Sunday, October 18, 2009
Blue Jean Mama
I had this conversation in Starbucks the other day - which is, actually, where I have most conversations. If I am not in one, or clutching that skinny hazelnut extra whip latte - well then, I am grousing around trying to figure out where the next fix is coming from. To that end, I have often wanted to be the CEO of Starbucks; The guy who decides who gets caffeine. Piss him off and look out, Jacksonville; your Monday morning is about to suck like it has never sucked before. I digress.
Anyway, on my way to an obligation in the morning, I was in an extra long boot leg and slender Weitzman sandals, with four inch heels under the boot leg, and a baby tee. Now in New York in that get-up, no one stares. But here at the beach, that is a going-out or stayed-out look. Not that I care. I was not a pro in this business to have my clothes dictated by people in terry-cloth mumu's and black wedge-heel flip flops (ugh, I die.). And anyway, I was done and blown, not just rolled out of bed. Because I do not truck that look either (I really die).
The gentleman in front of me turned to me and said, somehow still a pitch-perfect gentleman, "I love jeans and high heels. Man, that is sexy." Without ever really looking at me, and certainly without leering, so I did not feel intruded upon; Just matter of fact. In the same tone of voice I imagine he might say, morning, nice day.
"Thank you." I said. And I realized then, I felt myself again; visible, as I had been before my first daughter.
Just beyond him were my two little girls: Glorious gifts, the most precious things I have ever known. I remain unclear as to why I was blessed with them. But the process (even though, in both cases, I gained less than 25 pounds, and had babies of 7.3 pounds), was like the mighty wrath of hell had shown no mercy on my figure. Let me be clear: Like hell with the hide off. In both instances, I weighed less after than before the first pregnancy. Only, things do not return to the same places. And those things I am referring to are absolutely critical to being able to stand to look at myself or wear jeans. But the heels help.
And while it is good to hear his remark, two years ago, I was a glam fashionista with a bottom line in my fist, not a flinch in my soul, and a closet stocked to the rafters with black Italians (cashmere and shoes, that is). Now, the black Italians sneer and cast aspersions at me as I reach for a t-shirt or some other cotton thing. I can hear my colleagues in New York, "Damn, girl! Did you develop a wool allergy?"
My life is way more glamorous now than it ever was. What with the spit up, glitter glue, and mud; most days I am the Jackson Pollock of motherhood! Which is to say, I curled up and died in my clothes in comparison to where I stood before this road trip through Not Sexy Nurtureville began.
And I hate that. I mean deep, deep down, both my vanity and good sense is aware of how very much less sexy being a Mama is. And I know, I will get hate mail again (save your key strokes, seriously) for saying it but, I was not willing to give up being glamorous or sexy and I defy you to show me where, in that binding contract of six years ago, it said: Wife/mother will agree to complete degradation of her physical plant, wear clothing and footwear to "feel comfortable and play", reduce makeup to bear minimum only so as not to be confused with local wildlife and thus prevent being rounded up by animal control and/or disgusted police, and wear as many outfits as can be created from, and confused with, circus tents - as possible. Aspire to make chambray shirts by hand and wear them over your old Prana yoga pants, from back when you were a hip city kitty. Learn to make doll clothes from leftover bedding at the Salvation Army and make yourself and the kiddies shirts to match. Success will be measured in general disheveledness, sexless demeanor, and your ability to fade easily into beige walls.
I mean it, show me the freaking thing.
As so often happens in these teeny snips of conversations (always in Starbucks), two things occurred to me: 1) They will not take me alive. 2) The sexy blue-jeaned Mama is not an iconic image, but she should be.
And this is her belly. No tuck. That is what it looks like, for those of you who have not had the pleasure of a once skating rink-flat ab adjusted for babies.
I am still uncertain as to who "they" are who are reinforcing Mama-as-Mess, but can only surmise "they" are an angry bunch of Twinkie-toting, triple-thick army green polar fleece wearing, clog-clonking, hermaphrodites who traffic in motherhood guilt scenarios and dole out useless diet pills while promising you that you will never have to exercise or get outside again.
But why? Would anyone want to wear that? Or believe that? Who does not want to feel sexy? Give me her name. I will call her.
By the same token, the reverse effort can go too far as well: My baby doc mentioned that he had recently delivered a woman's third child - all three by requested C-section for preservation (not going there, not today) - once the child was delivered, he moved aside for the plastic surgeon standing by for her tummy tuck right then and there. She wanted to get the trauma of both experiences over with right then. Both surgeons had advised her against this: No one could tell where her abdomen would settle; she should wait on the tuck until they had some idea how things would shake out, literally. Within three months of the delivery and surgery, the long and angry scar, which she desperately wanted hidden in her bikini line, was directly under her navel.
She wrote a check to a swank hospital in Westchester for $65,000 for the pleasure. That is a drastic and desperate road to see a glimmer of one's former self but part of me hears her clearly though this wilderness.
I'm not interested in blaming society or men or magazines for making Mama's less beautiful. This is an individual responsibility. Your responsibility to yourself; not Anna Wintour's, okay?
Nor it is not a confidence thing; I remain sure-footed in that regard. But, if choices were involved, I would pick my former figure. Or not to have known that figure at all if I could have seen this coming. No, it's not bad now. But before, it was different and it was the body I knew and enjoyed.
This notion, of the still sexy mama in blue jeans got me thinking about a girl who is still photographed a thousand times a day and whose body has known these traumas, bearing the marks as a proud and beautiful banner to her second career.
It does have to change. But you are no less sexy.
Get out those high heels and jeans and when the mother's group looks at you cross ways, wink. And hope it influences them.