Another Day, Another Nanny Objectified by Society

Celebrity Nanny Scandals| AKA: How to Tarnish and Alienate and Entire Profession|

Friends, I am enraged.

I know it may not seem like it just yet, but there are some seriously messed up things going on in the nanny world right now. As with any ‘organization’ I’ve been involved in, I’ve realized there are literally whole other worlds based on the hobby/sport/profession. I was a cheerleader for 9 years, and the other-worldliness of it all was all too real. There was competition between different teams (to be expected), the rise of ‘cheerlebrities’ like Peyton Mabry, and of course the entire subculture of cheer mom relationships.  Then there’s colorguard, which I participated in throughout high school and part of college. Regionally there are always the high schools with the better programs, and even beyond, there is such stress on auditioning and making the best Drum Corps International program. Well, friends, nannying is no different. There are dozens of nanny blogs, twitter accounts (#nannyprobs), and of course the ever-persistent problem of the general public having little to no clue about what a nanny really is.

So here’s the thing. I am a nanny. You know this. I am not a babysitter. By definition, a babysitter is someone who cares for children of multiple families on an occasional basis. Also, this conjures up images of the 15 year-old on your street who just needs some extra spending money, and can even be associated with ‘couch-sitting.’ A nanny, on the other hand, is a person who cares for children of one family (unless in the case of a nanny share), full-time, over an extended period of time (usually a few years). In short, being a nanny is a full-time job, while babysitting is not. I could write an entire new post on this subject alone, but I’m here about a very different unfairness.

Hiring a nanny is not like hiring any other employee. It is much more personal, as the relationship is built largely on trust. A parent must trust that a nanny will take adequate care of their children, and a nanny must trust that the family will treat her with the respect and fairness that any other professional deserves. Here’s where the complications arise though. You want to genuinely like and trust this person, this nanny who is going to be interacting and influencing your children, who is going to be working in your home majority of the time. So… is it wrong to take extra liberties when hiring to make sure you can be comfortable in your own home? Yes, and no.

When hiring for any other job, the hiring manager’s bias is *usually* something that an potential employee doesn’t have to worry about. We have laws protecting against discrimination, and we can usually going into an interview knowing that if we are not hired, it’s for a valid and non-trivial reason. But hiring someone for your home is a little different. There’s no discrimination clause, no big company scandal, no fight to be made if you feel you’ve been passed over unfairly. There’s simply no way to prove it. So, some families take liberties. There were families that I interviewed with where I didn’t feel like things were quite right. Some of the questions asked of me I wondered if they had asked to other candidates as well, or if they just rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like everything from my background (where I was from, not just my experience), my age (especially!), and even my size were especially scrutinized. Technically they aren’t allowed to ask your age, only if an applicant is over 18 and legally allowed to work in the U.S., but comments like ‘Wow, you look so young!’ after confirming that I was over 18 did show me that age definitely played a factor in some of the families I interviewed with. Whether it was simply because they assumed at my age I would be inexperienced, or if they thought my young age meant I was flighty, and less likely to stay committed to a job I’ll never know. I know of at least a few different nannies who claim they were passed over for a position because they were young, single, and therefore more likely to ‘get married and leave [the family]’.

And if all of that wasn’t enough, there’s yet another possibly reason why you, as a nanny, could be turned down for a position. You’re attractive. Yep. Believe it or not friends, in light of the recent celebrity scandals involving dads and nannies getting together, there are multiple articles advising mothers to not hire a young, single, and attractive nanny, for fear it may tempt their husbands into infidelity. Are you $&@#ing kidding me?! An article by the New York Post, linked here and offensively titled “Here’s How to Keep Your Husband from Having Sex with the Nanny,” cites multiple mothers who ‘would not, under any circumstances, hire a hot, single, 20-something nanny.’ Apparently because nannies sleeping with their DadBosses is such a crazy epidemic, vice president of Pavilion Agency (a nanny staffing organization in NYC) Seth Norman ‘Greenberg, says a sector of his clients purposefully seek out less-than-striking nannies, specifically requesting that Pavillion not send them anyone “very beautiful”.’

ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME. Sooo a professional nanny can’t be considered for a position without first evaluating and objectifying her body, trying to determine if she will be too ‘tempting’ and ‘distracting’ for the husband? Since when are attractive women the problem when it comes to a man and his ability to keep his cool, keep it in his pants, and keep the sanctity of his marriage intact?! This seriously only furthers the ‘she was asking for it’ idea that seems to keep floating around rape and harassment. If you’re worried that your husband will cheat on you, that’s a problem whether your nanny is attractive of not. As if this weren’t enough, we’re also moving into the ridiculous territory of dress codes. Many, many, MANY schools have unfair, sexist dress codes that are there to ‘keep school free of distractions.’ How about instead of telling a girl she can’t wear shorts in the summer, or can’t wear tank tops with straps thinner than 3 fingers (a real rule guys, this came from my high school), you teach boys to be respectful and not stare down a girl’s shirt all class when he should be taking notes. Sound good? Yeah, thought so. So, this mentality that boys (men!) looking at girls in a sexual way is the female’s fault is terrifyingly inaccurate and makes me so sad. But back to our nanny story.

Holly Flanders, CEO of Choice Parent nanny consulting, recommends that parents take the same harsh, controlling, sexist approach to dress codes and apply them to the nannies they hire. Seriously.

“I have families fill out an assessment of what they are comfortable with a nanny wearing . . . If they’re going to a pool, what kind of swimsuit is acceptable for them? Or the amount of perfume. Or skirts,” says Flanders.

I’m sorry, but since when is anyone else besides the person wearing the perfume allowed to decide how much they can wear? Do people actually believe that an extra spritz in the mornings is going to turn their husbands into sex-hungry beasts that just can’t keep their hands off their nanny?! If nothing else, this article speaks terribly for the husbands of these women. Like, poor guys. And some of the comments of this article are even worse. Instead of the outrage I was hoping to find in the comments, many people actually agreed with the article. One of the more ridiculous (and alarming) comments is found below:

As in any relationship, it’s best to keep any direct exposure of your man away from attractive women, and that goes for his “supposed” long time woman friends too!  Women are territorial anyway, and if that friend is so important, then question everything or leave and find a man who has more man friends!’

I will not post her name (although she used it to comment on the New York Post website so I guess she’s cool with the entire internet knowing), but I PITY the man who ends up with her! Again, I could write an entire new post on this topic alone, because this lady needs to understand that’s not an ideal or healthy relationship. Lord help these crazy people.

 But again, we’re getting off track here. Thankfully, there are some sane people in the world, like Alessia Santoro, who wrote a rebuttal piece titled It is NOT My Fault If I’m an Attractive 20-something Nanny Who Your Husband is Into (linked). Alright, so the title isn’t the greatest, but it really is a piece that’s worth a read, talking about the unfairness of nannies not being able to be viewed as professionals.
And that’s really the root of the issue here. The fact is that no, hiring a nanny is not like hiring anyone else. This is a person who you are looking to bond with your children, to help them explore, grow, and learn during the time a parent is working. Have we forgotten that the children are the top priority here? If a nanny is qualified, works well with your children, and is generally good at what she does, really not much else should matter. A nanny is a professional caregiver, and should be treated as such. The celebrity nanny scandals are rare occurrences rather than the norm, and the happenings of Hollywood should never be any sane person’s basis for making decisions for their own families. There’s nothing wrong with developing a relationship, even friendship, with your nanny. If she’s serious, she will always have the children’s best interest in mind. Put your mind at peace. Like I said, much of the parent/nanny relationship, is built on trust. Beyond a professional, she is also part of your support system in this crazy journey called parenthood.
I hope you enjoyed friends. This was kind of a little rant on the unfairness of certain aspects of this profession. I love what I do, and I am so lucky to never have any of these problems. I am lucky enough to be respected and loved by my NFs, and I love them right back! But not every nanny has her perfect family, so stories like these happen. All I’m trying to do is show people that there’s more to nannies and nannying than people think. It’s a different world, a thing that not many people nowadays know about. But, my hope is to change that. Have a wonderful rest of your day friends, and as always, I hope to see you here again soon!

2 thoughts on “Another Day, Another Nanny Objectified by Society

  1. I agree with your argument about behavior and dress code. How is it the nanny’s fault? Not only that, but why is this a prerequisite for a job? If any other job hiring discriminates, why should this be any different? If a woman is worried about her husband fooling with the nanny, clearly, she’s with the wrong man.

  2. I completely agree with all of this. I am a nanny as well and find the public attitude towards the nature of my work offensive. Love what I’ve seen of your blog, and look forward to following.

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