Literature, bras, large vehicles, haircuts, jeans, music, movies.
What do these things have in common? Well, if you pick the wrong ones you will be labeled as part of one of the most unattractive, uninteresting, and overall pitiable groups of people around: moms.
We’ve all been there. Embarrassed to admit we follow a certain blogger, determined to never drive a minivan, obsessively texting pictures of our denim-clad butt to our friends: “Do these look too much like ‘mom’ jeans?”
I had the epiphany I am about to share in the dressing room of a popular, pink, and secret lingerie store while unsuccessfully stuffing my boobs into a bra and trying to understand why there was not a single size that fit comfortably. I left the shop disappointed, but adamant in my refusal to spend $50 on a bra that cut into my back, couldn’t hold in the girls, and was sold by a store unapologetic in gearing its merchandise to a college-aged demographic.
I then wandered into a high-end department store that I had never before thought to try because my mom had shopped there for her bras.
What I found changed my life.
These bras were the same price and higher quality. These bras were pretty and lacy and more aligned with my matured aesthetic. Also, the “mom bra” I hesitated to even try on was the best bra I have ever purchased. It fit like a comfortable glove. It shaped my boobs by smoothly putting them into pre-baby position without jacking them up to my chin like a desperate freshman at a frat party. I felt good and I looked good – like a woman, and yeah, like a mom.
As much as I loved it, I hesitated as I put it on the counter for the sales associate to ring up. Did I want to be the woman with four clasps on the back of her bra? Did I want my husband to see it? What would my friends say? I’m only 28! They were sure to snark.
But as I worried about what they would say about me – and what this bra would say about me – I couldn’t help but remember that effortless support, that roomy cup, that wide and competent row of clasps. The inescapable truth was that this bra was designed for me. Because I’m a mom.
Just like the youthful, low maintenance bob is designed for moms like me. Just like the minivan that allows for quick access and conflict-free space for the kids, and the mommy blogs that go on ad-nauseam about stretch marks being okay and assuring me that what I do matters and I will survive. And mom jeans? Well, they might widen my butt, but they sure do tuck in my stretched-out tummy, so I am going to don a long shirt and rock those bad boys.
I won’t apologize. What’s more, I am not just standing up for my right to be comfortable regardless of people’s rude comments. I am also going to say it: Attaching the word “mom” to something to denote frumpy-ness and or a complete lack of cool or to imply an inability to discern real artistic value in a product is ageist, sexist, and flat-out wrong. Moms come in all different forms, and the only thing one can know for sure about a mom is that she is a woman who at some point became responsible for other people’s lives. A lot of times that change means their body changed, their motives became a lot less selfish, and they were inducted into a community with a common set of experiences that make certain types of art move and inspire.
How are any of those things frumpy, laughable, or pathetic? The reasoning seems absurdly circular. Moms are unsexy because their stereotypical choices render them so, but what makes these choices unsexy is that they are stereotypically chosen by moms. The only logic one can hold onto in this disrespectful dynamic is that moms are fundamentally unsexy.
But for something to be considered unsexy doesn’t that mean it doesn’t inspire sex?
As a 28-year-old mother of three who writes a mommy blog, basks in the comfort of her mom bra, cries to Adele, and rolls up the cuffs of her mom jeans, I can assure you this is simply not true. I am most notably sexually attractive to my husband, and looks I get at the grocery store and the gym assure me he isn’t the only one who thinks this.
Just as these stereotypes don’t define “unsexy” they also don’t define what it means to be a mom. I don’t drive a minivan, my hair is much too curly to pull off a mom bob, and lifetime movies are always a bit too on-the-nose for my taste. And like it or not, I am pretty sure every single one of us is on this planet because a woman carried us in her uterus.
You know, like a mom.