The New York Times has hit a nerve this week with their article Is the ‘Mom Job’ Really Necessary? At first I thought I was going to be pissed off because it was going to say that being a mom, as your job, was not “necessary” to society. But, hold on, it’s worse than that.
This article asks, is post-partum plastic surgery, to correct sagging breasts, stomachs, and thighs, REALLY necessary? Well, what the hell kind of question is that? Of COURSE it’s not necessary. A “muffin top” is not a burst appendix; it’s not even a potentially impacted wisdom tooth. Cosmetic plastic surgery is never “necessary.” But that’s not the message that we mothers are receiving these days.
“Narrowing beauty norms are recasting the transformations of motherhood as stigma,” author Natasha Singer warns, and she does hit the nail on the head there. I think that our mothers didn’t worry about saggy breasts or stomachs after they had had children. Maybe they wished they weren’t there, but they would never have deemed it “necessary” to change them. They were simply what a mother’s body looked like. You weren’t supposed to wear bikinis when you were pushing 40, anyhow.
Now, in addition to having perfect children, we are supposed to have perfect, barely pubescent-looking bodies that bear no signs of having borne children whatsoever. If Denise Richards can pose for Playboy ten minutes after having her second child, then what are you doing wearing that Land’s End one-piece?
Singer does give plenty of ink to saner voices who argue that this pathologization of women’s bodies is way out of hand, and even dangerous. And maybe she didn’t write the title of her own article. But I found it offensive that there was any suggestion that such surgeries could ever be “necessary.” And the New York Times has now given lots of free ink to sites like amommymakeover.com, which is only too happy to point out all the things that are wrong with you once you “lose your hourglass figure.” Come on, let’s all take amommymakeover.com’s Mommy Quiz:
Take Our Mommy Quiz
How many times have you wondered if cosmetic surgery could improve your appearance and outlook? Now its easier than ever to find out. Just answer a few short questions and we’ll give you some helpful tips on how to look your best.
Which area of your body has changed most since childbirth?
My thighs and hips are heavier than they used to be.
My stomach looks stretched out and flabby.
My breasts don’t look like they used to.
My face is really starting to show my age.
Specifically, what concerns you about your thigh and hip area?
Those notorious “saddlebags” just won’t go away.
I feel like cellulite is popping up everywhere.
I have uncomfortable chafing between my thighs.
What would you say about your abdominal area?
I’ve given up trying to slim my tummy.
I exercise and eat right, but my stomach just doesn’t look good.
My stomach is pretty flat, but I’m embarrassed by stretch marks.
Which of these statements do you most agree with?
My breasts are stretched and sagging.
I wish my breasts could look perky again.
I miss the larger breasts I enjoyed during pregnancy.
When you look at your face in the mirror, what would you most like to change?
My eyes look tired and make me appear old.
My face and neck skin is beginning to sag.
I have wrinkles and unwanted facial hair.
I have breakouts or other skin imperfections.
What other area would you say could use some attention?
My thighs and hips
That’s it! Hit the ‘submit’ button to find out what Mommy Makeover procedures would be right for you.
Notice, there’s no option to say, actually, my face looks fine. My stomach looks like I’ve had three children, and who cares? And at every turn, you’re invited to click on what ELSE, what IN ADDITION, has been horribly disfigured by the ravages of pregnancy and childbirth.
I think mothers have to take a stand here. Our breasts, stomachs, thighs, and faces aren’t bad. Aren’t ugly. They are badges we should wear proudly. If men were the ones to go through having children, they’d walk around with their shirts hiked up to proudly display their stretch marks and muffin tops at all times. The worse their bodies looked, the more they would be revered by their peers. Look what I have endured, they would say. I am man, hear me roar. Why can’t we do the same?