While dressing for the day on a recent morning, the realization hit me like a ton of bricks. My jeans are “Mom Jeans.” They are roomy, comfortable, dark wash, and high-waisted enough that when I lean over or sit on the floor I don’t expose myself. Momentarily, I was filled with shame. What had become of the fashionable New Yorker I once was? Had my standards sunk so low that I was satisfied with mediocrity? I was horrified. Then, mid-thought stream, I stopped. “Wait a minute,” I reasoned, “Who in the world created this stupid phrase anyway and why should it shame me? God forbid I wear clothes that are comfortable and allow me to do my most important job on this planet with ease: mothering.” Then came the rage.
All of a sudden, I realized I was holding in my hands a concrete example of how our culture devalues mothers and objectifies women. Where are the “Dad Jeans????” I wondered. It felt so bizarre to even contemplate that phrase. Why would there be Dad Jeans? Dads are allowed to wear whatever they want without any real thought about how it impacts their attractiveness and what it means to their worth or identity. God forbid a woman prioritize comfort, color or style over what is deemed attractive the way men regularly do. If she does, that item of clothing might receive a special moniker. I can see it now, “Lazy Mom Sweaters,” or “Cool Mom Shoes.” The possibilities are endless. Ugh.
Hello, world, it is time to get real and get really respectful: Moms can, should, and do wear any freaking jeans they want. Loose, tight, low-waisted, high-waisted, patches, bling, plain, whatever. THEY ARE JEANS and it is time we stopped stereotyping women by telling moms who they are and what they should or should not wear. One thing I’ve learned as a mother is that moms come in all shapes, sizes, and preferences (including sexual orientation). Let’s honor the variety and breadth of the mothering community and lose the judgment about who and what moms are supposed to be, or not be. I’m a mother whether or not I choose to show my ass crack.
In an ironic twist, one company responded to the Mom Jeans phenomenon by calling their company “Not Your Daughter’s Jeans.” What in the world does that mean? Is that another name for “Mature Jeans That Cover Your Ass?” I don’t know. The whole thing just smacks of sexism. There are tons of mothers who choose to wear jeans just like their daughters—depending on their own preferences and those of their daughter. Yeah, great idea Not Your Mother’s Jeans…let’s stereotype daughters so they can get used to it before they become mothers. Daughter Jeans, Mom Jeans, …where are the SON JEANS, I ask?
I am so sick of trying to be everything for everyone. Go ahead, tell me that is my choice and I don’t have to. You’re right. But to say that, and that alone, ignores the enormous pressure women, especially mothers, feel in our society to be everything for everyone. We should raise smart and well-adjusted children while eating organic, going to the gym, keeping the house clean-ish, working, posting on Facebook, having sex with our partners, contributing to society by being an informed citizen, and being fabulous enough to avoid “Mom Jeans.”
Can we let that go? Can we go back to calling jeans “jeans” and let mothers choose, without shaming or interference, how they want to understand their mothering identity and what that means for their wardrobes (if anything)?
Can we get a little more space for women in this world to be more than how we look at what we wear? Women create life and sustain life. We deserve a lot more than “special” jeans for it.
Claire is a mother, practicing psychotherapist, and co-creator of HonestMamas.com.
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