“Mommy? Why don’t you look like her?”
It’s an innocent question I don’t expect to shatter my insides like a brick against glass. But it does, for so many reasons, when I see what my daughter is pointing to.
It’s an ad for matching mother/daughter dresses—pretty, pink, polyester and sized Petite. The mother is gorgeous—a stunning blonde with a tiny body, toned arms and legs, and a flat tummy only surgery can accomplish. The daughter looks up at her mother with admiration and love, something I haven’t seen from my seven-year-old since our breastfeeding days.
I look at my daughter, whose expression displays disgust and disappointment. I can see it on her face: Why are you so chubby? Why doesn’t your hair shine like hers? Why don’t you wear makeup and act feminine? Why don’t you look pretty so I can be proud of you, Mommy? She doesn’t say these things but I can see it in her eyes. And I feel it too.
It’s probably my fault. She was playing a game on my iPad and stumbled upon my Instagram. These days, any kid can practically trade stocks online by seven years old, so it was no surprise she’d already been scrolling through my feed. But it’s a shock to my system to realize that my daughter feels the same thing I do when I catch glimpses of Mommy Influencer posts: shame and self-loathing.
They’re all the same, too. Young (mostly white) women, between the ages of 25 and 35, with long, lustrous hair, a perfect heart-shaped face and pouty lips, tanned skin without any sign of sun damage, and toned, taut bodies. All six of their kids—each one a year apart (and you’re telling me that flat tummy is the product of “hard work”?)—are just as beautiful as she is, smiling for the camera in their adorably tailored outfits, which look more like mini adult wardrobes than anything small children would actually choose to wear. (What happened to kids wearing hideously bright graphic tees printed with images of the Little Mermaid or Spiderman?) These mommies are rays of sunshine, spouting either Bible verses or literary quotes taken out of context under photos of their family snuggling in their warm, cozy homes. But they have bad days, too, which can be noted when they smudge a bit of mascara under their eyes once every three months and admit that “parenting is messy.”
Listen, I don’t know what these women’s real lives are like, and for all I know, they might truly be miserable. But what matters is how they’re shaping the world my daughter lives in, and they’re shaping it into a world that’s even more obsessed with the way women look, raising standards to impossible heights. But what I’m most ashamed of is that I am letting them. In fact, I’m encouraging these impossibly beautiful and perfect women—whose husbands make insane salaries, which allow them to spend all their time and money perfecting their appearance—to make money off said appearance. And that’s all it really is, isn’t it? Just appearances.
Yet here I am, still frozen with embarrassment and shame, staring into the eyes of my daughter who gazes back at me wondering why I can’t just try a little harder to be pretty and thin, and choose fashionable, matching outfits we both can wear.
So I do what I know is best: use this as a teachable moment to educate my daughter, make her a stronger, more resilient person with a kind heart and an intellectual mind.
“Because,” I say, grabbing my iPad. “She’s a dumb bitch who’s got shit for brains and spends her only brain cells obsessing over the way she looks, and we’re too smart and too cool for that shit, little lady. Now, quit being brat and go be useful for once!”
There. That’ll teach her.
“What? Why are you staring at me?”
“I’m not staring at you.”
“You’re staring. Actually, I think the term is ‘looking sideways’ at me. Why?”
“No, you’re right. I am. I guess I’m just wondering why you’re smiling.”
“Why I’m smiling? Do I have to have a reason to smile?”
“Yeah, actually. I think you do.”
“I have to have a reason to smile, a reason to be happy?”
“Let me ask you this: is everything in your life going the way you’d hope it would?”
“Is everything in my life going the way I hoped it would? Well, I mean, not everything.”
“What’s not going to plan?”
“Well… I guess I’d hoped to have gotten into that Ivy League grad program.”
“But you didn’t?”
“I didn’t get in… But that was years ago. I’m over that now.”
“What about your current job? Is it really the job you’ve always dreamed about?”
“Of course not. My dream job was to be a heart surgeon. But, come on! That’s a tall order.”
“Not really. There are plenty of people who are heart surgeons. A lot, actually. They were able to get their dream jobs. Maybe they worked harder than you. Maybe they’re better than you. Maybe life has better to them.”
“Where are you going with this?”
“I’m saying, you’re not in your dream job, you never got into that Ivy League grad school you applied to, and are you even making the amount of money you were hoping to make by thirty?”
“Hopes are dreams are not reality. But I’m still making pretty good money.”
“So, you’re just going to stop reaching for the stars? You’re just going to be complacent?”
“I’m grateful for what I have, even if my whole ‘dream’ career didn’t work out.”
“But didn’t you also want to have a family by now, too? How’s that going?”
“What are you trying to say?”
“Hey, I’m just repeating back to you what you’re telling me. What about those abs you always figured you’d have?”
“Oh, no one cares about abs anymore!”
“You do. I know you do. I see it when you look at your body. So tell me, do you really have anything to smile about?”
“Are you trying to tell me that I shouldn’t be happy?”
“Why should you be happy if you haven’t gotten what you wanted out of life? If you’re not the person you’d always hoped to be?”
“But all of those things are superficial. They’re not what make me me. It’s just stuff on paper.”
“Yeah, and your paper is a blank page, buddy.”
“So I shouldn’t be happy? I shouldn’t smile?”
“Do you have any reason to be happy?”
“What about the reason that it’s a beautiful day? The sun is shining?”
“Yeah, it’s shining because of global warming, and life’s gonna get real shitty real soon. You really should wipe that smile off your face.”
“I should just punish myself? Be miserable because life isn’t perfect? Because my life isn’t what I hoped it’d be? Because life has disappointed me?”
“And you’ve disappointed yourself.”
“Okay, really? You’re going there?”
“So unless I have a reason to be happy, I shouldn’t smile? Be carefree? Enjoy my life?”
“Now you’re catching on!”
“And one reason isn’t enough? I can only be happy if 100% of my life is great?”
“Finally, you’re learning.”
“Feeling pretty miserable now, aren’t you?”
“You’re welcome. Have a nice day!”
He looks at his reflection in the mirror, watches his smile turn to a frown. Goddamn these internal monologues with his reflection. They always end in tears.
Mama. Wife. Singer. Actor. Teacher. Runner. Writer. Reader. Daughter. Interior Designer. Carpooler. Dog Lover. Dog Mom. Human. Friend of Jesus. Hater of Satan. Kale-eater. Wine-lover. Dancer. Sister. Ex-wife. Entrepreneur. One-night stand affair have-r. One-too-many-glasses-of-rose-and-I-blurt-my-husband’s-penis-size-r. Forgot-about-my-tampon-for-three-days-er. Actually-never-read-the-Bible-in-my-life-r. Yogi. BOSS BITCH!
That’s right. I do it all.
But how do you do it? You might be wondering.
And I’m here to share with you my secret: the truth is, I don’t!
I’ll be honest with you, you guys. I’m just stringing together a bunch of random-ass nouns and verbs to make it seem like I’m incredibly productive and more talented than you are. Basically, I’m just listing everything I can think of and making it sound like I’m an expert at it, but you know that’s not true (except for the tampon and affair). In actuality, one thing is probably true: I have ADHD and at the ripe age of 37, still haven’t figured out what the eff I’m doing with my life. But I desperately want to look important and better than you. That’s why I make it seem like I’m an expert at arranging pillows when IRL I’m just copying whatever I see on Joanna Gaines’ blog!
Truth is, I call myself a mom, but really, I spend most of my time screaming at my children to not touch their super cute headbands while I try to get the perfect photo of them sitting upon the forty pumpkins I’ve bought that will inevitably rot on my porch—committing horrendous food waste—while my kids’ wear not-seasonably appropriate outfits exposing their kidneys to freezing weather. They hate me, and let’s be honest, I hate them.
And when it comes to singing, well, I act like my voice is special but actually once I saw a fly die mid-air and flop to the ground when I tried to sing along to Ariana Grande.
Oh, and I’m a writer, too, although the only thing I write is captions, and most of those are already written for me via the FabFitFun content marketing specialist. But I tell people I’m a writer anyway, never mind the fact that I’ve also literally never read a book in my life (well, not since fourth grade, anyway).
Did I mention I also have a podcast? If you already thought I was narcissistic and boring as hell in real life, just wait until you have the pleasure of hearing my voice crackle through your speakers, recorded on my shitty microphone I stole from my ex-boyfriend. (He was a “musician.”) I don’t even edit it! You have the pleasure of listening to every painful silence and ear splitting “um” and “like.”
I know, I’m amazing. But guys, even I have my bad days. And I’m here to share with you the only way I get through it: Grove Collective Cleaning Supplies. Buy now and use the code “FULL OF SHIT” to get 20% off your next purchase! #ad
I can’t wait for you guys to see my next post, which will include me looking somberly at the camera while holding a political sign borrowing the trendiest political opinion. OMG, I forgot to add I’m a political activist too. In reality, I don’t even know who the governor of my own state is and I steal all my opinions from celebrities. Have a great day, frans! Kisses! Now, here are some pictures of my ass.