Thursday, February 24, 2011

What Real Moms Look Like?

As I was spending some time reading blogs this week, I happened upon a post by Crystal Jigsaw entitled Curves in All the Right Places. Her well written post discusses the phony portrayal of "typical" women in catalogs. She notes, and I quote, "Why do catalogues insist on featuring skinny models to show off their products? It's one of my pet hates. I get so frustrated when I turn the pages, only to view similar looking young girls, always long hair, always slim and always lacking in the curvaceous department, staring at you from the page, trying to make me believe my size 16 figure will look just as good wearing the size 8 she is currently modelling. What a load of utter tosh!"

I could not agree more with her observation. (I also adore the use of her word "tosh"- I may start using it)

So I started to realize, while flipping through the latest arrival of "mommy magazines" to hit my mailbox, that the images you see in magazines for parents do not resemble IN ANY WAY what a real mom (or Dad) and her life looks like, either.

I subscribe to way more magazines than my bathroom breaks allow for I have time to actually read, so I often just skim through the photos until something catches my eye. And my collection runs the gamut from your "filthy-rich-mom-who-can-afford-designer-burpcloths" magazine to your "mother-earth-munchy-crunchy-mom" mag and everything in between. (And I promise I don't actually pay to subscribe to all these, Sweet Hubby, they are either free trials, gifts or free with whatever I got suckered into signing up for at the mini gym).

What I am seeing in these magazines are young, slim, healthy-looking moms who play ring-around-the-rosy with their adoring infants in fabulously furnished living rooms out of Architectural Digest. Last time I checked, that was clearly not me. I need to see some pictures of a mom whose runny-nosed kid is hanging on her leg as she opens a can of Spaghetti-o's next to a sink full of last night's dirty dishes that her husband may or may not have left in the kitchen when he got home from work around midnight.

Then I could relate.

And I love the photo of a "mother" in the article about getting your pre-preggers body back. I am sorry, but unless this magazine comes with a gift certificate to Dr. Nip/Tuck and his happy scalpel, there is no way my body will EVER. LOOK. LIKE. THAT.

Even the photos in the "natural parenting" magazines are totally misleading. Take one pic, for example, of a serene new mama, blissfully breastfeeding her baby in public. I have definitely nursed my babies in public places and it was anything but blissful or serene. A picture of me in this instance, would resemble a mama gorilla trying to hold a flailing baby pinned against her chest, while attempting to hide, no, not my breasts <gasp>, but all that sexy belly fat creeping out from under the nursing shirt that just doesn't fit the way it did the "nursing" model in the catalog.

How about the one of the jaunty, well-coifed working mom, in her snazzy suit, juggling a happy baby on one arm and her Coach briefcase on the other? I don't know how any mom can get out of the house without at least one yogurt stain on her clothes, and I can tell you, that my baby was rarely so jovial when I left the house.

Which brings me to the next question - where do they get all these happy freaking kids to pose for the pictures? Are they slipping something into the sippy cups or what? No mother gets to see so much enthusiasm and cooperation from her kids, ever! Especially when the camera is on them.

I understand that these magazines want to make mothering look healthy and happy and fun, because it truly is. But I think that sometimes when we see pictures like these, we can't help but feel a little inferior. It is hard to live up to the images planted in our brains by these super-model mommies living in the perfect home with their well-dressed kids and Pottery Barn lifestyle. Or by the super-eco-friendly mommies whose every waking moment is dedicated to raising enviro-conscientious, pesticide-free stewards of the Earth.

I do what I can to make sure my kids are well-adjusted, well-fed, and well-educated. But most of all, I want them to know that they are loved and that our life is just as it should be with them in it.

I think it would be nice to see some pictures that look like us, boogers and all, every once in a while.

Who is with me?


  1. Great post!

    I just found you through one of the Thursday blog hops. Have a great week!

    Amanda @

  2. Oh I so agree! I remember after my first baby wondering why I didn't go right back to my "old" self. My mag. always showed unrealistic views of a new mom. Would have been nice to see REAL moms just for my sanity!!! :)

  3. That's the problem with society. The message is always try to do this...get this...make this...

    It's so annoying.
    To be honest, I am not looking for pictures of real moms...I know many of them. Our moms were reals moms...aunts, friends, neighbors. I don't allow most magazines in my home for that reason. I don't need to feel that my body is not this or that way. That my meals don't look this or that way, or that I cannot afford this clothes or that appliance.

    More power to moms who see the contradictions and don't buy into it.

    Great post.

  4. I hate all the pregnant models...really? who the hell looks like that preggers? Not me and my water retaining, stretch marks all the way down the calves, sweaty, cheez doodle eating self...

  5. I personally would love to see one magazine mom or mom on tv with a c-section body (and not a c-section post-tummy tuck). Better yet, a picture of any of those magazine moms before coffee (and makeup), after a night with a child with an ear infection!

  6. Hmmmm... Now, let me think really hard about this.....
    I've never seen a magazine picture of a fat, biracial couple scrubbing oatmeal off the walls while their three gorgeous caramel-skinned children scaled furniture and ripped apart the computer.
    If I ever do, I will buy a lifetime subscription 'cause that's a magazine I could relate to.

  7. Following from Thirsty Thursday.

    Please come follow me at :)

    I have a $25 Jo-Ann's gift card giveaway going on right now :)

  8. Great post.

    I was watching a show on TV the other day that was talking about how they fake some of the photos in magazines. They actually said that it is rare for any photo in a magazine not to be brushed up. And I am not talking about the light air brushing that they used to do in the past to cover a few blemishes. They showed how they could take a photo of a woman and make her look much thinner then she was. It was insane. People spend so much time trying to live up to these ideals that aren't even real any more.

    Hopping over here from Thirsty Thursday. I'm a new follower.

    Wakela's World

  9. Great post! You're on a roll, mama! I just feel like these women are really missing the dark circles that plague me...despite the very expensive Clinique under eye cream that's supposed to make me look young and vibrant! I try to laugh at it instead of let it get to me because, seriously, it's absurd!


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