Are You a Sexy Mom?

Editor’s note: At The Power of Moms, we want ALL moms to feel welcome. Accordingly, we want to emphasize that the following piece is an opinion piece; that we acknowledge physical appearances often mask complicated and/or personal decisions not readily evident; and that it is neither Allyson Reynolds’s nor The Power of Moms team’s intent to criticize or judge other mothers. We feel this is an important topic, and we’d love to get a broader range of perspectives on the role appearances play in the lives of mothers in the comments section. Thank you!

Moms have enough to worry about. Do we really need to put “be hot and sexy” on our list as well?

In the most brilliant (and entertaining) piece of journalism on the topic I have read in the recent past , Janice Min nailed it when she chastised Hollywood for putting the pressure on new moms to be smokin’ hot after having a baby. Apparently, thin and attractive are no longer enough. We’ve got to be like Beyoncé and Heidi Klum.

Janice’s article focuses primarily on post-partum weight loss, but I’m irked by what I see as an overall upping of the ante that spills over into every aspect of Mom’s physical appearance. A mother could easily spend her child’s college tuition on clothing, shoes, hand bags, make-up, hair products, and accessories for every occasion and season, and I only wish it stopped there. Simple mascara is no longer good enough, now we have to get eyelash extensions. Rather than purchasing a good piece of shape wear for a special occasion dress, we’re encouraged to get herbal body wraps to detoxify our cellulite and smooth out those nasty bumps. As for body hair? We’ve gone from shaving our legs and underarms to paying perfect strangers to wax our nether regions!

It’s just too much, and I, for one, am tired of it. I only have so much time and energy to try to conform to our culture’s crazy definition of beautiful, and then I’ve got to get back to the real work of being a mom.

Please don’t misunderstand me. My regular haircut and color is sacrosanct on the schedule. (In fact, I am quite ironically typing this up at the salon while I wait under foil for my hair color to take.) I exercise regularly and apply make-up and anti-wrinkle creams daily. I grab Groupons for nice, price-slashed jewelry when I can, and if I’m feeling really self-indulgent I’ll go clothes shopping somewhere other than Target in between grabbing paper towels and breakfast cereal. Making the most of what I’ve got and looking attractive is definitely important to me (and I will never argue against the truth that a mom who feels good about her physical appearance is going to be a happier mom for her children), but I totally resent the ramped up, in-your-face standards that permeate every square inch of the media. It leaves me feeling like no matter what I do it will never be good enough.

Distracted by the bedazzled nails, eyelash extensions, and hyper accessorized outfits of the other mothers around me, I sometimes have to ask: Just how many hours does a “hot” mom spend fixing herself up in a day/week/month? There are the hours spent dressing and accessorizing, the hours spent doing the hair and make-up, the hours spent shopping for all the stuff, the hours spent getting hair and nails done professionally, and the hours spent exercising at the gym. At what expense are we moms spending all this time on our physical appearance? And what else could we be doing with our time and energy as the mothers of the next generation?

When I see moms who seem only one or two steps away from becoming like the Capital people in The Hunger Games, I can’t help but remember my own mother, grandmother, and other female role models I admired during my growing up years. They were women who made me feel important. Women who made the world both a comfortable as well as comforting place. Their lives didn’t revolve around their looks, they revolved around their homes and their families. What they looked like in terms of the styles of the day or the standards of Hollywood wasn’t even on my radar, so I can’t imagine it was too terribly important to them. Yes, they took care of themselves on a daily basis, but “dressing up” was for Sundays or going to town. I can still see my grandmother–a woman who lived and worked on a farm in Iowa–putting on her pill box hat and gloves to go into town. And as far as I can remember, my mom only wore nice jewelry, perfume and high heels on Sunday–not to go to the park, and certainly not to go to the grocery store! No one ever expected these women to be sexy. Sexy? Janice explained the turning of the tide well when she said, “ . . . in the same way that gray hair went from natural to unacceptable in part because of Clairol’s relentless marketing in the 1960s, ubiquitous imaging of “sexy” moms has rewired society’s expectations.”

Where will all these crazy antics stop? Where do we draw the line? I once had a conversation with a mother who had just given birth to her sixth child. She was talking about the possibility of someday getting plastic surgery because she didn’t want to be “that” mother of the bride. Huh? What ever happened to growing old gracefully? To believing that the experience and wisdom of a lifetime was more noble and beautiful than having perky breasts?

What is the point of all my ranting and raving anyway? Partly just to vent, but mostly to rally other mothers like myself in a counter culture movement to reject the craziness by bringing things down a notch or two. I’d love to see more mothers pushing back against the insanity and asserting that the nitty gritties of motherhood really are more important than looking like a “sexy” celebrity mom. I’m not talking about letting the pendulum swing back to a place of homeliness and carelessness, but rather to find a happy medium between slovenly and sexy. Maybe that means more casual clothing, maybe it means less jewelry and make-up, or maybe it means–heaven forbid!–a merciful extra five pounds. It will mean different things to different people, because it is actually more of a mindset than anything. I have several friends who I would classify in the “Fancy Nancy” category and yet they resist this Hollywood mentality in every way.

The reality is, most moms I know don’t try to fit the celebrity mom mold, but the pressure still exists nonetheless. So to every “regular” mom out there feeling the pressure, I’d like to be one more voice encouraging you to resist the insanity and to know that it’s not just okay, but it’s normal to want to be, well, normal. And please, let’s keep it that way. I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in living in a world where the new normal is a size 0 with glitter toes and a face lift.

I may be old fashioned, but I think being a mom in the center of family life should be about the stuff that really matters. Being a sexy mom just isn’t that high on the list.

QUESTION: How important is it for you to be a sexy mom? How much time and energy do you spend keeping up your physical appearance? How do you strike a balance between looking and feeling good about your physical appearance and going overboard? What is overboard?

CHALLENGE: Find that balance, resist that pressure, and take it down a notch!

 Photo by lo83 at





  1. Tiffany Sowby says

    Oh I have so much to say in response to this. Instead, as I sit here in my sweats and hair in a ponytail, I will simply say:BRAVO, well said.

  2. says

    Oh Allyson, thank you! What an inspired post! I definitely agree that we as mothers are happier when we feel good about ourselves and our appearance, and I do spend a pretty penny on my hair (my most favorite feature!), but the body wraps, plastic surgery, “fakeness” of it all is just not a part of who I am as a woman or as a mother. I like a good pedicure now and then but it is not to boost my image as a sexy mom, it is to spend time with my sister and my friends. Buying make-up for me is to help enhance my natural beauty, not cover it up with shellac.

    • Allyson says

      We all have our own lines, don’t we? Yours sound similar to mine, but I’m always asking myself what the “normal” lines will be for my girls when they grow up if things continue to escalate. Not sure where it’s all headed, but one thing I know for sure is that women need to feel good about themselves from the inside out, not the other way around. (And Hollywood is bonafide CRAZY!)

  3. Alisha Gale says

    You know, I have some “sexy mom” friends, and one thing I’ve noticed is that these women genuinely enjoy following fashion trends and being stylish. It’s a hobby for them. I suppose it could become excessive and that there are more important things these women could be doing–but that’s true of just about any hobby. I don’t think my friends’ “sexy mom” existence puts any pressure on me. I don’t care that some of them have (unnaturally) perfect hair. They don’t seem to care that I don’t wear makeup and don’t own a single necklace. We’re friends anyway.
    I also think it’s worth noting that some mothers feel incredible pressure from their spouses to stay sexy. They don’t have the luxury of ignoring those last five pounds or caring less about their appearance. My heart really goes out to those women who have the double hardship of having to look perfect for their husbands, but not TOO perfect for their fellow mothers.
    I think it’s true that mothers shouldn’t feel undue pressure to be flawless. But I’d also hate for “sexy moms” vs. “normal moms” to turn into the next mommy war. (Which I don’t think you’re starting, Allyson! But I see how this issue COULD turn into a mommy war, and that makes me sad.)

  4. Allyson says

    Ack! Heaven forbid I become the author of the next Mommy War! Great points, Alisha. I even thought myself while writing this that what I consider “normal” is surely overboard to some other mother. (Coloring my hair, daily make-application . . .) But I don’t think it’s as much about what specific things moms do to make themselves look and feel attractive as it is the mindset that self-worth comes from our physical appearance or that being “sexy” should take priority over more important parts of motherhood. And you’re absolutely right–whether it’s fashion or photography or exercise, any hobby can be taken to the extreme and get us off track from our real vision of where we want to be individually and as families. Fashion (or rather, the hyper extreme world of celebrity mom fashion that is constantly pushed in our faces) just happens to be my little pet peeve! (As I go back to applying my nail polish . . .)

  5. Danielle Taylor Porter says

    I guess for me it comes down to competition. I feel like most of the hollywood glitz is all about one upping each other and the rest of us. If I feel like I have to get dressed up for a playdate or because so-and-so does, or because other mommy’s dropping kids off for AM Kindergarten are all fancied up, then there is a problem. I have felt that pressure in the past, but lately I have come to realize that there is a superficial level to it that I don’t want part of. That competition is not something I want to take part in.
    Where I am a girl who loves to get dressed up with the occasion calls for it, I also admit to loving my simple routine (read: if it takes longer than 7 minutes to be ready than it is too long). Besides, on the days that I do take more time to look good, I am not as fun- who wants to walk to the park in cute but painful shoes, and how annoying is it when baby wants to gnaw on brand new shirt? I do better when I make efforts to get ready simply, and then just live happily. :)

  6. Chantel Rhodes says

    Sexy is certainly an attitude rather than a look. Have you ever REALLY looked at a “sexy” photo in an advertisement? That kind of sexy does NOT look joyful. It looks more like intestinal discomfort to me. I think real people in real life can be simple, sexy and, well, REAL. Whether that means make-up daily or just clean and natural, it’s all about your inner confidence. The man in your life will definitely know the difference, and your kids should learn it, too. After all, if I were always worried about every pound up or down, every color I wear, and every hair in place, I’d probably walk around looking like that other kind of “sexy,” too. Dump the worry and let’s be REAL women, wives, and mothers. (This is also a great teaching tool for kids.)

  7. Priscilla McConnell says

    Such great points! It’s always going to be hard to fight our culture. Our culture screams instant gratification, sex, lust, youthfulness forever, perfection in every way, Barbie doll figure. Everyone knows this is unattainable for anyone, yet magazines, Hollywood and ‘high society’ try tooth and nail to get as close to this as possible. We sit in our homes watching the competitions of all these soul searching and often misguided celebrities and feel lead to compete with them. The influence is so strong. I would categorize myself as counter cultural, not easily influenced, etc. Still, even I am drawn to ‘try’ fake eyelashes and have secret visions of tummy tucks and liposuction. We are women! God made us to be beautiful. We just need to keep reminding ourselves the real definition of beauty. I find when I don’t watch TV, don’t expose myself so much to the temptation and don’t set myself up to feel inadequate, I’m more content. My husband is one that doesn’t notice if I dye my hair blue, let alone the length of my eyelashes (not sure if this is a good thing or not?) but if I’m being honest… it’s still hard. There is something desirable about being physically beautiful and this desire can get out of hand. We all need balance and to remind ourselves of the kind of women we ultimately want to be without going from one extreme to the next. Thank God He lays out what He sees as a beautiful woman in Proverbs 31. We need to read this over and over again when we start to get weary from our culture’s influence:

    25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
    26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
    27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
    28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
    29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
    30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

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