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It is noon. Coffee break. I’m scrolling through Facebook. In the newsfeed: a friend liked this photo.
The picture shows a German TV hostess. She wears an outfit consisting of a jeans blouse and jeans trousers in the 70’s style, you know, a pair of flares, brown belt, sunglasses and a charming smile, standing against a wall.
The caption says something like “My favourite outfit these days, cool and comfortable, perfect for mommies.”.
So, first of all, I’m not entirely sure what this lady wanted to express with her saying “perfect for mommies”. Maybe she meant that it is a loose fitting outfit that conceals the traces of the exhausting procedure of giving birth, like stretch marks and the maybe not-yet-completely-trained-and-toned-belly. Maybe she meant that the outfit is so comfortable that it allows you to do all the things you want to do with your child, like playing, sitting down with them in the grass, crawling through the mountains of toys, whatever. Maybe she meant that it is easy to wash, so when your baby decides to puke over your shoulder or your toddler thinks it a good idea to build a mud cake on your lap, that jeans is a robust material that is easy to be cleaned afterwards. Maybe she was just proud, not only of having given birth to a beautiful child, but also for finding an outfit that made her feel comfortable and attractive, because, yes, even after having given birth you are still a woman and everybody likes to feel comfortable within themselves and maybe this outfit contributed to her feeling absolutely gorgeous.
But maybe may be.
Now, let’s roll up the sleeves and rub our palms for the really interesting part (which I guess already dawned upon you): the comments.
Despite the fact that there were comments stating that she even looks more beautiful after having given birth than beforehand, that her shape was now better than before, there were many critical comments, to put it in a nice way. There were comments stating exactly the opposite of the before mentioned, namely that she looked better before she had had her baby, that she was now too thin. That the trousers were an ugly no-go, which was actually one of the mild ones, because, well, okay 70’s style flares might not be to everybody’s taste and this is a free country and you can state your opinion about style.
The really striking ones were of a different nature. There was one comment that basically said in German “Im Röckchen siehst du besser aus”, which is likely to be translated as “You look better in a skirt”, but it’s not just “skirt” because “skirt” would be “Rock”, but the suffix “-chen” always intends to make something small and cute, so basically it says “You look better in a neat, small skirt” and at least to my mind a “small skirt” would mean a short skirt, because when using the term “Röckchen” nobody actually thinks about a long hippie like gypsy skirt that goes over your knees or covers your ankles..
Another one, which was really, well, I can’t even find an adjective went like this:
“You should rather buy a push-up bra”.
Phew, yes, let us digest that for a moment and take a deep breath.
So, sticking with the comments saying that she looked more beautiful now.. Well, I’m not talking from first hand experience, but I guess a pregnancy can do something to your appearance, for better or worse, and if you look absolutely happy and radiant because you are proud and happy, that’s fine. The bugging thing is that these comments drew on the fact that she now seems to be slimmer than beforehand. And I’d say that says a lot about nowadays’ society, where everybody is talking about the “after baby body” and women compete in “who gets back into shape within the least amount of time”. This puts pressure on them and frustration on those who didn’t land in the top 100 of this competition, leading to frustrated comments like “Yeah, well, good for you that you are back in shape, but not everybody is a celebrity who’s capital often consists in their appearance, and guess what, I don’t have a personal trainer…” etc., etc., etc.. Don’t get me wrong, I do not dub the last fictive comment as invalid, because, c’mon, that’s the argument that is always played across the table when it comes to topics like that, and it is just a fact that many celebs are working with a personal trainer and try to get back into shape asap.
But this is not the point right now.
No matter whether the comments are envious, frustrated or admiring, they all draw on the same craze. Please, could we keep one thing in mind: This woman just gave birth some months ago! So, actually, her body performed a frigging natural miracle.
And maybe, just maybe, she is not so slim now because she did a lot for it and because that was her intention, but maybe, just maybe the procedure of labour was exhausting, maybe there were complications and she was stressed out and worried about her baby’s health, maybe she wasn’t well during pregnancy, maybe her baby is not one of the sweet “he already sleeps through all night” ones but doesn’t allow her to sleep more than two hours each night. All this can also contribute to a different shape. Just saying.
By the way, the last argument also serves as an answer to the comments stating that she looked better beforehand and is now too slim.
Now, let’s turn to the “Röckchen” thing. And the push-up bra thing. Both comments from male writers by the way. Well…seriously?!
Okay Mister X, I understand, your personal opinion is that short neat skirts suit her better because..she has beautiful legs and can show them or because they support her proportions better, right? Just your personal opinion, right? And Mister Y, I guess, your personal taste just prefers big boobs, huh? Alright, free country, everybody can say what they want. And they do, especially when feeling safe in the vast anonymous sphere of the internet.
But what I mean is, is that what the image of a woman looks like? What it has to be? Is that what defines women as women: big boobs and short skirts?
Can we just take a second and remind ourselves that no matter whether this lady is a celeb and being watched by the public eye and using all those social network channels to share her experiences and events of the day with her fans and ‘putting herself out there’ or not, that she accomplished more than just looking good? (although that most probably is part of her career by the nature of itself) If she decided to wear her “perfect for mommies” jeans outfit during work (which she actually did) that doesn’t make her a less competent TV hostess, that does nothing to her skills or all the competences she earned during a career that started in the late 1990’s.
The ‘funny’ thing is this: Let’s just play a game, are you in?
Let’s imagine she would have uploaded a picture in a neat short skirt, push-up bra and either tight tank top or cool blouse with cleavage. Imagine that for a moment.
What would the comments be like? “Oh, you look radiant.”, “Beautiful”, “Wow, so sexy after having a baby”? Probably, yes.
But is it unlikely that the comments would also include “You are a mother now, you shouldn’t present yourself like that, where is your honour, do you think your child would like his mommy be running around like that?” and the like?
So, I really ask you: Can we ever make it right? No matter how you do it, you do it wrong.
And yes, we all know that we cannot please every single person on this earth, that is normal. But why is it that people always have to blame and shame each other?
One way or the other there always seems to be something to criticise, to rant about. But why?
And this is just an example taken from a photo on a social network platform, a small example. Let’s open the blind a little bit.
If you are a career oriented business woman you are judged for not wanting children. Here it comes: mostly by women, not by men! By your own ‘fellows’.
If you say that you definitely want to have children because you think they are a huge contribution to the fulfilment of your life, you’re judged for being old fashioned, not emancipated, etc.
But this is not exclusively reserved for women. Men are also confronted with those controversies.
When you decide to take over your family’s business although your original plan was to follow your passion and do something else, you’re judged for giving up your dream and conforming with the expectations of others instead of living your life according to your own wishes, even if stepping into the family tradition might have been your free choice and a deed you did with all your heart.
When you decide to follow your dream instead of taking over the family business, you’re judged for putting yourself first, being egoistic and letting down your family.
Oh, great! You see? Apparently there is no way of doing it right.
But why do people still so often try?
Why is the want to be everybody’s darling still so present?
As if the struggle of combining the wish to live up to your full potential and choosing the ‘right and reasonable path’ wasn’t enough.
Why do we blame and shame and judge so often?
Is it because we blame and shame and judge ourselves so hard that we need to project it onto someone else to let all this pressure and frustration out?
Is it because we are so hard on ourselves that we automatically are hard on others?
And if so, does that not mean that we need to work a little harder on being patient, loving, caring, forgiving and kind to ourselves?
What if the way we treat others was the way we treat ourselves? What if the way we treat ourselves was the way we treat others? What if this worked vice versa?
Maybe a wake-up call to rethink the way we’re behaving not only towards others, but also towards ourselves.
Be kind. Spread the love.