by MIA FREEDMAN
Remember the term ‘mumsy’? It used to mean dowdy. Frumpy. Daggy. Until a decade ago, there was a pervasive sense that once you had a baby, you crossed over into the land of asexual invisibility. It was a time before Yummy Mummies. Or MILFs. There were just…..mothers and they usually drove station wagons and wore high waisted jeans in a non-ironic way.
I entered this land for the first time aged 25, massively daunted. None of my friends were there yet. They were still doing Tequila shots and sleeping in.
And since saturation media coverage of celebrity pregnancies and famous mothers hadn’t begun, my mental hard drive contained almost no pop culture imagery of motherhood.
I could vaguely recall Princess Diana being pregnant but she was a Princess. Then there was Benita from Playschool who I’d always revered as motherhood’s holy grail because she was always cheery, appeared deeply interested in craft and spent much of her time engaged in floor play. Oh, and Carol Brady. That’s how motherhood looked, right?
There was my own mum of course – my ultimate role model – but I had nobody around my age to give me visual clues.
Did I have to cut my hair and switch to Easy Listening? Must I rebuild my wardrobe around polar fleece and Crocs? Buy a Laura Ashley headband? Wear ballet flats? In the end, I did what most new mothers do and just muddled through in a haze of blind confidence and desperate insecurity.
When my son was just a few months old, there’s a photo of me breast-feeding him one evening before I went out to a work Christmas party. I’m wearing a short black dress that’s yanked to the side so he could grab a quick snack. I love what that image says about the different aspects of my new life, all crashing together as I tried to figure out who I was.
And that, for me, is how motherhood has rolled ever since. It’s about wearing a bunch of different hats and looking however you want. Being a mother and being sexually attractive do not have to be mutually exclusive. It’s about choices.
Pregnancy is the same. Remember when Demi Moore posed for the cover of Vanity Fair and freaked everyone out with her taboo-busting juxtaposition of pregnant and sexy? Now newstands are heaving with naked pregnant celebrities on magazine covers. This could be read as liberating. Or, alternatively, as exhausting. Has the pendulum swung too far from mumsy to yummy mummy? Does a woman not even get nine months respite from having to look hot?