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The Only Career Women Who Actually Get Ahead After Becoming Moms? Supermodels

By Meredith Carroll |

Gisele Bundchen

Gisele Bündchen: über-model, über-mom

I didn’t consciously become a writer thinking that it would ultimately be a profession that would work well with motherhood (particularly since working at home with kids is definitely not all that it’s cracked up to be). Sure, I suppose it’s a nice little bonus (or curse) that I can write from home and be with my kids, but I wouldn’t necessarily boast that my career has advanced as a result of making babies.

There seem to be few professions that pay off for women who become moms. In most cases, it seems as if women who become moms actually advance slower (if at all) and ultimately make less money than non-moms, often due to the need to work fewer hours, among other reasons.

Well, now there’s an exception to that rule (according to Fox News): The supermodel.

Forbes came out with a list of the Top Earning Models, and of the 10 listed, seven are moms (Gisele Bündchen, Heidi Klum, Kate Moss, Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Carolyn Murphy and Natalia Vodianova).

So much for stretch marks and baby weight.

“Post-baby, not only [is a supermodel] gorgeous, but she’s a supermom who can do it all. A baby can also lend a model an air of seriousness and creditability,” Jamie Beckman, an editor for women’s site told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “In our celebrity driven culture, we’re fascinated by the mechanics of what it is like to be these women in real life, and that includes how they raise their children.”

How is it that modeling seems to be the only profession in which women are taken more seriously after becoming moms? Doesn’t it seem like other professions take moms less seriously? Like, aren’t women lawyers famously less likely to get on a partner track if they have families?

“Motherhood makes these women, who many people know only from glossy ads or magazines, more accessible and real for the rest of the world. A baby is something everyone can relate to, and being relatable to the audience is a huge plus from marketing standpoints,” former model and writer Adriane Sommer explained. “Also, you can’t underestimate the sympathy a pregnant star gets from female fans. Being pregnant is nearly as good for the image as wearing a halo for a celebrity. It is something sacred and it connects us all on the most intimate and universal levels.”

Sympathy? Really? In most work places working moms seem more likely to evoke resentment from childless co-workers who can’t benefit from maternity leave or stay home with a sick child (because that’s such a treat).

As if being so fortunate already to make zillions just for being genetically blessed wasn’t enough, now supermodels are more successful for becoming moms. What does their industry get that most others are missing?

Every other profession — are you listening?

Does reading about supermodel moms make you happy, or does it put forth even more unrealistic expectations for moms in general, and working moms in particular?

Image: Wikipedia

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About Meredith Carroll


Meredith Carroll

Meredith C. Carroll is an award-winning columnist and writer based in Aspen, Colorado. She can be found regularly on the Op-Ed page of The Denver Post. From 2005-2012 her other column, "Meredith Pro Tem" ran in several newspapers, as well as occasionally on The Huffington Post since 2009. Read more about her (or don’t, whatever) at her website. Read bio and latest posts → Read Meredith's latest posts →

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12 thoughts on “The Only Career Women Who Actually Get Ahead After Becoming Moms? Supermodels

  1. goddess says:

    “In most cases, it seems as if women who become moms actually advance slower (if at all) and ultimately make less money than non-moms, often due to the need to work fewer hours, among other reasons.”
    Um, yeah. This part.
    Less hours = less pay.
    Less flexibility to work overtime = less pay.
    More frequent and/or unplanned absences = less pay.

  2. Meredith Carroll says:

    I’m talking about salaried careers, not hourly wage jobs.

  3. CW says:

    Even at a salaried job, moms tend to have less ability to put in the long hours and/or travel that men and childless women routinely do. So they are seen as less dedicated to their careers and that translates into smaller raises and a reduced chance of being promoted.

    Virtually all the moms I know who are very successful in their careers have either a stay-at-home husband or have their own mothers living with them taking care of the kids. They can put in the time at the office because they’ve got a trusted family member to take on the traditional maternal duties.

  4. Meredith Carroll says:

    @CW — Right, so imagine a career where women get ahead BECAUSE they’re moms!

  5. goddess says:

    Why should they earn the same salary for less work or flexibility Meredith? If they take off more time? Can’t ahve it all.

  6. Meredith Carroll says:

    @Goddess — I’ve often found that working moms are perceived to spend less time at the office, but it’s not the case (in comparison to co-workers). And yes, certain attitudes have assured that working moms cannot have it all.

  7. Suzie says:

    I don’t give a though to the rarefied world of celebrities and supermodels, so I can’t comment on that side. I would say that an awful lot of people seem to waste an awful lot of time in office work (I say this from observations at previous jobs) and then they stay longer because they were kvetching over coffee or at the watercooler, or dicking around on the internet all day, when, if someone was to actually do focused work for the or 8 hours they need to be there, they could leave on time, have done more work, but somehow LOOK like they’ve done less. Mother or other….the thing is mothers most likely want to get out of there so they can either spend time with their kids or tackle “the second shift” at home because they have to.

  8. goddess says:

    Meredith- it’s not a slam, but a fact- you cannot be equally devoted to work and to the kids. If there is a conflict betwixt the two, one needs be must make one a priority. And kids deserve one parent who puts their every little need very first. If an employer has a record of seeing certain groups taking off time without the proper week (or whatever time frame is expected) notice, and the excuse is always “the kids”, what else would you have them think or do? Pay them the SAME as the group who rarely takes unplanned days/time off? Almost always is available for overtime? Makes work their number one priority?
    If you think women can have it all you’re probably going to take years from your life fighting to make that a truth instead of accepting that you cannot give 100% to both and be in 2 places at one time.

  9. Suzie says:

    “If you think women can have it all you’re probably going to take years from your life fighting to make that a truth instead of accepting that you cannot give 100% to both and be in 2 places at one time.”

    Love this. Just let it go. You’re not going to be CEO and a great mom to little children. You’re just not. And it’s totally OK.

  10. Jackie says:

    I agree with the whole “you can’t have it all” philosophy. Unfortunately. I wish our moms were all correct when they told us we could have everything. However, I was a much better employee before I had a kid. Before having my baby, I would easily work 10-12 hour days as an exec. Now, I am out the door after 8 hours every single day. It is now devastating for me to have to work late or on weekends. Honestly, my family status is a bit of a burden for my employer. Alot of my friends who had high trajectory careers, are now opting for part-time jobs just so they can make family more of a priority. I don’t think women are discriminated for promotions as much as they aren’t up for the demands of a senior position when they have very young children.

  11. Manjari says:

    I have to agree with everyone else here. You can’t do it all, and still do it all well. It’s better to make some choices and find some balance.

  12. cliff says:

    Women, overall, in the US, make less than men, overall, because they work less. There are two solutions to “equalize” the pay disparity between men and women:
    1-Women work the same number of hours per week as men, they work the same number of weeks per year as men, they work the same number of years per career as men, and they accept the same promotions/transfers/assignments/change of jobs/change of professions, etc. as men.
    2-Men cut back on their hours per week, their weeks per year, their years per career, and they stop accepting the same job changes/career changes/assignments, etc.
    I think we would all be better off if men worked less and spent more time with their families/friends….but that is not real life.

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