One of the most wanted faces in fashion world, British model Jourdan Dunn (Women), the face of Burberry, features in an interview for Vogue UK January 2013 issue. Photographed by Nick Dorey.
January Vogue: Balancing Act
Super-nannies, grandmothers on stand-by and fully charged mobile phones – fashion’s working mothers reveal how they negotiate the tricky business of career success and childcare. Interviews by Jo Ellison. Here, Jourdan Dunn relays her experience. The 22-year-old model gave birth to her son, Riley, in December 2009. A single parent, she is planning to relocate to New York in 2013, and has just announced plans to present a cookery show for Jay-Z’s Youtube channel, Life & Times.
I found out I was pregnant at Heathrow Airport, on my way to a family holiday in Jamaica. I was 18. When I saw the result I didn’t know how to feel, I just knew I had to deal with the situation. All I could think was how everyone had such high hopes for me, and that I couldn’t have the baby. But then I got to Jamaica and decided I was just going to have to make it work. Telling my mum was the hardest thing: she was angry and upset. She had me at a young age and didn’t want me to go through her struggle.
I knew my boyfriend and I both had the trait for sickle-cell anaemia (a blood disorder), so there was a one-in-four chance the baby would have the disease, but I thought it wouldn’t happen to me, my baby wouldn’t be sick. Then the baby tested positive and it hit home. We have to monitor Riley carefully and make sure he takes his medicine if he gets ill. Sudden temperature changes or stress can trigger a crisis in him where he needs a blood transfusion.
I worked until I was six months pregnant, when I couldn’t fit into any of the clothes. I didn’t keep my pregnancy a secret especially, but I worried about how people would treat me when they found out. I worried about being judged, but I realised I can’t live for other people.
Since Riley’s birth, my mum has been there for me 100 per cent. I lived on my own until I was eight months pregnant, when she suggested I move back home. My boyfriend was there for the birth and then went to prison for a year, so I really needed the support of my family. Riley had his first crisis at about six months. I was so glad to have my mum with me.
Riley’s two and a half now. He and his father do have a relationship – his father has him over at the weekend – but my mum is my main support. As soon as I’m offered a job, I check the dates with her and then she looks after him for as long as I’m away.
Once, when I was shooting in Puerto Rico, Riley had to go into hospital and I felt terrible not being there. At least, when I do get low, I think about the fact I’m being paid well and that I’m doing this for him, rather than for myself. It won’t really affect him, my being away from him when he’s this age.
And I have felt very supported within the fashion industry. The agency really looked out for me. I went back to work after nine months – I didn’t feel any pressure to go back quickly, and when I did everyone was really supportive. I’ve had a good experience. The models with children would make sure I was eating properly and gave me a private area to breastfeed, and Heidi Mount, who has a child, is great. She’s going to be my advice line when I move to New York. I’ve been offered a show on Jay-Z’s Youtube channel. It’s a cookery show, but I don’t want people thinking I’m a chef. I’m a mum. Cooking is something I have to do. It’s something I like to do. This will just be me doing that – with people watching. It’s exciting, but the thought of moving to New York and finding the right nanny – especially one who knows about sickle-cell – really scares me. At the start of my career, I was dead against it, but now I feel I should go for a year, make my money, come back, buy a house and everything will be cool.
More than anything, having a son has made me realise I have to make shit work: I’m his voice, I’m his lifeline, I have to be driven. I think he pushed me in the right direction. I’ve always been ambitious, but now I have more focus. I’m more hardworking.
Source: vogue.co.uk (http://www.vogue.co.uk/news/2012/12/11/vogue-archive-jourdan-dunn-motherhood-interview—january-issue)
Image: Fashion Spot