I admit that I laugh when someone tells a joke about "mom jeans." It's funny to think about high-waisted, pleated denim that comes up past my bellybutton. I like to think that my denim collection is a mom jeans-free zone.
But when someone starts in on "mom hair," I don't find it funny. I certainly wasn't laughing when I saw the New York Times article diagnosing that "mom hair" exists and pronouncing that we should do something about it. There are a hundred ways in which "Mom Hair: It Exists. Now What to Do About It" veers from the genuine humor in Tina Fey's Mom Jeans skit on Saturday Night Live into bona fide misogyny.
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For one thing, this article isn't a humorous piece. It's a call to action, reminding moms everywhere—both those of us trolling the suburban malls and those living life in the big cities—that we should do everything in our power to avoid unleashing the abomination known as the "mom bob" on the world around us.
No pressure, Moms. Just please don't be ugly, for God's sake.
Yes, here's one more thing to put on our to do lists, right after learning to nurse a human child 12 times every 24 hours, even though our nipples are cracked and bleeding.
No pressure, Moms. Just please don't be ugly, for God's sake. Do everything you can to stay hot.
Do I sound bitter? I don't mean to. But I just can't get behind male stylists telling mothers (and mothers-to-be) that that they should "plot" their hair strategy while still pregnant. That's exactly what stylist Juan Carlos Maciques recommends. I guess Mr. Maciques' clients don't have full-time jobs or other children to tend to. Maybe his clients can spend their third trimester concentrating on their hair. During my pregnancy I had bigger fish to fry, such as worrying about baby tearing a very delicate part of my body and passing my glucose test.
The article is emphatic that women should avoid the temptation to give into the postpartum mom bob, which is "longer-in-the-back, slightly-shorter-in-the-front bob that should read sleek but is inescapably frumpy." Mr. Maciques says he sees it all the time and it "falls short of flattering." We are urged to keep our hair long. Like Kate Middleton! She did it right because she kept her overall length but "cut bangs to camouflage fuzzy hairline regrowth."
But here's the deal. A postpartum woman has about a thousand things to worry about. Not only does she have learn how to take care of the new life that just launched out of her body, but she also has to deal with the wreckage of that body. There are leaky breasts, swollen nipples, scars and bleeding to contend with on a daily basis. There are also countless emotional shifts to manage as hormones rage. A woman's entire identity must be rejiggered in the wake of childbirth.
Maybe I don't want to worry about keeping my hair as cute as Kate Middleton's. Maybe I want a bob so that my hair doesn't get stuck in my breast pump.
And all these changes are happening while we endure less sleep that torture victims. It's a massively trying time, even if you have a perfect partner who takes every night feeding, your baby's latch is perfect, and you have helpful family members bringing delicious meals every night of the week. (And really, who has that?)
As an added bonus, as soon as we get more than six hours of sleep at one stretch, our hair starts to fall out. I'd never felt so undesirable. For any new mother who also thinks she might one day want to have sex again, these are dark days. I remember being overweight and in between clothes: maternity pants were too big, but my old pants were a distant dream. All I wanted was to feel pretty again, and my stringy, mangy hair was not helping.
My stylist must have come from the same school as Mr. Maciques. He shamed me out of getting a bob because it would look like "mom hair." Instead, he suggested blunt bangs, which looked ridiculous. But I was too tired to argue with him and I only had 45 minutes before I had to get back to my baby.
And that's the point. New moms are tired and strung out. We're losing our hair and fumbling around in our new role. Why can't we at least have our hair any damn way we please? Is that too much to ask?