Mother Muse: Slipping Into Mom Jeans?

Read all of Mother Muse

I wanted to defend mom jeans. I wanted to stand up and say, "Enough. Enough with the looks, the jokes, the judgment." I wanted to write this column in praise of all moms who wear jeans. Those partial to low rise or bootcut, skinny or straight, western, flared, or mom. I wanted to turn the common thought of the day on its head and proclaim, "Hey! We're all in this together. Moms who toil outside the home, moms who sweat it out in-house. Moms who become moms at forty, moms who become moms at 20. Moms who slip into mom jeans, moms who don't. There is no room for silly friction and shallow judgment."

Should I mention that I do not own any mom jeans?

I recently observed this fabled fashion "no" threatened on a blog and I watched as the blogosphere went up in arms. The reactions to this apparent fashion faux pas were passionate. One reader responded, "Aahhhhhhhhhh!!!! Mom jeans!!!" Another, "You will never, I repeat never wear mom jeans. If so, I will be forced to organize a coup..." Another, "We need to form a support group so as not to succumb to 'mom jeans'.I am totally opposed!" There was no talk of unconditional love or acceptance.

A coup? A support group? This got me thinking about mom jeans and what they represent. What is it about mom jeans that make us laugh and cringe at the same time? How can a pair of pants inspire so many exclamation points?

When I think of the cultural phenomenon and the women who wear it, I see a well-defined stereotype. She drives a minivan, is quick with loving smiles, thinks constantly about her children, and leaves no room for herself. It conjures an image of a mother of about forty with a dated hairstyle. Because I am led to believe that women grow into mom jeans, she isn't toting a baby on her hip, rather spends her days chauffeuring older children.

Is this the character I would portray, should the inclination sneak up on me and I slip into a pair of dark navy mom jeans? Gallivanting around town in all my too tight, too high, tapered-leg denim glory, would I lose track of myself?

The truth is, the mom-jean wearer doesn't actually sound too dodgy or outrageous. After all, lots of people drive mini-vans. And what's wrong with smiling often and warmly? And really, isn't there something beautiful about becoming a person who is willing to sacrifice themselves for someone else?

I wanted to defend the moms who wear mom jeans and celebrate their personal style. I want to embrace all the moms among us for who they are on the inside, not for their fashion sense.

It bothers me when people are pigeonholed as one dimensional creatures, regardless of the accusation.

It's an old battle cry. And it's really what I wanted to say.

But then.

As I researched the origins of the term "mom jeans," I came across the old Saturday Night Live skit reflecting the joke and realized a few things. First of all, mom jeans are not flattering. As women.beautiful creatures that we are.we can do better. And more importantly, the tagline frightens me. "I'm not a woman anymore, I'm a mom."

This is why, however noble the cause might be, I cannot defend mom jeans. This is why I have asked friends and family alike to intervene as the waistline of my own jeans creeps inevitably higher through the years. A product of the stone-washed 80s and cargo-clad 90s, I do not need to add mom jeans to my already questionable repertoire. And as a woman who sometimes struggles to find her "other" self within her "mother" self, I do not welcome further confusion, no matter how ambiguous.

I was discussing all of this with my sons' trendy seventeen-year-old babysitter the other day. She told me in a hushed voice that she has a friend whose mother wears mom jeans. She pities this mom and longs to intervene with a shopping trip, says that this woman has a great figure and would look amazing in a pair of bootcuts. Then she wondered aloud about other age-related fashion faux pas. She questioned why moms thought it appropriate to tuck their jeans into their Uggs like she and her friends do. What about leggings? I asked her, having just purchased my first pair over the weekend. She determined that thirty-five was the cutoff for leggings.

This topic I shall save another day.