Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Harriet Harman: I was encouraged to pity exceptionally beautiful girls

Labour former deputy leader Harriet Harman has revealed she and her three sisters were "encouraged to pity exceptionally beautiful girls" when they were growing up.

Ms Harman said their parents told them pretty girls would "go through life relying on their looks, then struggle when they faded", but said she did not pay attention to her mother Anna and father John at the time.

She also said she pitied girls who said their mother was their best friend but added that eventually she and her sisters Jan, Sarah and Virginia had adopted their parents' values.

Ms Harman told The Guardian: " My parents were very keen to instil self-reliance in us.

"That meant not depending on a man and not envying the children of rich parents, because they would grow up with no incentive to work.

"We were encouraged to pity exceptionally beautiful girls because they would go through life relying on their looks, then struggle when they faded.

"Not that I thought we paid any attention to our parents at the time. We were in revolt against the older generation from the word go.

"When girls said their mother was their best friend, I used to think, how pitiful.

"It's ironic to think my parents managed to imprint their values on us."

The former cabinet minister also said she had her first "epiphany" aged 19, when she realised she would never "serve a husband" like her mother did her father.

"My mother, who was retraining as a solicitor, was studying a law book in the kitchen," Ms Harman said.

"Simultaneously, she was cooking kippers for my father's breakfast and preparing a curry for his supper. The smell was horrendous.

"Meanwhile, my father (who, by this time, was retired) lazed in the lounge with his newspaper. I remember thinking that the idea of serving a husband like that was something I'd never, ever do."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph