Whether it's over breastfeeding, clothing choices, or post-baby bodies, mom shaming is one of the most cherished pasttimes of our country. See a mother breastfeeding her baby (gasp) without a blanket? She's deemed a thoughtless woman with no sense of decency. See a mom in your vicinity wearing an outfit you don't think a mother should wear? Better throw her the side-eye so she'll really understand just how wrong she is.
And mothers who dare to go out into the world with tattoos, piercings, and/or colorful hair? To so many, it just "doesn't look right," and is viewed as a marker of somehow being a less capable parent. Well, as a mom with all of those things, I'm here to deliver a message from my green-haired, inked up, septum ring-rocking compatriots: shut up forever.
The first time I was shamed for not looking "mom enough," I'd only been a mom for about six months. There was still a lot I was getting used to, and having random people give you their opinions just because they see you with a baby was one of them. I'd managed to drag myself out of the house and to a family gathering, where it only took about a half hour for a random uncle to offend me. After making the usual comments about how crazy it was that I had a child now, his gaze started to linger on my hair - bright, multi-colored braids.
"You're still into...," he trailed off and gestured vaguely at my hair, "that kinda stuff?"
When I looked at him blankly, he lumbered on, adding, "You're gonna be going to parent-teacher conferences now, you gotta look the part!"
You gotta love those jokes (that aren't really jokes) about what people really expect you to be, right? Not even. As any mom will tell you, the world holds very tightly to the idea that moms should "look the part." There are so many strict, often unspoken rules on everything from the amount of makeup we should wear to what clothes we leave the house in to how we do our hair, but none of that really matters in any real way; I'm the same person with the same values and skills, whether my hair is its natural color and pulled into a "respectable" bun or if I'm sporting an aquamarine afro.
We're told from day one to change and stifle our personalities in pursuit of embodying the image of a mother who has it all together. But here's where it gets even trickier — even if we were to somehow reach that unattainable state of perfection, focusing 100% of our energy on PTA meetings and wearing only understated outfits in neutral tones, we'd still get shamed for being boring and cliche. This system isn't designed for us to win, so what's a new mom to do?
The answer is simple: screw it. If what makes you happy isn't something that's universally appreciated, that's fine; if it's not hurting anyone (or affecting your paycheck, let's be real), keep doing you and ignore the side-eyes.
And to all of the salty people who have a problem with it — the next time you see a mother picking up her child from school who has purple hair or maybe even a sleeve of tattoos? Instead of being human garbage and negatively affecting her day for no reason whatsoever, try respecting her for holding on to who she is in a world hell-bent on trying to shame her out of it.