The Mommy Job

I’ve been sent this New York Times article by several readers over the last few days about a special cosmetic surgery formula which will cure mothers of looking like… mothers.

The article isn’t all bad – it shows some other opinions, too. But I want to touch on the issues that, well, need to be touched on. Or, rather, kicked violently to the curb.

Before I go on, I want to make it clear that I am not necessarily speaking out against the choice for medical or cosmetic reasons to have surgery like this. I know several of our submissions relate to the experience of having had cosmetic surgery and I cannot possibly judge a woman for the choices she makes for her own body. What bothers me to no end isn’t that some women choose that – it’s that we seem to be expected to choose it. We are expected to hate our bodies, to want to slice them clean of any signs we once nurtured life inside of us. It’s twisted, really.

I also want to say that I don’t expect anyone to be suddenly proud of themselves and in love with their mommy bodies just because The Shape of a Mother exists. That’s not reality, we still have a lot to struggle with – or at least I still do.

But we should be angry that people use our insecurities to further the cycle of women hating their bodies. We should be angry that society wants to “fix” what was never broken to begin with.

“Twenty years ago, a woman did not think she could do something about it and she covered up with discreet clothing,” Dr. Stoker said. “But now women don’t have to go on feeling self-conscious or resentful about their appearance.”

Dr. Stoker is exactly right. We don’t. We can hold each other up and cherish the artwork our children have created. We can remind each other that we are beautiful because we are mothers. We can create a sisterhood of mothers (and all women, really) who can do exactly what Dr. Stoker says, without surgery. We don‘t have to go on feeling self-conscious or resentful about our appearances.

I also like this part of the article…

In 1970, “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” the seminal guide to women’s health, described the cosmetic changes that can happen during and after pregnancy simply as phenomena. But now narrowing beauty norms are recasting the transformations of motherhood as stigma.

I like it because it’s in the present tense. “Are recasting.” That means we still have time to change it! And I believe we can. At least a little. Instead of stigma or even phenomena, let’s aim for words that encompass ideals like honor, strength and beauty.

The issue here is not whether one woman chooses to have cosmetic surgery. The issue is that they tell us we need them. And that is not okay. We have the power to think for ourselves. And to teach our daughters to do the same.

7 thoughts on “The Mommy Job

  • Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at 4:50 am

    I think you made some good comments here. Yes, it’s a shame that women are made to feel awful about the changes that childbirth brings about.

    I admit, some of the pictures here frighten me – but again, maybe we should be more frightened of the starved, overly-made up and siliconed starlets that populate fashion magazines and television shows nowadays. In the future, cultural anthrolpologists may compare these deformities to foot-binding and wonder how a society with so many inventions and advancements could think of these women as beautiful!

  • Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at 7:19 am
    Permalink agrees with The Shape of a Mother. This was posted on their website on October 5th:

    “Mommy Makeovers”

    That C-section was nothing. Now in the wild world of plastic surgery, get yourself a “Mommy Makeover”! No, that doesn’t mean highlights from Rita Hazan in an Oprah segment. Tummy tuck, boob lift/augmentation, lipo…to try to make you the woman you were before you were a mother. As ever, we maintain that plastic surgery is a personal choice, and if you want it, go for it. But we HIGHLY RESENT the marketing of motherhood as something gross that needs to be cut out of our lives. Our bodies – maybe they’re no longer our selves?”

    Found at:

  • Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at 8:42 am


    I think it’s normal and perfectly OK to be shocked or even scared at how greatly our bodies change. It’s a huge thing for us to come to terms with, especially since these images have been seen so rarely before.

    The ideal goal, I think, would be to make these images more common than the skinny celebrities. Will not happen for many years, if ever, but it sure would be neat. Imagine the next generation growing up not even questioning this issue – it being so normal to them?

    And rock on, Glamour!

  • Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    I was actually putting together a post about this myself. Do you mind if I link back to you in my post?

  • Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Thank would be great, Heather!

  • Tuesday, October 23, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    Katherine, there’s no need to explain yourself. We each make the best decision we can for our lives. Peace. :)

  • Tuesday, February 5, 2008 at 9:46 am

    I understand being frustrated by the idea that “mommy” bodies are undesirable. I’m not bothered by my mommy body. I have deflated breasts, stretch marks, and cellulite since the birth of my two children.

    I AM bothered by the hideous flap of wrinkly skin that hangs over my c-section scar. I’m 5’2″ and 120 lbs. I’m not overweight, and I’m decently toned. My scar is about two inches above my pubic hairline, and it’s tethered….the skin below it is very taut. The skin above it resembles something from a science fiction movie, and it droops over the scar.

    I don’t feel that this is a badge of motherhood. I feel like this is the work of a careless surgeon, and while I’m happy that my enormous, post-dates babies were born healthy, I’m still bothered by my tummy 16 years later. I don’t want to be 18 again….I just don’t want to feel disfigured anymore.

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