I had no idea as I finally looked at my 9 month pregnant silhouette that the road ahead would be quite so riddled with chasms of peril cloaked in satin, spite, and foam. I’d always expected to have boys, so each of my three daughters was a huge departure from what I’d imagined. I wouldn’t trade them for the world, nor do I think that I have it easier or harder than parents of boys, singles, twins, only children, or fur babies.
I am, before and after children, a woman. I began as a tomboy, awkwardly growing into a flirtation with applying a cat eye with black, liquid liner (never did it). I discovered that regardless of how I dressed or what I aspired to, being a woman in the workplace comes with surprises (or disappointments depending on how far you thought we’d come).
Writing about raising daughters has taking me down many paths, from railing against “Real Women” to raging against the downplaying of violence against women and sexual abuse. I’ve addressed my concerns about how weight may come to play a more starring role in their lives than is healthy.
I haven’t been alone in this. People, from individual bloggers to global companies have tried addressing the issues that hit home with me as a mom of daughters. I understand when people resist a message because of its source, case in point this video, which I think is brilliant, from Sarah Silverman, who can be very salty. She speaks honestly and from the heart about pay equality and sexism. I hear her as the human being that she is; her humor makes no difference to me because she is shining a light on something that needs all the light it can get.
I feel exactly the same way about the Dove campaigns. If we can speak aloud the idea that we are all worthy, than maybe we all begin to feel better. Maybe life stops feeling like we are all trying to rebound the same damn ball and we quit throwing elbows and drawing BS fouls stops.
The latest thing to wedge a massive divide between women seems to be the #ImNoAngel campaign. Using beautiful photography and gorgeous women, Lane Bryant has mounted a campaign to offer a counterpoint to the Victoria’s Secret Angels and “redefine sexy”.
I get it. I’ve been in the mall and had to pass window displays with perfectly airbrushed images of women who shimmer with everything most of us are not; most of them aren’t either without the assistance of a graphic designer. I’ve felt less than as the build up to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue reaches a fever pitch.
I just don’t think that the solution is to take sexy away from anyone. Shouldn’t we be trying to give it to all of us? Or maybe even try saying that life isn’t about being sexy, feeling sexy is just one small part of being alive. What makes us feel sexy is going to evolve over time.
The #ImNoAngel hashtag, which by the way as a person in the advertising industry makes me nod my head and think, “Well played.” As a woman and mother it makes me feel like here we go again, let’s start another fight about who is better.
The either/or and good/bad positioning perpetuates a one upmanship of womanliness or authenticity. I am one of the people who has lived between angel and not, never quite plus size, never ever busty and slim. I do love the flutter of feeling desirable, but the more solid foundation (heh, bra humor) is feeling powerfully multidimensional.
I am smart.
Curvy and sinewy.
Rough and delicate.
Dear Kates did a great job of representing, celebrating, and designing for different shapes. The thing that felt so good about what they did was that they seemed to be saying, “Women are amazing.” Not these women or those women, but all women.
The reality of the culture we live in is that sex or scandal sells. Since someone decided at some point that we’d villainize women over a size 10, Lane Bryant had to take a somewhat racy, attack position to get a foothold in the media. I do understand that, but I want to feel good about standing behind them, in some ways it feels like they are putting all of us in a fight we never started.
My hope is that we can use our voices and our spending habits to work toward a time when we all have people we see in the media or in catalogs that represent us.
I want my three daughters, who are shaped in wildly different ways and drawn to different things, to feel seen and heard. I don’t want them pitted against one another for being more appealing or more feminine than the other. May there be clothes that are crafted for the broad shoulders and long torso of my middlest, petite patterns with edge for my free-spirited, first born, a gnarly mix of black and textural fabrics that can handle my youngest’s athletic ways. Options outside of pink, but as important as options, the acknowledgement that shape and style don’t make us better or worse than other women.
Not a single one of us is an angel; we are women and we are fantastic.