And for once I was SuperMom

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Mother of Beauty

I read an article the other day that was entitled, 'Why You Should Take Nude Pictures.' 'Okay,' I thought, 'I'll bite.' Nude photographs of myself have always been on the 'do not do' list. The 'absolutely under no circumstances should you allow someone to ever snap a photo of you nude' list. Especially if you ever plan on enjoying your fifteen minutes of fame, or if you ever intend on running for public office. The article basically said that having yourself photographed nude is a glorious celebration of your body and that every women under 30 and before childbirth....wait, what was that? That's right, it said exactly that, you should do this before you are 30 and before 'your body is ravaged by childbirth.'
Ahem, so sorry to see that I have lost my window of being attractive nude.
Bummer, that now that I am 30 and have given birth that my body is no longer beautiful.

During the summer I was pushing Emma in her stroller, I was post run in my spandex. I passed a group of gardeners and heard,
“Damn!” I think he got punched or something because the next thing I heard was,
“I'm just saying!” Before I had a kid this would have angered me, now, all I could think was, 'oh, thank you.'

This is sad. We have gotten this one backwards. The first time I heard the phrase MILF I was a bit grossed out, just because of the use of the word 'fuck.' Now it angers me, because the implication is that after you have a child you are no longer sexually attractive. If you are it's the exception rather than the norm.

In most cultures in the world having a child raises your status. In parts of eastern Europe you are not considered an adult until you are married and have a child. In parts of Africa the highest social status is that of grandparent. Somehow in the United States becoming a mother does not raise a woman's status. Once you become a mom you start to feel yourself avoiding things that may be considered mom-ish, certain hairstyles, comfortable shoes, certain jeans, certain styles of clothes. Anything that might indicate that you are what we see stereotypically as a mother.

And what do these clothes and hairstyles usually look like; low maintenance, maybe even an indication that you have 'given up' and no longer care about your appearance. In some ways I see this happen because women become so caught up in running a household and caring for children and family members that they neglect themselves. Now that we lack the social systems that we once had, extended family and a more integrated community, so many women are doing this on their own. Which means that, yes, sometimes you don't have time to shower or put on makeup. Or some days you just don't want to, some days I just want to take a break from thinking about my appearance. Have the way I look not matter for 24 hours. Actually believe my husband when he says I don't need to wear makeup.

The idea is that we are used up, no longer young and perky, and past our prime.
Why is that we only consider young and perky women as our standard of beauty. Becoming a mother lowers the status of the American woman because it is perceived as making us less attractive.

How did this happen? Motherhood is a huge part of our lives. So is feeling attractive. How have we made them mutually exclusive?

Unfortunately women are more than the sum total of our attractiveness. We are worth more than what we look like in the lens of a camera or the reflection of a mirror.
So to the author of that article, I am past 30 and my body has been 'ravaged by childbirth' and I actually like it better than I did when I was 20. Not for some emotional empowerment reason, but because I still look good naked.

Oh, and I didn't need to take pictures of myself naked to get that way.

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