If you’re able to wake up on a Saturday morning when you don’t have to go work and think, “I’m going to just stay in bed until it’s dark again!” and you are not immediately tackled by tiny monsters who are determined to rouse you from bed and spend the rest of your "day off" sucking the energy from your veins, you’re probably not a mom. However, if your mornings — regardless of the day of the week — are spent traipsing after littles and figuring out how to manage kids' schedules, then you're definitely a mom.
The point is, motherhood is tough as hell sometimes, and as such, I think all moms could use a little appreciation for their day-to-day mastery of raising humans. You know what moms don’t need? Body shaming. Of all the things on my holiday wish list, body shaming simply wasn’t one of them this year. Keep in mind, new kitchen sponges made the list. Body shaming did not. Still, I found it wrapped up nicely in the form of weight loss ads about baby weight and plastic surgeons offering mommy makeovers. Seriously? We're still at the point where sending moms an onslaught of messages about how horrible and broken (but fixable, for a very reasonable price!) their bodies are now is acceptable and commonplace?
In looking out at the landscape of today’s fashion trends and beauty scales, I can’t help noting that the ways in which moms are made to feel awful about their "post-baby bodies." (How is that even a term?! Bodies are just bodies, and lots of things change them! Gravity will, if nothing else! Why are moms the only ones burdened with carrying around an unsolvable distinction between "the past when your body was fine" and "the present/future, when your body is ruined because of that child you love so much.") While some messages are so blatant that they barely stop short of saying, "Hi moms, your body is a giant disaster now, so good luck with that, you sexless old witch," there are others that are so engrained in our society that they're just constantly around us, sending more subtle messages about how "messed up" women's bodies are after having kids. Here are a few examples of what that looks like:
The Availability Of Stretch Mark Creams
OK, so here's the deal: When you market an avalanche of products to women to "correct" and "fix" and "cover" parts of the their faces and bodies, all you're essentially doing is telling them that all of those parts of them are bad, incorrect, and flawed. Which, I mean, I get; It works out well to convince women that their bodies are a problem if you're the one selling the "solution." From makeup to shapewear to cosmetic surgery, women are bombarded with these "you are not right, but for $19.95, you can be" messages basically from birth. But at no point are the messages more blatant and harmless than when it comes to pregnant women, or women who recently were pregnant.
From creams and lotions to surgical reconstruction to skin smoothing treatments, companies have decided that any changes to your skin made by pregnancy need to go. These products are targeted toward soon-to-be mothers and people who are "recovering" from pregnancy, and all moms who maybe didn’t realize they had a problem until the ads came out. Here’s the deal: When one grows a little human, the body stretches. Some of the stretching that occurs results in marks that remain permanently if surgical or other options are not pursued. Are we really so afraid of motherhood that the most basic evidence of it must be removed? Stretch marks are battle scars and asking moms to remove the evidence of the massive, awesome task they completed is not only rude, it serves to fundamentally change how a woman feels about her body, and her worth in general.
"The Mommy Makeover"
A plastic surgery package so blatantly targeted at moms that they’ve chosen to call it "The Mommy Makeover." No, seriously. I'm not linking to one of the many, many plastic surgeons who offer this kind of "service" because plastic surgeons have money and might sue me for telling them that they're horrible, sexist opportunists, but get thee to Google and bask in the terrifying frequency with which you'll see this phrase.
I won’t go into detail about what exactly this surgical makeover entails because it gets icky, but its main purpose of this endeavor is to put women back how they were before they had kids. While some women might want to seek this out for their own totally valid reasons, I have to wonder why this is a thing. As women, our bodies change when we have kids. Our hips get a little wider and we have scars to show where we’ve been. Yes, the body after children is different than the body before children but that doesn’t make the woman less valuable. Her flesh does not need a tune-up.
The Term "Mom Jeans" Exists
The term "mom jeans" is used for unattractive fitting jeans. Um, I don’t know about every mom, but this particular mom over here still thoroughly enjoys flaunting her rump in a pair of...normal people jeans? So, maybe it's time to get rid of colloquialisms that reinforce the idea that women surrender any ounce of fashion sense once they have a kid.
The Term "Baby Weight" Also Exists
Look, we gain weight when we have children and calling the extra layer on the midsection "baby weight" doesn’t make it cute. However, this particular method of shaming offends me both from a mom perspective and as a woman. As people, we occasionally struggle with weight. We look at ourselves and wonder if we should be different. This doesn’t just apply to moms. To some extent, calling the extra padding "baby weight" both shames moms about the way they look but also implies that recently having a baby is the only valid excuse for a slightly bigger muffin. Can we please be mature enough to realize not every body looks the same and maybe direct our attention to something more important like global warming or infrastructure in developing nations? But until we get our societal act together and stop throwing subtle digs at moms, I plan to be exactly as mature in my response: Gross, stop it, you big meany-head.