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“You’re So Hot … for a Mom!” Is Not a Compliment

My friend, Barb Palumbo, 40, mother of two, and smoking hot by any standard.
My friend, Barbara Palumbo of adornmentality.com: 40, mother of two. Hot for a mom and hot for a supermodel.

After I had my third child at 37, I promised myself I would get back into shape as quickly as possible. Do or die time. Not necessarily so I could fit into my old jeans — though that’s a huge part of it — but for my own sanity. When I had my first two kids, for that first year of each of their lives, I felt like I had fallen down a well, a stranger in my own body. I gained almost 60 pounds with each kid and hovered around 10 and 20 pounds over my pre-baby weight for most of my thirties without being inspired to do the hard work it would take to get back to my ideal weight of 125 because we always planned on a third baby. Once that baby entered the world I set about getting back to pre-baby shape, no messing around.

Within four months I reached my pre-baby weight of 125 and feel stronger and better, physically, than I ever have in my life. There are no shortcuts and no amount of breastfeeding that help you lose weight, by the way. It’s old-fashioned diet and exercise and that’s it. So I worked hard, lost all the baby weight — and then some — and began to receive compliments. Except I notice a funny thing about nearly every compliment get now: I am no longer just hot anymore, my motherhood is always included in any compliment on my physique.

Hot mama!

MILF.

Sexy momma!

So hot for a mom!

Yes. That last one. Hot FOR A MOM.

Blogger and mom extraordinaire Casey Mullins, of Moosh In Indy, agrees. “No one will comment on my appearance until they find out I have a 10-year-old. Then it’s suddenly ‘Oh, you look really good for having a 10-year-old.’ Hey, thanks! It just further proves the point that I am incredibly average, but having procreated young I gave the tactless people of the world something to comment on.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take compliments where I can get them. Some time around the age of 35 I realized while working out at the gym one day that I was no longer offended when I caught dudes checking me out. Suddenly I was, in fact, appreciative. If you’re still offended when you catch a man ogling your physique I’ll wager you’re under 35, is what I’m saying. Proud feminist here but I’m still happy to provide a little eye candy and receive some affirmation that all the working out is paying off, you know?

But yes, I’ve noticed that my appearance will constantly be channeled through the fact of my motherhood. Can a mom not just be considered hot without the mom qualifier? Does the fact that we are mothers preclude us from being sexy in conjunction with those who have not born children or are we our own special category now? And not in a good way. The whole “for a mom” qualifier supposes that the vast motherhood population is a bunch of disheveled sad sacks, doesn’t it? Did we ruin it for ourselves by perpetuating the yoga pants/bun/no make-up harried mom stereotype? Constantly complaining about how we barely have time to shower or put on make-up? Is it just the cold hard fact that most women gain weight when pregnant and don’t lose all of it afterwards? Is “hot for a mom” just accurate phraseology? Why do we view moms through a different lens when it comes to beauty? Is it because we expect moms to be unkempt or overweight?

Did anyone ever compliment a dad for being hot for a dad? And don’t tell me it’s because dads don’t carry the baby. I don’t have an ounce of baby fat left on my body and yet I’m constantly being told I look great “for a mom.” Is it a compliment? That I look hot even though I have given birth to three children? Am I taking it wrong? Bobbie Lawhorn Kirk says no way. She thinks being told you look hot for a mom or for your age is “like saying to a guy ‘you look good for having a tiny penis.'”

David Staab told me via Facebook that, “It’s not always backhanded. Knowing that someone is a Mom means that she has made commitments, sacrifices, and has put others needs before hers. She has fought battles great and small — a warrior for sleep & sanity! There’s an attraction to strength, beauty, (and sure) sexuality — wrapped up in one person.” While I agree with the principle that there is something inherently sexy about moms, I don’t think that is what is happening when most of us get told we look great for a mom or for having a 10-year-old. I think people genuinely have an expectation that moms are supposed to look a certain way; mom jeans and a fat ass, maybe? The backhanded compliment is a genuine expression of their surprise that a “hot” person has children. The always astute Josh Fugal most likely nails it with his comment on my Facebook page, “Guys are dumb and say too much. They over-think “you look amazing” by adding “for being 40,” thinking it’s extra credit. It’s not.” 

How about we all just stop adding qualifiers to compliments and just leave it at what it is: YOU. LOOK HOT. The end.

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