Maybe ‘Sexy Moms’ Want To Look Good For – Gasp! – Themselves
Oh, TIME magazine. First you cause a whole big stink with your controversial breastfeeding cover – you know, the one where a total hottie is pictured nursing her almost-4-year-old-boy – then you publish a piece about the “tyranny” of the sexy mom. Puh-leeze. I get it, I get it – I work in publishing, too, and so I know that certain topics “sell” better than others. But still, I’m sick of the message that moms feel enormous pressure to look good soon after childbirth because (a) celebrities do, (b) men expect them to, or (c) they fear they’ll be judged by other women. Maybe, just maybe, these women want to bounce back into shape for themselves. Maybe they feel like crap being 30 lbs overweight, and maybe looking good means feeling good, which always translates into a happier, more confident person.
Don’t get me wrong: I do think most women feel pressured to drop their baby weight stat. Which is too bad, because obviously having a healthy baby and bonding with that baby is far more important than obtaining six-pack abs moments after giving birth. But the two aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, TIME writer Susanna Schrobbsdorf uses that exact term when describing how prior to the early 90s – around the time that a pregnant Demi Moore appeared naked on the cover of Vanity Fair – “being desirable and being maternal were considered mutually exclusive.”
Schrobbsdorf reminds us that Jennifer Garner made headlines recently for donning a one-piece bathing suit while playing on the beach with her three young children. US magazine labeled her “sexy,” which Schrobbsdorf finds problematic. Why? Because “what started as a kind of feminist liberation for women is now slipping into old-fashioned objectification.” She goes on to say, “Suddenly the permission to be sexy and motherly turned into a mandate” and, frankly, it’s exhausting.
Schrobbsdorf makes some solid points in her piece, which I think is worth a read, but she leaves out one important detail: Women want to feel sexy. Moms especially. One friend of mine, who gave birth back in February, was feeling really lousy about herself post-baby. Emotionally, she was in a really good place and she was thrilled with her role as second-time mom. Physically, she felt like shit. So she did what any smart mom would do: She started eating healthy and cutting out crap, going for long walks with the baby, and finding time to hit the gym for some serious workouts. The latter part wasn’t easy, but she made it a priority. She still has 5-10 lbs to go but guess what? She’s happy. She’s confident. She’s back to wearing high-waisted skinny jeans. She’s back to herself. And she has no qualms about using the term MILF – which TIME deems “vulgar” – as she’d like to be one.
And you know what? We’d all like to be MILFs. Not because we’re expected to be but rather because it’s 2012: Being a mom and being sexy are no longer mutually exclusive (thank goodness). Yes, celebrities and their post-baby weight loss have the potential to set a dangerous precedent, but I think most moms are smarter than that. We work out because it makes us feel good. And feeling good equals feeling sexy.
Also, let’s not forget that modeling a healthy lifestyle, including hitting the gym, sends an important message to our children. As does teaching them that it’s okay to want to look good, not for a guy or for your BFFs, but for yourself.