I have time to be a hot mom? Get serious!
By Esme Infante Nii
By Esme Infante Nii
If today's column seems brimming with bile, blame it on my black stilettos.
No, they're not pinching me. They're idling in the closet, just as they should be on a typical day in the life of a real mom in the real world. I bought them years ago, when I was childless and unworried about money. It would be stupid to wear them now on days when I'm in boroboros, chasing my kids around. If I wore spikes, say, herding my feisty preschooler and 30-pound toddler through Longs, I'd snap a heel, and they'd escape with the Cheetos. Not to mention, the obaasans in the aisles would cluck and say, "What, forgot your slippers? Try look Aisle 3."
But I digress. The point is that even while my stilettos are on the sidelines, I feel like they're tapping this irritating tattoo on my brain, nagging me about why I'm not strapping them on every day to leap on to the bandwagon of the so-called new "hot mom" movement.
In case you're a real-world mom who's often too busy to catch up on current events, here's your crash course in Hot Mom 101: It is not enough to hold down a demanding job, raise kids, nurture a relationship and run a household. You're supposed to look sexy and feel super while you're doing all of the above, too.
So says Los Angeles mom Jessica Denay, who's written "The Hot Moms Handbook" and now boasts a fan club claiming 300,000 members, celebrity endorsements, a TV show, and a "Hottest Mom" contest in 10 cities. So, too, says pharmaceutical company Medicis, which has its own unrelated "America's Hottest Mom" TV contest.
Sense the marketing vultures circling your minivan?
Now, part of Denay's spiel does ring true. She says moms should find ways to feel more empowered, that they shouldn't have to abandon their sense of self or sense of fun. She calls on every mom to release her "inner siren" and take better care of herself, for the sake of her soul and her family.
But where things start to go awry is where Denay and Medicis lose touch with real-world American moms. For starters, the logo on Denay's book and Web site is the silhouette of a curvy mom with a toddler clinging to her flared jeans and platform heels, and a baby in her arms who is oddly uninterested in ruining her Beyoncé-big 'do. Denay chirpilly advises moms to wear heels and lip gloss often, indulge in art classes, conceal naughty lingerie under your PTA-meeting attire.
Medicis, meanwhile, says ideal moms are "sexy, engaging, confident," and they "turn heads wherever they go."
Now, I'm for whatever makes moms feel empowered and happy. Yes, we should try to look nice for ourselves and our mates ... when it's practical. Yes, we should make time to nurture ourselves and have fun ... when it's possible.
But that moms ought to be "hot" is a deceptively corrosive message. Moms already bear enough pressure without the suggestion that they've failed if, in the midst of baby vomit and dirty laundry, they are not fully self-realized and don't look Angelina Jolie-gorgeous.
Which brings me to one mommy friend's hubby,who is hassling her about how Angelina Jolie can look like a million bucks even while raising kids. Well, a million bucks buys nannies, housekeepers, chefs, beauty experts, personal trainers and a saucy wardrobe. She looks a million bucks, indeed.
The idea that a woman can and should be all things — madonna mother, paycheck workhorse, bedroom vixen — is not new. Recall that 1970s perfume jingle: "I can bring home the bacon / Fry it up in a pan /And never, ever let you forget you're a man / 'Cause I'm a woman ... Enjoli!" It is wonderful to know today's moms can be all those things if they choose, and if they have the means. But at the same time, we don't need the reverse suggestion that we are somehow failing if we are not all those things.
A truly hot mom — make that a truly smart mom — knows many things in her life need attention but can discern the trivial things that can wait. She can tell which advice to keep, which to discard. When it's time for lip gloss, and when it's better to chuck it so she can smooch her babies and her mate. She knows there is a season for everything — seasons for baby barf, seasons for stilettos, each in its time. Wisdom. Now, that's hot.