Mom Jeans


They’re not fooling anyone.

We know that Mom jeans is tabloid internet magazine speak for Fat jeans.

They ought to call them Life jeans, since we need them because our bodies have nurtured and released life.

Maybe what we need is a mass burning of the Mom jeans, in fervent tribute to our mothers and grandmothers.

Or we could track down the person who coined the term Mom jeans and ask him (or maybe her) to please create a pair that is magic. Create a pair of jeans that can contract and expand, provide what is needed from what is on hand, learn what is missing and fill in the gaps.  Make sure they will hold us when we’re hurt and tell us what we need to hear (even if we don’t want to hear it).  These jeans, these incomparable jeans, will remember where everything is and tell us when we have a dentist’s appointment. They will make us laugh for no reason, and they will cook our favorite thing for dinner just because. These jeans will name us, challenge us, listen to our fears and dreams, for as long as we both shall live.  And longer.

Dye them blue or pink or purple or polka-dotted green. Make some like army fatigues (standard issue and camouflage). Make a pair of leather ones, just in case. They should be as comfortable as sweatpants, or skin. Put a diamond or a smooth river rock or a hunk of turquoise or a button from a grandmother’s wedding dress in place of a snap, and make sure we can line it up with our navels, as a reminder of our own mothers.

If you can create this pair of jeans (at an affordable price), then go ahead and call them Mom jeans. Otherwise, please stop talking about the jeans we must wear to accommodate our bodies after we give birth. Because they are our jeans, our bodies, our births.  And we deserve to name them ourselves.

But this person, whoever he (or maybe she) is, is untraceable.  He/She has evaporated into the ether of the internet.

And each of us is left with this:  a pair of jeans (or two or four) that we have been told are ugly, loathsome in the eyes of the world. And a body that needs them.

6 thoughts on “Mom Jeans

  1. Kim says:

    So interesting. As you’ve said before, women are given a choice: either inhabit their sexuality absolutely (as a MILF or a cougar) or surrender that sexuality absolutely. Right now, I’m thinking about the stir that was caused when Barack Obama was spotted in “Mom jeans.” The joke was two-fold: Obama was simultaneously labeled as unstylish and unmasculine. We could probably make some pretty interesting remarks on what this says about the treatment of men in the media, but that’s material for another blog. What I find interesting here is Obama’s response when asked to comment on the fashion faux-pas. He said that anyone hoping to see the president sporting fashionable “tight jeans” was bound to be disappointed and implied that the comfortable (if unflattering) “Mom jeans” were a sign that he had better things to do. In the same breath, he referred the reporter to his wife, noting that he didn’t mind taking a back-seat to Michelle’s high fashion standards. I wonder what you make of this riff on the “Mom jeans” phenomenon?


    • Elizabeth Hall Magill says:

      Kim, thanks for giving me so much to think about and respond to. This brings up several thoughts for me: firstly, that yes, while women are given stark choices about their sexuality, I’m not sure that being a cougar or a MILF is inhabiting sexuality completely, as both of these labels are coming from without, rather than from within. I do think a cougar has a strong sexuality about her, but she is being defined by her predatory status–and when an older man is with a younger woman, again the woman gets the moniker: trophy wife. There are no pumas, FILFs, or trophy husbands among us, apparently. More on the names women get in further blogs…there is much to think about here.

      As for Obama and the Mom jeans, wow there’s a lot there. First, you’ve got the idea that moms are frumpy, which is the whole point behind the name mom jeans in the first place. Then, you’ve got this idea that the president needs to be fashionable and sexy–and you’re right, there is much to be said about men in the media here, both about how they are beginning to be objectified just as women are and how they are or are not buying into that objectification. I thought about this idea when Obama was shirtless on the beach and there was such a stir about it. And lastly, there’s the idea that fashion and such things are the purview of the first lady–which of course they are. And I wouldn’t want us to all give up on nice clothes–I’m fond of ’em myself. One of the areas I want to explore is where the lines are here, and I think the lines are constantly moving. Ah, and here’s a point as well–would a female president, should we ever be fortunate enough to have one. be able to pooh-pooh an accusation of frumpiness so easily? I’m thinking that in many cases, she would not…again, more on this in the future.


  2. momiocrity says:

    While I’m in no way disagreeing with your take on Mom jeans, I wanted to add something to it.

    They aren’t entirely, or necessarily, “fat” jeans. They are also representative of the stereotypical switch from “woman” to “mom” and thus, the mother no longer looks fashionable but rather slaps on the unfashionable Mom jeans, high-waisted, shapeless, unflattering jeans paired with an equally unflattering top.

    The idea that moms are no longer women is an interesting one. To me, a mom is simply a female parent, a woman parent if you will. What’s the difference? How are moms not also women and why does what you wear distinguish whether or not a woman is still a woman after becoming a mother? (all mothers are women but not all women are mothers)

    I used to watch that SNL commercial and laugh and laugh and laugh but had never given it any real in depth thought. This post, however, has got me thinking…and I like that. Thanks.


    • Elizabeth Hall Magill says:

      Thanks for your comments–you also got me thinking, which is great! I hadn’t thought of mom jeans in this way before, but you’re right–they do delineate “mom” from “woman.” I think the issue goes straight to the heart of how we handle female sexuality culturally–lots of focus on the pre-mom, young female body, then the female has sex, conceives a child, and becomes sexually unappealing unless she works very hard to look like a younger, pre-mom woman. So, while of course a mom is a woman, culturally she is not supposed to be attractive any longer, unless she can somehow disguise her “momness.” I will continue thinking about this take on things!


  3. tracey says:

    I hate the term because it means that mom = uncool and ugly. Really? How do you think I got to this point? I got knocked up, after all. I had to be hot enough to have sex with at least ONCE.

    It’s frustrating to be coined as a joke. Dads don’t have the same issues with clothing that women do.


  4. Elizabeth E. says:

    Mom jeans are a recent label. I mean recent as in the last decade or two.

    When I had trim, slim shape at age 20, all jeans fit at the waist. That was normal. There were the hip-hugger jeans but then your only option was to stand. No sitting or they’d fall off. Only crazy people wore those. The rest of us wore normal jeans: Levi 501s were a favorite.

    Jeans that fit at the waist are more comfortable, both in how they feel and how they look; that is to say, while slogging kids and diaper bags and strollers, people don’t have to watch someone pulling them up, tugging at them to stay in place or revealing too much backside.

    Generally, unless a woman is stick-thin, tall, the low-rise jeans are not a good look. But try finding jeans that fit at the natural waist. Good luck.


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