Bein' a Mommy is a Mutha
I was enjoying a beautiful Mother’s Day when I picked up my phone to glance at socials and saw that the hashtag #MILF was trending. Dear God in heaven. Why? Why is this trending?
I had never heard the term until one of my son’s hockey games years ago when he came storming out of the dressing room rip roaring mad about something. He wouldn’t even talk. I kept asking what happened but he was clammed up tight and refused to say a word. He seemed so hurt and confused and just plain furious about something. Only later did I hear that one of his teammates had said to him that I, his mother, was...wait for it...a MILF. And someone had to explain to me what it meant which made me laugh out loud. Instantly, I understood why my son had been so upset. He took it as a sign of disrespect and was likely confused by someone finding me, his mother, attractive in some way. I laughed because I took it as a compliment on some level. After having so many kids, the idea that someone out there still found me attractive in some, even crude and demeaning way, was surprising and I was slightly amused.
But my son most definitely was not.
There seems to be this invisible line between "desirable" and "mother"and once you cross over into Motherland, somehow, society is not supposed to see you as desirable anymore. I am both fascinated and confused by it. Why can't we reconcile that women can be both desirable and mothers at the same time? Men can procreate and still be considered desirable and...get this...dad bods are trending as sexy now! Which is awesome because all bodies are amazing. But women are still fighting for that same privilege.
Some women are fighting these preconceived notions with a bravery I wish I could harness, boldly asserting that women are desirable before AND after giving birth in brilliant ways. I came across the most powerful post I've seen on socials to date; a re-posted by my FB friend (thank you, Jennifer!!) from The Birds Papaya. An amazing page created by Sarah, a mom of 4, bravely posting content showing the changes her body has gone through in becoming a mother but from a desirability angle. It stopped me in my tracks...and moved me to my core. This beautiful, incredible woman sharing her vulnerabilities for the world to see. And making a damn good point.
And here I am freaking out, hiding in my closet trying on bathing suits, judging every square inch feeling mostly disgusted with myself. I wish I had an ounce of the courage Sarah has. How did she get there?
Why do I feel the way I do? I still feel that I have only earned the right to feel good in my body once I reach some outside standard of beauty set by...set by whom exactly? The beauty industry. The clothing industry. Seems like everywhere around me. I am from a different generation - we've been subjected to more decades of conditioning. We have much more programming to undo! I'm scrolling and reading Sarah's content and notice my roller coaster of emotions....amazement, shock, envy, inspiration. I want to feel as free as she does.
I understand why I feel the way I do. I grew up acutely aware that my appearance was very important. The messaging I picked up was that the outside of me was more valuable than the inside of me and that I needed to meet other's expectation of how I should look. And that, in turn, laid the foundation to marry someone critical of my appearance - always eyeing what I was wearing, giving the unspoken nod of approval or suggesting what I should wear instead, dropping hints I should really exercise more (for my health, of course), etc. This is also why I am still acutely aware that someone, somewhere is judging whether I am a MILF...or a GILF...or a Cougar...or whatever new label they come up with. I am, as a woman, always being measured.
What I've come to finally understand is that I am the one with the power to set my own standard of beauty and desirability. Only I can change the way I feel about my body. And I can choose how I respond to being measured - I can let myself be triggered, I can laugh it off, I can ignore it...the optimal words being "I CAN".
Me. I get to decide.
Thank you, Sarah, for the reminder. I will keep your page close the next time I try on a bathing suit - and because of you, I am a little closer to being as brave and free as we should all be!
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