May 3, 2013

Thoughts From America’s MILF (Snort)

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 10.36.39 PM

So it's a weird thing, seeing yourself splashed all over Google.  Especially when the headlines accompanying your pictures are so condemning:  "MILF-Themed Ad Sparks Anger" appears next to a favorite picture of my boys and me.  "Please, think of the Children" snarks above a picture of Pax and me sharing a sweet moment.  Or my favorite:  "MILF Campaign Has Many a Panty in a Bunch".  At least that headline took some creative thought.  Wherever I looked, there we were: Huffington Post, Uk Daily Mail, ABC News, Yahoo, Jezebel and on and on and on.  It was…dizzying.  As the story broke, Mike and I watched it spread throughout the internet in amazement.  "Whoa, Babe" Mike said.  "You're like…America's MILF."

Then we cracked up at the ridiculousness of it all.

A few weeks ago, True & Co asked if I wanted to participate in their upcoming Mother's Day Campaign.  This campaign was aimed at moms and would encourage them to get a proper bra fitting.  The campaign would use the MILF acronym.  In this case, MILF stood for "Mom I'd Like to Fit".  True & Co had sent along mock-ups of how the campaign would look, asked if I'd submit a photo or two and do a short interview.  I thought it was great.  I know firsthand what a difference a well-fitting bra can make, and I found the twist on the MILF acronym funny. (Any longtime reader of Ain't No Mom Jeans will know that we never take ourselves too seriously.)  At no point did I ever imagine that this lighthearted campaign would come under fire.

So imagine my surprise on Wednesday morning when I found myself in the middle of a controversy.  It was surreal, to say the least.  Especially over something so obviously silly.  It's the MILF acronym, for crying out loud!  How can anyone take it seriously?  Its origins were from the movie AMERICAN PIE.  But as the scorn and condemnation spread, I started to wonder.  Did I miss something here?  Was this a bad choice? 

So I thought about it.  And here's the thing…or rather, here's MY thing:  I'm totally OK with the MILF acronym.  Both True & Co's new one, obviously, but also the original MILF acronym.  Yes, it is vulgar, but at the end of the day, it's just a crass way to say that someone is attractive.  Wait – not someone, but a mom.  It's a crass way of saying that a mom is attractive.  And so…who cares?  I don't get all bent out of shape if I hear someone described as a "hot babe", and frankly, I'm no stranger to the F-word myself, so MILF really doesn't faze me. 

But there was something about the backlash that I found very, very troubling.  Many of the negative comments focused on the fact that children were involved.  Some commenters called our MILF-stamped pictures "creepy" while The Ethical Admin stated outright: "I just find that including their kids in the picture is kind of icky."

Ummm…why?  

Any sane person realizes that the MILF acronym is not related to the child, OBVIOUSLY, so what exactly is "icky" about a mom being seen as a sexual object?  Are we not allowed?  Once we have children – BAM – we are relegated to being sexless frumps?  Is that it?  Or maybe Moms can have sex, but only for procreation-related purposes and then we had better NOT enjoy it, dammit.  STAY IN THE BACK OF THE CAVE, WOMAN!  THE BACK!

Adweek cleared up my confusion: "Even if you are sex positive and proud of your smoking-hot MILF status, you probably don't want to involve the kids."  Oh, I see.  Moms are allowed to be "sex-positive" – thank you for that, Adweek – but not when we're actually being moms.  Because there is nothing sexy about our lame, everyday mom-lives.  The only way to be sexy, in this culture, is to put on our f*ck-me shoes and short skirts and go tripping around a pole.  And no mother in her right mind would want her children exposed to that.  "Think of the children!" Adweek cries.  

It's sad that our sexual stereotypes are so narrow that people are uncomfortable with a women being sexy and being a mom at the same time.  Especially since sexiness is more than just physical attractiveness.  

I can't help but wonder…how would a DILF campaign go down?  If, for example, some pant retailer decided to do a "Dad I'd Love to Fit" campaign and asked everyone to submit photos of Dads in time for Father's Day…what then?  Would there be some huge backlash calling the campaign "naughty" or "shameful"?  Would people complain that it was "icky" to see attractive guys pictured with their kids?  

Yeah.  I'd hit that.

Dilf

Probs not.  As I recall, the Guy-Pushing-Stroller-To-Pickup-Chicks routine is pretty standard in movies and sitcoms. 

Regardless of what the media claims, I don't find True & Co's campaign to be shameful or disrespectful.  It's this idea that moms can't be – or shouldn't be – sexual beings that is the real crying shame. 

xo,

S

By May 3, 2013 97 No tags Permalink
97 Comments
  • Katie
    May 3, 2013

    This is ridiculous – it must have been a slow news week. I don’t understand what’s wrong with the kids being in the picture, either. And I make a point of NEVER EVER reading the comments on news stories, because 99% of them always enrage me.
    I’m with you. MILF power!

  • candicepatterson@yahoo.com
    May 3, 2013

    Right on!!! I agree with ya 100% .

  • Heidi
    May 3, 2013

    I completely agree! Thank you for continuing to give us moms who don’t want to sit quietly in the back of the cave in mom jeans a voice and great ideas for how to feel sexy AND be moms.

  • Vera
    May 3, 2013

    This is the best blog post I have ever read. Seriously. I am sitting here in my office alone at midnight saying “YES!” out loud. THANK YOU!

  • Ashley
    May 3, 2013

    I love your blog and your sense of humor. The ad campaign is great and you are too.

  • Vera
    May 3, 2013

    Also you should get a lifetime of free lingerie for defending that ad so beautifully.

  • heather
    May 3, 2013

    I love ya Shana, and I think that you should proudly participate in anything that you want to. I’m glad that you’re comfortable with the campaign and the subsequent conversation.
    I agree with you that women should be sexual beings in whatever way they want regardless of whether or not we have children. I agree that all aspects of our lives and personalities can be attractive and, yes, even sexy. I’m just not comfortable with the implied objectification that comes with the MILF label. I was sexy before kids and after kids but I don’t appreciate being judged on whether or not I’m Eff-able (the ILF factor, if you will). There is a difference between acknowledging that mothers are sexual beings and celebrating them as sex objects.
    Now, obviously, the True & Co. is not objectifying Moms. It’s trying to reclaim the MILF term. However, for me, it’s not that successful. It also doesn’t make me want to buy a bra from them.
    Your boys, however, are adorable.

  • hillary
    May 4, 2013

    I think it’s totally appropriate advertising for a bra company marketing to moms. Surprise, moms want to look good in their undergarments even when they are playing with their kids. Your photos aren’t creepy. Hell, it’s refreshing to see a lingerie ad where a woman is wearing clothes. Sometimes (all the time?) I feel invisible when I am with my kids, and I think the intent of this marketing campaign is that women can be objectively attractive/effable even when they are doing mom stuff. And that maybe moms even DESERVE to be considered attractive BECAUSE they are doing mom stuff. Now is reclaiming the MILF term the way to go about it? I don’t know, it leans a little juvenile. But personally I don’t find it off-putting and your participation in the ad makes me like you more, not less.

  • Lori
    May 4, 2013

    From over in Oz………*yawn to them*. Another reader already said it – must have been a slow news week. Since when you YOU, a private citizen, have to justify yourself to THEM, the great voice of the world, via the easy auspices of the Internet.
    Love you, love your pics, love your blog. The End. Rock on. xx

  • Kate
    May 4, 2013

    Amen!!!!!!

  • Kara
    May 4, 2013

    YES!!

  • Bridget
    May 4, 2013

    I just about snarfed my coffee at your “Yeah. I’d hit that.” caption. This blog never fails to make me smile- or, you know, dribble coffee attractively down my chin. Keep doing what your doing, and let the crazy people burn themselves out!

  • Tricia
    May 4, 2013

    Am I the only one who has no idea what MILF means? That said, I find it refreshing an undergarment ad campaign is showing moms as they really are, fully clothed, interacting with their adorable children and also implying they’d want to feel good about themselves AND good about themselves while playing with their kids, which as women we all know can greatly be impeded by an ill-fitting bra! I suppose if I knew what MILF meant (as from the movie you mentioned) I might see where the kid involved in the ad can be an issue, but we’re women and moms. Take the child out of the picture and the ‘mom’ aspect of the ad is lost!
    I for one am glad you have a sense of humor about this…and I also will join you in NOT being in the back of the cave!

  • prescott_patricia@hotmail.com
    May 4, 2013

    Women are sexual beings, that is a wonderful fact. We are not, however, objects. That is where I draw the line. It is “icky” when any person is objectified.

  • Naomi
    May 4, 2013

    I think this will result in a ton of business for True and Co. and a million more hits to your blog. Your rebuttal was so well written and I echo the sentiments of the ladies above. Truly a slow news week…

  • Casie
    May 4, 2013

    Go Shana!! People are too serious.

  • Lyn
    May 4, 2013

    Couldn’t agree more! People are crazy.

  • liz
    May 4, 2013

    Funny, I didn’t know there was a “thing” going on about this marketing campaign, but I’ll admit when I opened that email calling me a “milf”, I rolled my eyes. It annoyed me so much that I actually said something to my husband about it. Can we just let “milf” die?! Why would people want to demean themselves with such a gross acronym? i hated it before i was a mom, and i hate it now. it’s nice that people are trying to make it mean something else, but…yeah….it doesn’t. Says, this super hot mom who doesn’t need people to want to F her, to prove it.
    All that said…not worth such hoopla. Who cares?! It was a bad marketing campaign, in my opinion, but not really a big deal.

  • Megan
    May 4, 2013

    So nicely written! Get it girl.

  • Herb of Grace
    May 4, 2013

    APPLAUSE!!!!!!!!

  • Bwlevy
    May 4, 2013

    Preach it sister! I couldn’t agree with you more. What is wrong with our society?!

  • Mom
    May 4, 2013

    Love this post, Shana. And what I love even more are your readers, who obviously get you.

  • JennyM
    May 4, 2013

    Sing it sister, and laugh as it all dies down in a week. Should we be glad that there isn’t “real” news going on? Good on you.

  • Laura R
    May 4, 2013

    chiming in with the ladies who already spoke, because girl? this post is so RIGHT. thank you thank you for giving us encouragement to feel chic, sexy, and romantic as mamas. your blog makes me laugh and gives me ideas and inspiration every day; i’m so glad i found it after my son was born last year. stay strong Shana!
    (p.s. i second the free lingerie, haha)

  • Jess
    May 4, 2013

    Once again you say exactly what I was thinking. I had no idea this was going on (apparently I really do live in a cave!), but this is all crazy. This blog helps us as moms feel sexy everyday and if we feel good, isn’t that better for our kids?
    I’d tell all the naysayers to “shove it” and find something better to do with their time!

  • Maria
    May 4, 2013

    WORD UP, MAMA! WORD.UP.

  • Sonya
    May 4, 2013

    So with you!

  • Bethany
    May 4, 2013

    Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Thank you so much for writing about the conundrum we’ve all internalized at some point or another, “Can I be a mom AND sexy?” Congratulations on being America’s MILF (woohoo!), regardless of the narrow minded responses. I’m so thankful that you’re the representative for the mom masses! No one says “smart, sexy, ‘mom’ & intelligent” quite like you.

  • Nell
    May 4, 2013

    You go, Shana!

  • Mary
    May 4, 2013

    Honestly, what do people think that a lingerie company is for? Not (horrors) having sexy sex! Not once we defiled our vaginas by pushing a baby through there! *sarcasm*
    I understand some people are uncomfortable with profanity. My own mom can’t say that word without blushing. However, thanks for using your normal spunk to put your finger on what is really upsetting people here – that somehow our lives can’t be compartmentalized into asexual mom and Friday night stripper, that the whole package is sexy, and well f***able.
    Women will be less objectified once we’ve learned that they don’t have to be two-dimensional objects to be sexy, but living women with families, interests, and live.

  • Mhoranrd@gmail.com
    May 4, 2013

    Your blog always makes me laugh and nod my head in agreement. In the context now of the crazy backlash, the “MILF” acronym itself kinda becones irrelevant to the bigger issue which you so perfectly address here. Such a well written piece!!! Thank you!

  • Kristen M.
    May 4, 2013

    Ridiculous. Does anyone remember those “hot dad” magazine articles and segments in mags like Good Housekeeping and on shows like Regis and Kelly? Being a “hot dad”…wearing a baby sling and rocking some stubble…is totally celebrated. Being a hot mom, feeling beautiful and sexy…damn, that should be celebrated. Lord knows it can be a hard place to reach, mentally, when your day is filled with little people’s needs! Keep on keeping on…

  • L
    May 4, 2013

    Love your blog but never commented before- had to chime in now just to say that I could not agree more! Thank you!

  • Tysie
    May 4, 2013

    I MILF’ing love you!!!

  • Ellen
    May 4, 2013

    I’m pregnant with my first, and I have two things to say: 1) I have never felt more beautiful than I do while pregnant, and 2) after the baby gets here, I can only HOPE to be half as MILF-y as you. Rock on!

  • Susan
    May 4, 2013

    I read that annoying book about “Bringing up Bebe” and the one thing that I really noticed that is different between US and French perceptions is that there is no French equivalent of MILF, because French women’s sexuality is not negated by their mom status. In other words, there is no need to differentiate between the MILFs and the MI-would not-LF because mothers are still seen as sexy. Crazy, I know.
    I am 8 months pregnant. I feel sexy even though sometimes I am no physically as, ahem, available as I once was. I plan to step up my game, particularly in terms of presentation (but also participation) when baby is out and I’m recovered. I am not entering mom-hood as a way to mourn my past sexuality, but as a celebration of it.

  • Melissa
    May 4, 2013

    The controversy is a) pure ignorance as the whole point of the ad was missed, and b) well, a throwback to a different time. I think the last of the barriers that women have to overcome are the stereotypes associated with Motherhood – both that you are “selling out” if you choose motherhood as your job over a career-track, and that if you are a Mom you cease to exist outside of your role. Screw ‘em!! Your photos are just plain lovely and the double entendre of the ad is fantastic and witty and that is probably why the point of it is lost on the masses.
    I was just discussing this with a male friend earlier this week, why is the DILF not a thing?? Is that because we are supposed to “make love” and not “F”?? WHATEVER.
    Look at it this way – if you ignore the point of the ad, would anyone think twice about a picture of a hot woman in, say, a lab coat, with a similar caption? She is being “sexified” in a job-related setting. This is just your job – mothering!! Like I said, screw ‘em!

  • Kristina Harshany
    May 4, 2013

    Thanks for not taking this lying down! ;) Pardon the expression, i just couldn’t help myself. Lol
    But really, you couldn’t be more right and I commend you for speaking up. The commercials of the guy with the baby or the working dad affair movies, the ads, the jokes, it’s all such a double standard. You’re hot, you write a great blog and your kids are adorable and appear to be well adjusted independed little beings. Let the haters hate, we love you!

  • Meredith
    May 4, 2013

    AMEN sister! The campaign was cute and quirky and I love that you remind us, as well as your entire blog, that becoming a mom doesn’t mean committing to a life of mommy jeans and dirty sneakers. You are still a woman and dang who doesn’t want to feel sexy!? I think it made complete sense to have your children in the campaign and a catchy @** campaign at that. Makes people look twice.
    Glad you’re not letting it get to you. You rock. Keep doing what you do!

  • Genny
    May 4, 2013

    So sad that the media will take ANYTHING and spin it in a negative fashion. These thoughts never crossed my mind when I saw the campaign. I think it has been very tastefully done, and it is so sad what some people equate to sexy. Mothers are sexy and ummm yeah the children are kind of the only way you become a mother, so why wouldn’t they be involved in the pictures? I’m SO confused as to what the backlash is about.

  • Finicky Cat
    May 4, 2013

    Just chiming in to say…I agree. Although the original acronym wasn’t part of my vocabulary until your first post about the ad, I did think the new twist was mildly funny, and the French version of the concept (less crude than the so-American MILF) is one I try to live by. And I have six kids. Our society is SO weird about children…

  • Elsbeth
    May 4, 2013

    Preach it, woman!

  • Jennifer
    May 4, 2013

    I love this post. Thanks for being awesome.

  • Amanda
    May 4, 2013

    I clearly remember feeling that my sexuality was dead when I first got pregnant. Looks like I was merely feeling what society is projecting. Right on to you for helping confront the double standard, Shana! And I have to say, your blogging audience rocks too!
    Ps- you sold me on True and Co and got my first box last night. After a few miller lights and an intense try on session- they are all going back and my devotion stays with my Target bras.

  • Stephanie M.
    May 4, 2013

    Nrrrrgh. It always amazes me how old-school Puritan our society still often is. You are MILF’n awesome, S, and never forget it! LOVE your response and couldn’t agree more!

  • Kathleen
    May 4, 2013

    I love this post just as I always love your positive, helpful, fun blog. One of the many things I find bizarre about all this is that I think there is (or at least should be) a pretty close relationship between happy, sexy, fun moms and sex itself. I mean, where do the angry commenters think all these kids come from, anyway? I was slightly surprised, honestly, when I saw the original “MILF” ads, but thought it was super funny once I got the joke. In a way, it’s like claiming the term for our own. I’d like it if that term could be about how we see, treat and like ourselves instead of how others ogle, evaluate and judge us. Now that would be sexy!

  • Moira
    May 4, 2013

    Hear hear!! I totally missed the controversy this week (where have I been?!) but you’re response is perfect! Being a mom and being attractive are not mutually exclusive- they are individual pieces of every woman, just like careers, hobbies or talents are pieces that make us who we are. It’s the whole package that makes us sexy, not the lacy bra or the high heels!

  • who2
    May 4, 2013

    Sing it, sista’!! (I mean…motha’!)

  • Abby B
    May 4, 2013

    Quite honestly, I am rather nervous to post any comment..for fear of backlash..but this has just been mulling in my head too much to ignore. S, ya know I love you, your blog, everything! That’s not gonna change ;)I have to admit, I am a little surprised that the (very few) differing opinions were referred to as “angry” and “narrow-minded”. The couple comments I read were neither angry nor narrow-minded..they just spoke a different opinion and they did so in a very respectful manner. I feel those labels are unjust and uncalled for.
    That being said…can you tell I’m about to have a differing opinion? ;)
    First, I agree with you and everyone else that moms are women who are not “just moms”. We do not cease to want to feel and be attractive, we do not relish spit-up, or poopy diapers, or the forgotten memory of sleep. We want to still be recognized as women. Rightly so.
    I think the issue is the “MILF”.
    I see these beautiful, gorgeous, precious pictures of women and their lovely children-these women who are so talented and accomplished and so dedicated-these women who are funny and witty and oh-so stylish… and then next to it is stamped “MILF”.
    And suddenly, the woman-who she is, what she has accomplished, what she stands for- is removed and she becomes an object. A “MILF”..a “Mom I’d Like to F—”…and how very very sad I find that..because that is so not what any of you are.
    You are not just some Mom some leering guy wants to “F—”.
    There is no respect given. Not the respect Mothers (or women) should be given.
    So I don’t think the point is that Moms can’t be sexy..but we shouldn’t be reduced to just being a “MILF”.
    And yes, the point can be made that it’s just a joke..and lighten up..and it’s a play-on-words.
    But when people see that “MILF” stamp..everyone knows the first thing that will come to mind.
    If the ad campaign had the slogan “I’d like to F-U” with the claim “Oh but we mean ‘Fit you’”..would it still be defended?
    And yes, we need consistency. The same standard *should* be used across the board with men and women. But the lack thereof does not make it any more right. Why should we stoop to that level?
    Shouldn’t we hold our heads, and our dignity, higher and say “No, I will not be just a Mom you’d like to F—”. Regardless of what a company says its “really” trying to say?
    I am not criticizing your choice to do this ad campaign. You’ve given it alot of honest thought. I respect your reasons and your honesty. And you will always have a loyal reader in me :)
    I just wanted to give my (different..not angry) opinion.

  • Shana
    May 4, 2013

    Abby – Thank you!  I totally get where you are coming from, and there's nothing I like more than respectful disagreement – it makes us all think.  :)
    In response to the negative commenters being referred to as angry….those were the headlines I was quoting.  Additionally, if you had caught a few of the cah-razy comments on True & Co's Facebook page…yikes.  Calling us "vile and evil" etc etc.    Difference of opinion?  No problem.  Mean-spirited name calling?  That seems small-minded to me.
    But I get where you are coming from – the term MILF does objectify us.  And, as you mentioned so kindly, all of the moms featured are more – much more – than just the objects that the term MILF reduces us to.  However….any label – even a "good" one like FUNNY!  or SMART!  when applied to someone reduces them to just that label.  And as you pointed out, we are all complex creatures.  To me, MILF is just one label (out of millions) that could be applied to any of us….and not a single one of us could be summarized by a label alone.  Ads are intended to sell, and they make good use of labels to do it.  My expectation where ads are concerned is that as adults*, we know that we are MORE than just a label, and we can see the forest for the trees, where ads are concerned.  I don't expect anyone looking at the True&Co ad would come away thinking that I'm "only" a sex object (OMG I can barely write these words without laughing)…I think we know better than that.  
    *I mention the adult thing because I do think adults are not fooled by ads and labeling.  Kids, however, are a whole other story. 
    However, being, uh, ILF-able, is much more vulgar than being labeled as "FUNNY" or "SMART"…even though they really are all just labels.  Your point of changing the ad to "I'd Like to F-U" is a good one…(I actually snorted out loud).  Food for thought, certainly.  xoxo

  • Shana
    May 4, 2013

    LOL! Win some, lose some I guess. But Target does make some good ones…I wore one all through pregnancy. :)

  • Shana
    May 4, 2013

    Love this, Mary. Thank you!

  • Shana
    May 4, 2013

    Aren’t they amazing??? It blows me away. Completely.

  • Shana
    May 4, 2013

    Naomi, I think you nailed it on the head – True & Co’s Facebook page is full of people complaining that they are low on stock. True&Co keeps responding, “So sorry, we had a sudden rush of sales and are restocking as fast as we can!” LOL

  • Shana
    May 4, 2013

    Tricia, I loved this comment. There are few things that make my self-esteem take a nose-dive more than looking at the Victoria’s Secret ads. Fully clothed moms? Selling lingerie? I’ll take that any day, too.

  • Shana
    May 4, 2013

    This comment cracked me up – thanks, Bridget!

  • Monica Woo
    May 4, 2013

    Well said! I could not have stated that better myself.
    Our US culture is very narrow minded. The same reason a mom can’t be sexy, or sexy with kids around, is very similar and frustrating to moms feeling ashamed and looked down upon to nurse, or even nurse in public.
    Thank you for this post. USA needs more strong women like you.

  • Shana
    May 4, 2013

    Thanks, Hillary! I totally agree. Did you see my response to Tricia, above? Here it is: “There are few things that make my self-esteem take a nose-dive more than looking at the Victoria’s Secret ads. Fully clothed moms? Selling lingerie? I’ll take that any day, too.”
    RIGHT?

  • Shana
    May 4, 2013

    That’s now my new policy too. :) I wish I had that policy as of a few days ago, LOL

  • Katie
    May 4, 2013

    I’m just adding my voice to the many who have already identified how valuable the blog and this thread both are. I love and depend upon the blog for fashion tips and good copy, and I couldn’t be less surprised at the response of some in our society to the MILF ad. It is truly about what some other poster called our Puritan society. Women do not lose their sexuality when they become mothers, and their children are not bracketed out of their status as human beings with all their desires and instincts intact. (As an aside, those friends of mine with whom I grew up and who had parents who demonstrated their appropriate loving sexual attraction to each other through kissing and etc, grew up to be perfectly normal human beings. Those friends whose households embargoed anything like sexual exchange between parents (“Wow, I never saw my parents even kiss) have had some issues.)
    Here in Montana we’ve had major issues regarding breast feeding. Certain members of the community objected very strenuously several summers ago to women breast feeding in public. Some of the comments went like this “I don’t want to have to see that. Gross!” These are the same people who see sexualized breasts with some frequency, I am assuming. Or, at least, they would be unlikely to say “Bare breasts: Gross!”
    I am very tired of the strange compartmentalization of motherhood and female sexuality, and deeply grateful for your whole philosophy Shana which puts the two things back together in wholesome, playful, and informative ways.

  • Brett Wilkins
    May 4, 2013

    Glad you liked my headline :)

  • tamar
    May 4, 2013

    A thoughtful and nuanced perspective. I would expect nothing less, my friend!

  • Abby B
    May 4, 2013

    Shana,
    Thanks so much for taking the time to respond :) It meant alot to me.
    I do want to say that I had misunderstoond the reference of the “angry comments”..so *thank you* for clearing that up.
    I don’t agree with, or defend, the use of those words (“vile” etc)for this situation and I am sorry you have had to deal with that.
    I completely understand your point about labels..it is inevitable that in some way, shape, or form every body is, indeed, labeled.
    I guess it just comes down to which labels we want attached to ourselves (no judgement here..it is completely a personal preference/choice)
    Thank you too, for this food for thought :) I love it when a topic just niggles at me and I really do pause to think, and mull, and dig into it. Whatever “it” may be :)
    And I do love, and appreciate, that we can have differing points of view and still come together to discuss those in a respectful manner.
    It truly is so easy to have a knee-jerk reaction (trust me, I have been guilty of that..ummm…ask my hubster ;)
    And…snorting, in a good way? lol ;)
    Keep on doing what you’re doing!

  • Leslie
    May 4, 2013

    Wait. A sexy mama with a brain??!! This is why we are friends. Uh, I mean, I read your blog. xxoo

  • erica @ expatria, baby
    May 4, 2013

    This is an excellent, measured, and well thought out response to a totally ridiculous criticism. Well done!
    I don’t know if it’s overreacting on my part, but this kind of brings to mind the so called right wing war on women, the movement to restrict access to abortion and contraception, and general sex negativity that’s creeping into the culture. I mean, regardless of how tenuous, I’m sure that there’s a connection between this idea that mums can’t be sexy and the notion that women can’t have sex unless it’s with their husbands for procreative purposes.

  • Alicia
    May 4, 2013

    This is a perfect response to a very reactionary (and hopefully short lived) controversy. I’ve been following your blog since becoming a mom two years ago, and one of the things that drew me in, aside from the great style tips, was your intelligence and your appreciation for the multifaceted and individual nature of being a mom. Becoming a parent is a life-changing experience for sure. But, to me, it is the ultimate additive experience; it makes you a more complex person. Motherhood should not force women to take on a reductive, one-dimensional self-image.
    In addition to being a mom, I am a teacher. In my professional role, I’ve had the occasional, very sad experience of seeing young children sexualized in truly damaging ways. What is most unsettling to me about the reaction to your ad is that it illustrates how our culture seems unable to distinguish between normal human complexity and genuinely damaging behavior. Perhaps instead of denigrating intelligent, loving moms like you, we should be putting our energy into protecting children who are actually in danger or standing up for women who are truly marginalized. As a culture, we often seem to be picking the wrong battles.
    I do understand and appreciate Abby’s thoughtful and articulate point about the term MILF being the real issue, not the beautiful photos of you and your children. And I think ads can send powerful messages, some damaging and others empowering. However, I find that, in this case, the pun and the images of real moms take ownership of a term that might be objectifying in another context. There is a rich history of language being twisted and re-possessed in this way.
    Shana, thank you for your consistently honest, intelligent, humorous posts. Let’s hope the negative commentary is lining the bottom of the virtual birdcage in a few days!

  • Meg
    May 4, 2013

    I have nothing specific to add, but I had to comment to be another in the rock on category.

  • Tegan Aubrie | Twelve13
    May 4, 2013

    Three words: Keep it up.
    Such a great take. And a great ad. The DILF campaign? I’d be all over it. ;)

  • iheartheels
    May 4, 2013

    Amen, sister. As another mom part of this campaign, I can honestly say I was astounded at the negative response this campaign received. I mean, what?! We can put naked celebrities on magazine covers and in sexy ads, but don’t dare put a mom with the word MILF. Which isn’t being used in that context at ALL anyway, but as a way to draw attention. It’s also a way to change such a negative term into something good, which I am all for. Thanks for this post; it’s right on target.
    P.S. I also feel for you on seeing it everywhere; I freaked out, too!

  • Cortney
    May 4, 2013

    I think this is no big deal. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said the problem was the mom BEING SEXY WHILE WITH HER KIDS. And not trying to be sexy, mind you, just BEING. Good publicity, nevertheless!

  • heather
    May 5, 2013

    Very well written Abby. Thank you for articulating this so well.

  • liz
    May 5, 2013

    Right on, Abby. I remember cringing at “MILF” when I was a single childless 20yr old, for the same reasons I do now as a married mother of 3. Someone wanting to “F” you does not determine your worth, how sexy you look, or how sexy you feel. At least, it shouldn’t.
    Like you, this opinion of mine is different, not angry. I just want women to inspire, and empower, each other. I may not agree with the majority of opinions here, but I see the same intention in every one of these comments.

  • Penn
    May 5, 2013

    Stephen Fry has a lovely quotation on being offended:
    ‘It’s now very common to hear people say, “I’m rather offended by that”, as if that gives them certain rights. It’s no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. “I’m offended by that.” Well, so f—ing what?’
    You said it, Stephen.
    Do people have no sense of humour at all these days? Did people really get huffy and offended over this? There are FAR better things to be getting offended over, like the Monsanto Protection Act, or the fact that something you’re wearing right now probably came from sweatshop labour. Let me reiterate: YOU HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR DAY THAN WORRY ABOUT A JOKE THAT YOU DID NOT FIND FUNNY. I truly hope that True & Co. doesn’t crumble to the haters and withdraw the ads.
    Shana, I loved reading this post – funny and mischievous as always while making one hell of a point. Love this blog! Thank you so much for all your hard work. Keep it up, lovely mamas.

  • Frances
    May 5, 2013

    Honestly, it is JUST an ad, and if you take it at face value as an AD, it did its job successfully and garnered attention for the company, didn’t it? One of your awesome traits is that you don’t take yourself too seriously and others should take note and follow.

  • Katie
    May 5, 2013

    Penn, I totally agree. Our society has gotten to the point where people think that being offended gives you the right to completely stop something you don’t like. If you are offended by an ad, you don’t buy from that company. That is the wonder of retail. Personally I love that a normal mom is being seen as someone who is sexy. Because heaven forbid we not hate our lives for not being single, skinny, and shallow. Heaven forbid we take joy in our children and our sexuality (which led to children…) I bet if there were 2 lesbian mothers pictured with their children the world would back way off and celebrate lesbian mothers being used in mainstream ads. Pfft! Idiots.

  • Brooke Lusby
    May 5, 2013

    Preach it, sister! :-)

  • amfarr78@gmail.com
    May 5, 2013

    So ridiculous. Some people are just too uptight and too easily offended. We can be mothers we can be strong and smart and sexy. We can even be mothers and be edgy and cuss (maybe not in front of the kiddos ;) ) and have tattoos or ride motorcycles. I’m a mom who loves to be stylish and has probably been judged for it. I’m sure there are women like those I’ve just mentioned who are judged for being a mom AND anything not considered to be mom-ish. As long as we love our children and do the best we can for them, no one should judge us for also being ourselves. We should not be made to feel that we must live only for our children once we become mothers. We should not accept the idea that we must now be these sex-less, frumpy boring completely different people once we are mothers. It’s ridiculous. I don’t think there’s a type of person on the planet who is judged more than a mother these days. I say we all give a big symbolic finger to the judgers and embrace who we are- ALL of who we are.

  • EmilyKennedy
    May 5, 2013

    I would just like to add that some cultures have been documented as viewing women with children as extra attractive, precisely because demonstrating the ability of motherhood is very positively perceived. I want to say some native Italians in particular, and I really wish I had a proper citation to offer. But the basic premise is that sexuality is a social construction. Many many many people in the U.S. are invested in making women feel fearful about their sexuality. Any excuse can be used.

  • Belinda
    May 5, 2013

    I agree…

  • Meg
    May 5, 2013

    Sorry, I love this blog but I do not love the MILF slogan. Just kinda tacky in my book.

  • Rebecca
    May 5, 2013

    So ridiculous that this became such a big issue. I agree with you all the way baby!

  • Katie
    May 5, 2013

    Hey Shana, I commented under Penn up at the top, but wanted to let you know that I e-mailed True and Co and told them how much I loved their campaign. How I appreciated that they were not taking away the sexuality of moms, but showing that we are sexy, even when we are hanging out with our kids. I think that what has happened in our society is that sex outside of marriage is seen as okay, or even glorified as laying claim to your own sexuality and all that. But we are strangely silent about being sexual within the bounds of marriage, which is ridiculous because that is one of the things that keeps a marriage healthy as well as makes the babies. It’s an odd dichotomy. We are essentially telling our daughters that they should have as much protected sex as possibly before marriage because once you tie the knot life is all plain tan bras and white panties and sex on Saturday in the missionary position until you have kids. Then it is just for procreation. What the HELL are people thinking?
    Personally I find it more acceptable to show a woman, who is married with children, buying pretty bras to make herself feel pretty or to give her hubby a little thrill in the morning while getting dressed. Women with kids wear bras! I am so very tired of every second person using the “this offends me” button as if it gives them a real right. It just means you are offended. To quote my mama, “You can get glad in the same pants you got mad in.”
    You go America’s Milf! Wear your pretty bras with pride and thanks for sharing True and Co with a woman who never has time to bra shop.

  • Heather
    May 5, 2013

    I like everything you wrote. Sociological Images is the blog I go to for info on women’s issues (and other stuff.) in their post “Sexual Objectification” (Part 1) they deconstruct objectification in a way that shows your photos are the exact opposite of objectification. They are showing you as a _complete person_. I aspire to show my daughter how to have healthy sexuality. I think it is great that people out there are concerned about children and all, but we Americans tend to take it a bit too far IMHO.

  • Courtney
    May 6, 2013

    Well I missed the whole thing and only learned about it from your blog. I’ve been living overseas for the past 4 years. And one thing I’ve learned about America is that we are a *bit* prudish compared to Europeans. Women are definitely not supposed to stop being sexual beings just because they’ve had children over here! On the contrary ;p Seems like much ado about nothing from my perspective.

  • Maggie
    May 6, 2013

    What a thoughtful response to this tempest in a teapot, S. I found the campaign funny, but what I really can’t stop giggling over is “Yeah. I’d hit that.”
    In all seriousness, Alicia articulated the Mom conundrum so well and in a word: additive. Becoming a Mom is an additive experience. As a Mom of four I know that to be true, but I didn’t always. Getting pregnant and having a baby were two very different things for me. My first successful pregnancy was twins. Whether I was swamped by my experiences, too sleep deprived to see, or something else altogether, I spent far too much time having a very one dimensional experience of motherhood. And here’s the thing – that’s not ME. I am a mother. Some days I’m a pretty good one, even. I’m also a wife. A daughter. A friend. I have a job that I love and that I’m damn good at. I have interests and ideas and fears and beliefs and – thanks to ANMJ – the ability to present myself in a way that reflects all of that. Motherhood is a piece of who and what I am – an important one, yes, but not ME, period end of sentence. I am a woman, with all that entails.
    And when it comes to LF, another bravo! – this time to Katie for letting the secret out – sex and sexiness exist within the bounds of marriage!! I could be a MILF but, thankfully, my husband never stopped seeing me as the W(oman)ILF. And as for me? I was a W who LF before our kids were born and I still am. Thank you, S, for articulating our freedom to be all of those things whether in Converse or come f*ck me heels with your characteristic wit and charm. A glass of sav blanc raised to you, my friend.

  • Megan
    May 6, 2013

    I had no idea what MILF stood for originally, but now that I do, all I can say is, who gives a sh%t? Haters gonna hate – don’t take any of this on board, Shana. Women are not flat, one dimensional beings that switch identities when the kids go to bed. We are, or should be, our true selves, all the time.
    Keep on keepin’ on.

  • Emily
    May 6, 2013

    BEAutifully written Shana! So, so true, and well thought out, I’m so full of admiration for the way you are not buckling under the hoo-hah and quick criticism. You’re navigating it so gracefully, and thank you for adding this really terrific response to the ridiculous-that-it’s-there debate.

  • Tracy
    May 6, 2013

    Realized on Saturday morning as I was putting on my (beige, boring) bra that it had a hole in it. Probably would have worn it anyway, except that I had the thought “If we knew each other in person, Shana would be so disappointed in me!” Promptly took it off and threw it away, resolving to go back and re-read your bra post from a few months ago. Moments later I opened up my email and saw this post — good timing! I’m now going to give True & Co a whirl, because all this brew-ha-ha is crap and your response is beautiful. Keep on rockin’ it MILF!

  • Janna
    May 6, 2013

    I really find it unbelievable the furor that arose because of this. Stay strong – we’re on your side. Great job writing such an articulate and well thought out post. I hope it gives some of the reactionaries something to think about.

  • Kathryn
    May 6, 2013

    A hilarious and on-target campaign. Clearly, the moms that True & Co were trying to reach “get it” and the other people…Eff-em! Thanks for standing up for good, smart, confident AND sexy moms.

  • Emily McKeever
    May 7, 2013

    Thanks for being a voice for all of us Moms who, just because we bore a few kids, don’t want to be seen as ONLY that. Personally, if someone called me a MILF I’d feel majorly cool:) You rock!

  • Claudia
    May 8, 2013

    AMEN SISTAH!

  • cora
    May 9, 2013

    AMEN! Sing it Shauna! I couldn’t agree with you more. I thought the ad just funny and complimentary of us MILFs.

  • Monica
    May 11, 2013

    Seriously, don’t people know how we get kids in the first place?

  • cbw
    May 11, 2013

    Who knew that a fashion blog could provide so much damn substance? I have since the birth of my second child oftentimes found relief in this blog–if for no other reason than I know that someone else on the planet is trying just as desperately as I am to maintain some former part of their cool self (fashion and intellect included there) while learning how to be a loving, caring mom, or at least I should say, trying to. I have to admit I was surprised to see the MILF acronym a couple weeks back, despite the fact that I use it way too often myself, but I was also kind of delighted to think that maybe we moms aren’t relegated to a life of kid-dom, that we can have our own grown-up moments (and, dare I say, a little fun?) in the midst of it. Anyway, from afar, thanks for your voice, for your contemplation of things seemingly insignificant and those more significant. There will always be folks who disagree. Keep on keepin’ on.

  • Suzanne
    May 12, 2013

    Oh, the pearl clutching! The manufactured rage! Huffpo and Jezebel do it for page views. And Jezebel is pretty snarky to moms anyway. Rock on, lady!

  • Laura
    May 24, 2013

    Well said, Abby. And like you, I <3 ANMJ! :-)

Leave a Reply