Remember this photo?
I was really curious why Kim Kardashian got so much hate for her nude selfie, but I was busy with my own life, and sticking up for a Kardashian is a grey area anyway. One factor nagged at me though: people are not upset that she's nude; they're upset that she's a nude MOM.
Was I missing something? Being an exhibitionist isn't the same as locking your kid in a car on a hot day with the windows up, right? There are an abundance of examples of poor parenting out there, and I didn't know that showing off your curves was one of them.
So I thought nothing of posting a photo of myself on Facebook in a fitted dress. I was surprised when someone criticized me for posing like a sexy mermaid when I know good and well I'm a mom. For reference sake, here's the pic we're talking about:
How inappropriate that dress is OR isn't doesn't matter: the bigger question is why would my clothing in a Facebook photo meant for my friends and fans say anything about what kind of mom I am? It got my back up.
Now I'm no stripper, (except for the many times I've flashed my full kibbles and bits to my mother-in-law 'cause I like how it makes her roll her eyes while my husband cringes uncomfortably), but as a comedian who wants to feel confident and comfortable on stage, you'll usually see me up there in an eye-catching dress and five-inch heels.
We're not talking about bringing kids to the street corner where you turn tricks -- we're talking about putting a photo on the Internet.
I love flattering dresses more than my dog loves to roll in dead animals. My kids love to see me dressing up and even help me choose shoes and accessories for my shows. But according to Internet trolls and pearl-clutchers, showing cleavage and curves on social media is terrible IF you're a mom. We're not talking about bringing kids to the street corner where you turn tricks -- we're talking about putting a photo on the Internet.
Once I got a small taste of that backlash, I threw on a baggy turtleneck and called my friend Alyson Schafer, a leading parenting expert, and asked why some people are averse to moms flaunting their assets. Alyson's take is that in North America, some still feel a need to see mothers exclusively as pure and holy, and it's not a good thing.
"Celebrating your body does not mean you are objectifying yourself. That mentality encroaches on our ability to be free and sexual, which can interfere with our relationships," she says.
Long before the Internet, Freud had identified what is now known as the Madonna-whore complex, where certain men can only see women as either saints OR debased prostitutes, but never as a little of each. Cut to the present, where the mob of keyboard warriors who criticized the infamous nude selfie are men AND women piling on the shame.
As a mom, I genuinely did want to know if it would harm my children if I, say, put a pic of myself in a bikini on the Internet? Started dressing exclusively in Guess? Had a nude photo on the Internet? Alyson's expert opinion is no.
"I model my values to my daughters 24 hours a day: respect, love, intelligence, thoughtfulness. They're soaking up all of that," she says. "Does me taking a moment here and there to feel empowered by my body and my sexuality undo all that? No."
Worried about Kimmy, I pressed further, and Alyson added that fame will do more harm to the kids of celebrities than any naked photos. While I can't protect the future Kardashian generations from the spoils of excess, I can assert that dressing how I feel comfortable is a right in this country. I'm always mindful of my children and I'm pretty sure that the many mistakes I make as a parent will overshadow any questionable fashion choices I make.
In fact, I'm almost certain that skinny-dipping at a friend's cottage, wearing a bra that's a size too small or attending school functions in garish makeup because for the life of me I can't master contouring will all just be harmlessly added to the list of things I do that make my kids roll their eyes at me. And I've never worried that my need to break into song to narrate whatever I'm currently doing -- my amateur bird-calling hobby, and my loud public professions of love for my kids will undo all of my great mom moments.
So I'm choosing to manage my online profile according to my own values -- 'cause it's values, not appearance, that will be the bigger marker in our children's well-being. Feminist, out.
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