You know those conversations that feel normal until you have a moment to reflect on what was said? I’m still thinking about one I had recently. I was having dinner with a friend after work and the subject turned to spring and clothing.
Me: “I need to go shopping.”
Friend: “Fewer stripes. You look like a mom.”
Me: “I am a mom.”
Friend: “Yeah, but you’re a hot mom.”
Let’s all take a moment to collect our thoughts on this one, shall we? At first the words “you look like a mom” didn’t register in a negative way. It felt more like a statement of fact. Yes, I am a mom; that is correct. Then came “but you’re a hot mom.”
My first internalized thought was “heck yes, I am!” My pride quickly subsided, though, as logic took over. While my friend did not intentionally give me a backhanded compliment, that is certainly what it was. Our visit ended, but the words stuck with me. When I got home I almost immediately headed for my closet. I opened the doors and muttered a few obscenities under my breath. An army of stripes were staring at me. Mocking me, even.
When did trying to not look like a mom become a thing? Do we really need to add that to the “mommy wars” conflict? Really?! I did what any sane mom would do: ranted to my tribe of other moms via social media and text messages. This started conversations on backhanded compliments and mom culture stereotypes. You know the caricature—wine-drinker-wears-messy-bun-and-yoga-pants-to-Target type stuff. There is not a mom on the planet who has time to do that every day. That is why people post pictures on social media when they can be the mom at Target post-wine—it’s a treat!
If we’re going to talk about what we’re wearing, I would say that I tend to be that overdressed mom at bike rodeo, or the mom who wears a suit to kite day. But whatever I’m wearing, I’m still a mom. And I have mom insecurities too. I prefer to think I have a classic style, but I also secretly wonder if I’m just boring.
My circular logic brings me back to the need to go shopping, and a nagging insecurity that the style gene is not part of my DNA. I hate spending hours shopping, and Pinterest terrifies me on many levels. Aside from my crafting inadequacy and brutal lack of patience, Pinterest reminds me of shopping only without the gratification of actually buying something. With this attitude I imagine my Nordstrom stylist rolling her eyes and wondering what she can do with me. Apparently the answer is stripes. In neutral colors.
I’ve joked for years that as a banker/professional mom my wardrobe falls into four categories: black, navy, grey and “other.” This “other” category mostly consists of patterned dresses, a dash of colorful leggings purchased in wine-induced moments of style optimism, and quarterly online shopping binges. My attempts to inject variety into my wardrobe have included several box services and personal shoppers from my favorite stores and brands. Annoyingly, they’ve all picked pieces from one of my “four categories.”
That is me in a nutshell: neutral and kinda basic, with a side of mom. And I’m tired—really tired—of worrying about what people think. Please don’t bring the fit mom, hot mom, SAHM, working mom, wino mom crap my way anymore. We’re all moms, and if stripes can bring solidarity, perfect! I guarantee you won’t look at stripes the same way again. #stripesforlife