There's always one in the bunch: The sexy mom with the tousled hair, perfect boobs, toned arms, long legs and solid butt all in one package and always showcased all at once. (I do love her. Honestly. If you've got it, go for it woman.) She's in a low-cut
blouse at the school fundraiser, tight jeans at the park, spiked heels at the
toddler's birthday party. (We've all got our own desperate and ridiculous
experiments to own up to from
our early new mom days. Didn't I look like an a-hole back then?)
Wear the heels. Squeeze into the pencil skirt. Let the cleavage get more sun. So what if your black bra shows through your white tank a bit? It's on trend. We are women. We are moms. We are sexy
hear us roar. Even after babies.
Except there comes a time to reel it all in. Not all the time, but there are times.
As a woman who most often opts for a two-piece swimsuit (mostly because of the padded push-up benefits that just aren't the same with a one piece—hey I'm being real here), I've realized: Being a mom can blur that line between people's perception of seeing you as sexy or slutty. A sexy outfit on a non-mom can be quickly misread as slutty when you accessorize it with loud preschoolers, a stroller and the diaper bag you still use sometimes just because it holds so much stuff. "Why is she wearing those short shorts with heels when she's towing kids around? What's she trying to prove?" The mere appearance of children alongside us changes things, especially the way others perceive us.
I don't defend it (it sucks!) but it is what it is.
Not long ago, my sister texted me a
picture of a clothing boutique's window display showcasing mannequins with
spaghetti-strapped, form-fitting, mid-thigh-high minidresses propped alongside two baby
strollers. I texted back a "woohoo! love it" and expressed how I thought it was such a fun and
long-overdue display of the new, sexy, young modern mom ... until my sister called the picture out for its "slutty dresses" (yes, that's a quote) and questioned why any business owner
would create such a stupid scene with "slutty" clothes and strollers side by side for a storefront window.
We must remember that the way we dress does influence how others think of us. We can't control that reality.
Sure, it's a matter of taste (I live in liberal Los Angeles and all) but it was also a major reality check, especially coming from her (my sister's past activities involve wearing miniskirts to church). It quickly hit me: Crap... I'm a MOM now.
Am I dressing slutty and just don't know it? [Doomsday music here.]
I thought some more. When I first became a mom, I did everything in my power to resist looking frumpy. (A stupid priority, I know. We all have our thing.) My pre-baby and post-baby style never really evolved. I still shopped at some of those stores (you know the ones) after becoming a mom. I look back at some pictures and think, Overcompensation. Do I look like a tramp pushing my stroller around in platformed wedges and tight jeans? Do salesgirls whisper about and judge me when I'm in their boutique trying on leg-baring dresses and stilettos while my preschooler and toddler entertain themselves on the dressing room floor?
I suddenly felt mortified.
So I asked my friend: What's the difference between dressing like a sexy mom and a slutty mom?
"A slutty mom hits on other moms' husbands at school events." (In the clear on that one.)
"Brooke Burke-Charvet versus Kim Kardashian." (Sorry Kim. Her quote, not mine.)
"A slutty mom tries to sex everything up and let it all hang out all at one time when she's with her kids." This one intrigued me.
So is it OK to let more things "hang out" when you're not with your kids?Or when you know your kids won't see you? (She paused.) "I'm not sure. Maybe. If your kids and your mother-in-law don't see you then why not go for it if you're with your husband?"
We laughed. (Obviously knowing the difference between what's appropriate, acceptable and just plain tasteless in the name of self-respect and modern feminism.)
Moral of the story? We all judge each other on the way we look, especially moms. You know you have. I have too. (Like I said before: I don't defend it.) Yes, it's disrespectful to pass judgment on someone you don't really know based on the way they're dressed, but we must remember that the way we dress does influence how others think of us. We can't control that reality.
I've started to check myself ... for my kids' sake (how 1950s of me).
A stylist friend (who's also a mom) put it to me this way: Make an extra effort to consider what's really appropriate for when. Miniskirts don't mix with church or children. (Well duh.) Plunging necklines don't belong at a PTA function (even if it is adults-only). Keep wearing your sexy pieces, but in separate pieces. Tight pants and tight skirts call for a looser blouses. A cleavage-baring top needs high-waisted pants. We're not celebrities.
Even if we're having a junk of a day and need to remind ourselves of our sexier, younger, more carefree days with a wild wardrobe choice just for the sport of looking in the mirror and saying, "Hey, Mama's still got it," we can't peg it on "media branding" (like JLo does) and get away with it. Unless we're on vacation with our spouse, when we can then wear the tight-ass skirt with a slit, cleavage-baring crop top, spiky stilettos and who knows what else you've got tucked away from your pre-baby days. (No one knows you're a mom when you're on a grown up vacation, right?)
Because the last thing we want, as moms, is to unexpectedly run into one of our kids' instructors at the local date night restaurant and overhear her boyfriend question, "Wasn't she dressed a little slutty for a mom?" as we walk away. (Yes, it happens.)