What happened to the Awesome Moms?

Hot Mamas! Yummy Mummies! The MILF club! It seems like everywhere I turn there is a group, website, club, or network for moms flaunting how “hot” they are.

Case in point? This morning as I went through my normal “work at home” morning routine (chai latte on the couch, puppy snuggling beside me, surfing Facebook), this popped into my newsfeeds:

There’s a mixed message when celebs are paid millions to lose the baby weight after pregnancy…

This was the status update for Erika Ehm’s Yummy Mummy Club linking to this article about Jessica Simpson’s pregnancy weight gain and her recent 4 million dollar deal with Weight Watchers to lose her baby weight in a year.

I found myself nodding in agreement for the first half of the article.  It supported Jessica in her ability to let the media scrutiny about her pregnancy weight gain slide off her back and even publicly joke about her enjoyment of eating. In a popular culture that seems to expect that pregnant women should only gain weight in their belly and boobs and miraculously continue to prance around in skinny jeans and heels until they deliver, I appreciated the author’s defense of Ms Simpson (in a mind your own darn business kind of way).

But the author lost my support at the end of her post when she criticized Jessica’s decision to become the new Weight Watcher’s spokesperson. I understand that author’s intent was to question the unrealistic standards celebrity moms seem to be setting for us “average” moms who don’t have access to personal trainers, nannies, and multimillion dollar incentives.

But how does this article judge Jessica Simpson any less than the other articles that have been written about her. It is like a backhanded compliment " You go girl for keeping it real during your pregnancy, but you suck for taking money to lose weight". If we really want to create a media culture that does not set unrealistic expectations or trivialize women why add more fuel to the "Jessica Simpson postpartum weight loss" fire?

And really, why do any of us care?

But it seems as a “mommy culture” we do care. And perhaps rightfully so.

Earlier this week, my studio Manager (who just had a baby 2 weeks ago) shared the article Congratulations on your baby, New Mom! Now quit being so FAT! on her Facebook wall. The author of this article (who is very insightful about this issue, despite not having joined the mommy ranks herself) shared the shameful comments readers left in response to TMZ’s pictures of actress Bryce Dallas Howard 4 months after giving birth:

Wide Load

Damn! I think they left a baby in there!

Her @ss is a huge village!!!

1 word= LAXITIVES!!! STAT!!!

As someone who suffered from an eating disorder and abused laxatives this last comment left me feeling a mixture of rage and despair….

How absolutely horrible to have complete strangers write such nasty, hurtful comments about you during a time your should be celebrating the miracle your body created. Your baby.

Is it comments and media pressure like this that have caused such a swing in our mommy culture? To value the way we look over what we have achieved?

I shouldn’t be surprised.

I’ll never forget arguing with a lingerie store sales associate about the “inappropriateness” of my potential exposure when I requested to nurse my, then 3-month old, baby in their waiting lounge. I was in a store filled with larger than life posters of supermodels barely covered breasts and butts and yet somehow nursing my baby publicly (with a nursing cover I might add) was Taboo.

Breastfeeding may have been the only time my humble bosom ever looked remotely close to the hot pink lace clad, double Ds the model in the pictures had pushed up to her chin. And despite our newfound booby sisterhood I left the store with tears of anxiety running down my face trying to find a quiet spot in the mall to feed my screaming baby. 

The message was clear: breasts are fine as long as they are for sexual titillation.

Wow, I thought my breasts were biologically designed to feed my baby. Huh…

A few months ago I had the privilege of watching Miss Representation.

The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.

In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader(from missrepresentation.org)

A lot of the images and topics featured in the film didn’t shock or surprise me.  It was the typical girls in bikinis selling cars, beer, etc. But I did have to stop and rethink the whole “Girl Power” phenomenon from my high school days. At the time I believed the Spice Girls and Britney were empowering me. I was a strong, smart independent woman! If I wanted to dress like a sex kitten it was totally 100% for me!

Uh Huh… ok maybe 80% for me and 20% for the cute guys I hoped would find my combination of smart and sexy irresistible… or maybe that was 60/40 because did anyone really find it comfortable to suck their tummy in for hours in those mid-riff baring tee and low rider jeans… actually make that 20/80 because how did I ever bend over in those jeans without my “t-bar” showing. Oh I forgot, that was the point… huh…

Misguided, youthful ideas of sexual liberation aside, how did we end up here as mothers?

For me the journey into motherhood was the most empowering experience of my life. Giving birth to my daughters gave me the confidence and drive I had been lacking as a young woman. Motherhood gave me newfound purpose and determination.

Having worked with thousands of moms, I realize many women’s experiences are quite different from mine.  Many new moms feel vulnerable, overwhelmed and isolated.  I, too struggled with days of post partum anxiety when I worried I couldn’t be “enough” for my girls. Despite how amazing moms truly are, many of us are tricked into believing we need to be a  “supermom”.

In the beginning the “supermom” had a spotless, fabulous house, was a gourmet cook, and had children who were perfect. Because she was the perfect mother, of course!

Over the last 6 years media and popular culture have rebranded the supermom criteria above to also include skinny, fashionable, and sexy. It’s no longer “mommy enough” to be the “supermom”,  we now feel the unrelenting pressure to be the “super HOT mom”.

Much like the “Girl Power” culture of my youth I have witnessed the “Hot Mom” culture take hold of smart savvy women. Women are building their businesses, clubs, and networks around titles like “Hot Mama”. I don’t get it.

When you read the “about” sections for these groups you will see how amazingly talented, smart, compassionate and community driven they are. They are doing big things! Important things! Yet the only value they are reflecting in their name is that of outer beauty. Or their “hotness quotient”.

If you are making positive change in our world why the heck would I, or any other women, care if you are hot? I want to know how creative, how passionate, how crazy BRILLIANT you are! You can do these things rocking mom jeans or skinny jeans, because what you wear does not impact your worth Mamas! And to anyone who says different? Well show them your middle finger and walk away.

Before you start thinking I am standing high on my feminist soapbox, please understand, I am not anti-beauty.  Last Sunday I had the pleasure of being part of a photo shoot for an acquaintance who is a photographer wanting some creative photos to add to her portfolio.  The pictures turned out breathtakingly beautiful.

What the pictures don’t show are the two hours before hand I spent getting my hair and makeup done. And the hours after the shoot the photographer spent photoshopping the photos to get the “look” she was going for.

It was a fun experience and I enjoy looking at the pictures but I certainly wouldn’t put these anywhere near the top of my proudest accomplishments list.

Lately I have been thinking about labels in my own life. I go to for monthly dinner dates with a group of mom friends we call “Yummy Mommies Night Out”. We take this opportunity to change out of our mom uniform, yoga pants and hoodies, to get decked up in dresses and heels. As someone who enjoys fashion I don’t have a problem with this. Fashion is a fun way to express outwardly how your feel inwardly.

Most of our dinner conversation revolves around our careers, families, parenting, travel, and love lives. These friends of mine are interesting women and frankly I could care less if one of them decided to skip the beauty routine and showed up with her hair in a greasy ponytail and PJ pants. I’m there for the conversations, for the friendship and for, quiet honestly, a break from the fart jokes that currently dominate our family dinner table.

So does the label “Yummy Mommies” accurately define this group of women? No. No, it really doesn’t even come close to describe how amazing I think these women are. Maybe we should rename ourselves the “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Mommies”. That’s how awesome we are!

Actually maybe we should just rename all the “Hot Moms” groups “The Awesome Moms”.

Hot Moms= Women who look good in skinny jeans (or whatever the current uncomfortable trend is).

Awesome Moms= Smart, Intelligent, Funny, Savvy, Creative, Beautiful (inside and out) Women!

Just putting it out there. It’s not just your hotness that makes you awesome, because let me reassure you all the moms at my studio rocking the spit up covered sweats with huge smiles on their faces are awesome. The moms who sing, on and off key, while bouncing their smiling babies on their knees are awesome! The moms who need a hug and a shoulder to lean on when the world of sleepless nights, round the clock feedings, colicky babies, and post partum depression feels like too much are AWESOME!

You know what? You are awesome!

100% awesome!

Interested in being part of the change, not just for moms, but for all awesome women? Sign the pledge over at www.missrepresentation.org and join in on the awesome movement they are creating!