Since when did “looking like a mom” become a fashion no-no?

When my In Style magazine arrives, a certain joy overcomes me. Though hard to articulate, it’s what I imagine kids feel on Christmas morning — a cocktail (I’m after all a 40 year old kid) of anticipation, excitement, wonder and surprise. A cocktail quenched in large part when the first tear into the wrapping paper resounds. Same for the swish of the cover when I delve into what many, including myself, deem the working woman’s fashion bible (no offense to Anna Wintour, of course, but most of us only delight and not indulge in the fashion that decorates the pages of THE fashion bible).

As I ruffled through the advertisements and features, I came to an article entitled “The Ultimate Swimsuit Challenge.” I hate swimsuits, but always like a challenge.  Intrigued, my eyes scrolled down to the center pictures of 3 one-piece swim suits. The first was a coral suit adored with wide wicker fabric bands. The second looked like a something a Sports Illustrated Model would wear – high cut legs, low cut back and front, adored with a zipper front that zipped down to mid-belly. Provocative, for sure. The third looked like something Miley Cyrus would wear in concert should she and Madonna ever reprise Madonna’s Blond Ambition Tour, performing “Vogue,” minus the cones but with the exposed underwire.  That or someone who wanted to wear lingerie to the pool. Immediately beneath these photos are these words:

YOUR MISSION: To buy a one-piece that your mom wouldn’t go anywhere near”

I paused. I blinked a few times and re-read it. Yup, that’s what is said. “A one-piece “your” mom wouldn’t go anywhere near. At first, I agreed. They were absolutely right: my mom, as lovely as she is, would never — even at the price of her own head–go near any of these suits. No grandmother of 4, or even one, should go near those suits.

But then I realized that I’m a mom. Was this article meant for me? Should I not go near any of these suits? From the looks of them, I can’t say that I would because, let’s be honest, they are the least flattering suits any woman should ever wear unless you and Gisele are body doubles. The low cut legs won’t flatter anyone. The tops have no support for anyone with a chest. Last time I checked, few people’s physiques are flattered by large contrasting white bands across their mid section. The headline should have instead read: If you are a woman, don’t go near ANY of these suits. Danger ahead.

But ultimately, the images were not what bothered me the most (though I have serious misgivings about this particular fashion editor’s taste and styling abilities as these are FAR FROM the “it” one pieces of the season).  What bothered me was what was SO WRONG with looking like a mom??

Fundamentally, I understand what the article was referring to: the overly demure, unflattering images of women wearing the jeans of the late 70’s and early 80’s — the ones our “moms” happen to wear –because that was what was available at the time for women of childbearing age postpartum: jeans with too high a waist, too short an inseam, that hugged in all the wrong places. However, let’s be honest. Sure, today’s fashion rules condemn those of that era. But then again, many women were not expected to “look good” when they were “only at home, raising babies.” (There are SO many things wrong with the statement “only raising babies.” Just remember that these are the women raising the pilot flying your plane;  the cardiovascular surgeon who will perform that heart transplant; the mechanic who will fix your brakes so your car can actually stop when you apply them.)  What need for fashion existed in the home in those days? It was needed because women needed to feel like women. They did then, and they do now.  It’s why Diane Von Furstenburg’s wrap dress was SO successful: the working woman needed a wardrobe that made her look like a woman and be a mom and everything else to everyone in her life.  In fact, only recently did it become “en vogue” for celebrities to showcase their bumps. The “bump watch” has become  a paparazzi obsession — regardless of whether there is a bump to watch.  Pregnancy and post-pregnancy fashion is a recent phenomenon – and the industry is booming because being a mom is en vogue. All of the celebrities are doing it after all!

jessica biel  milablake lively

The point is that embracing motherhood and dressing like a mom is and should be a good thing – desirable, even.  When a woman has a baby, she perpetuates survival of the species — and guess what, it’s the one thing a MAN WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO DO. She should look great doing it: from the moment of conception through the rest of that child’s life. The reason is simple and has nothing to do with beauty and perfection. The reason is because it’s our right, our privilege and our gift. So, if my postpartum belly hangs out a bit because I’m afraid to go under the knife or freeze it off via Cool-Sculpt; I have some spandex ruching on my one-piece bathing suit, or because my breasts sag a little too much and you’re offended, too bad.  I’m fine with looking and dressing like a “mom”  – any day, every way because I am a mom. And I’m lucky.  If you dress to be something other than who you are, or to “hide” your motherhood, I’m thinking there’s much more at play other than a lack of style. And that’s the biggest fashion “no-no” of all.

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