What it's really like being targeted by the school gate mummy mafia.

So apparently Cate Blanchett and I have a lot in common.

Okay, so maybe not the timeless beauty, mega wealth and superstardom so much, but we definitely have one thing in common, we’ve both been targeted by the schoolyard “Mummy Mafia” and weirdly, for the same reason. Our inappropriate “school drop off hair”.

According to a recent interview with Porter Magazine, Cate, mother of three, divulged that certain mothers at her children’s school had been overheard to say “Why can’t she brush her hair?” upon seeing her drop her children off for school, presumably with less than Emmy award-winning hair. Cate goes on to say “They assume you have a nanny and a driver and a chef. Who gives a shit whether I do or not?”

Oh Cate, I hear you sister.

Bern and Cate. Turns out they’ve got a lot in common.

Let me set my own personal scene:

Some years ago, my son not only started a new primary school, we’d moved states and if I’m honest, felt like we’d moved into a completely different world.

I was lucky enough to drop my son off to school each morning but was rarely able to pick him up of an afternoon because that was his father’s end of the parental bargain. This particular afternoon however, I was unexpectedly able to surprise him. I stood there, eagerly waiting to scope out that cheeky face in the throng of identical navy uniforms. The bell sounded and out came 500 scruffy, hot and bothered primary school children bounding towards their daily freedom.


That was when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see an immaculately groomed woman in what can only be described as “high performance workout wear”. She spoke quickly, her mouth like a rapid-fire machine gun.

“We don’t see you in the classroom helping out very much,” she purred, a little smugly.


Cate Blanchett and her son. Image via Getty.

I fumbled and tried to explain that I worked and that I didn’t have the time but that I’d really… She cut me off.

“You have VERY large hair don’t you?” I felt my hand instinctively reach up and touch my wild curls. I went to answer that yes, I do but before I could, she cut back in and said ‘We’ and with that she turned and directed her gaze towards a group of doppelgangers wearing black Lycra, staring back at us “can help you make it more, err, more manageable, calm it down a little, make it smoother, you know?”

That’s when I turned on my heel and politely told her to go fuck herself. No I didn’t. I inexplicably THANKED her and said “I’d think about it”. I’d THINK about it? I’d think about letting her control the way I looked? Who were these women? And why was MY hair a topic of their conversation? Why on earth did they care?

See, silly me, I thought we were all there to you know, just pick up the stars of the show, OUR CHILDREN.


Bern and her kids. 

Similarly, Blanchett, 45, told Porter magazine about the intimidation she feels from the “mafia”. “The fact is I don’t, but you know there is a certain circle of people – and we all get insecure – who then ask, ‘Why can’t she brush her hair?’ You just have to shrug that off.”

Shrug it off indeed. I would hope that if I crossed paths with Cate either into or out of school, that if she gave me the world weary nod that said ‘Yeah, I’ve had a shit of a time getting my kids out the door this morning’ that I would simply give her a knowing nod back in solidarity and that would be that. Because I thought, perhaps naively, that we as parents left all of the ‘Mean Girls’ bullshit behind when we ourselves ceased being students.

Yet, I know now, that the cliques you will face in the schoolyard as a parent are nothing compared to those that you saw as a kid. That being excluded as an adult is still bullying and the pain is still the same.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If we all, as parents keep an eye out for those parents who look a little lost, who may be new, who just need a friendly face to have a quick fireside chat with while they wait for their child to emerge of an afternoon, can sometimes find a friendship that will last a lifetime.

How about you? Have you come up against the schoolyard ‘Mummy Mafia’? Or have you been lucky enough to never encounter such judgmental and ridiculous behaviour?