she called that “8 cents crap toy.” It’s a lot, lot more important than that could ever be.
           Somebody desperately needs to step in urgently to get that yellow lifeboat she’s in safely to shore and to give her the support she so clearly needs.
          Where are the parents or other close relatives of this 39 year old when they are so badly needed?
          All those who are in a position to do so will you now please, please rally round this obviously talented woman to get her back on the right track where she belongs.
          There must be a much more personal way to get her over her depression than bottles of wine and piles of pills.
          My immediate suggestion, which I accept is a frivolous one that will not in any way solve the real issue, is for Pick n Pay to give all her children a complete 24 piece Stikeez set right now.
David North
          So I put the idea to the Group’s CEO Richard Brasher. David North, the Group’s Executive for Corporate Affairs replied on his behalf and I sent him a draft of this post.
          Initially he said: “It’s a nice idea which various people have suggested to us and my colleagues are following up.”
          Pressed for a more definite answer he made it clear that Pick n Pay was not prepared to play ball with the Mommy Blogger story anymore.
          “I am not keen for Pick n Pay to be involved in a continuation of the controversy of last week. As you know we apologised for the tweet that caused the furore.
          “I ask that you write your piece without referring to the question of whether we sent extra Stikeez to the family or not. I genuinely do not want us caught up in another social media discussion, this time not of our making.”
          So the “nice idea” which I felt would have done his firm far more good than any possible harm didn’t stikeezy with this corporate giant.
          Celeste I hope you get better soon and no longer feel the urge to make these ugly personal protests on the internet.

         They just shatter the beautiful image that your photograph portrays.
          Jon, a Consumer Watchdog who unfortunately doesn’t get it right all the time.
Raymond Ackerman
P.S. Sorry *Raymond we might have been at the same school together and in the same house at Bishops, but when it comes to this sort of thing ‘Business is Business’ I’m afraid. I couldn’t agree to David’s request not to mention his response to my proposal. I merely told him that I would quote what he said.
*He is Pick n Pay’s founder who stepped down as Chairman in 2010.