Thursday, September 6, 2007

Divas, yummy mummies and the whole ball of wax

With apologies to Three 6 Mafia, it's hard out here for a diva.

The other night Rob and I had a date night. We took the motorcycle downtown. I wore my newsboy cap and (if I do say so myself) some pretty rocking skinny jeans (with a long top to cover any evidence of muffin top, natch) and I felt good. As much as I HATE the expression, I felt a bit like a yummy mummy.

The next morning I checked out some internet pictures from New York Fashion Week and I came across this:


That’s Gwen Stefani – the alpha yummy mummy. She of the cool music, the amazing fashion line, the perfect pins and the ridiculously adorable toddler makes self-proclaimed divas like me hang their less-than-perfectly-coiffed heads in shame.

It is hard out here for a diva / mom who’s just trying to keep up. Trying not to succumb to mom jeans, a practical haircut and sensible foundation garments. Trying to balance sex appeal, style and vigor with early mornings, diaper changes and toddler tantrums.

I try. I believe in raging against the dying of the light. I believe in heels and red lipstick and matching handbags. I study fashion magazines and try to figure out which trends are within my budget and won’t look completely ridiculous on my 37-year-old, 135-pound body. In university I was even voted Best–Dressed on the Geology Field Trip damnit! (for real!)

But sometimes the striving seems endless, the standards increasingly unattainable. Take, for example this excerpt from the September issue of one of my favorite magazines, Harper’s Bazaar, entitled A Fashionable Life: Yummy Mummies:

"With "bump watches" filling pages of magazines and Katie Holmes, Heidi Klum, and Angelina Jolie going from hospital bed to red carpet in record time, the idea of motherhood has changed. No more frumpy, beleaguered moms — they've got to be whippet thin, glamorous, and desirable. "

Really? They’ve got to be? Is that an order? I admit to enjoying trying to bring the glamour, but who out there is telling women that they must use what little energy they have left at the end of the day to emulate the likes of Heidi Klum and Angelina Jolie? Doesn’t it all seem a little, well… repressive?

Sometimes I wonder if women today are actually worse off than the 1950s housewives Betty Friedan lamented in The Feminine Mystique: today we are expected to have perfectly waxed floors and perfectly waxed bikini lines. When does a woman get to stop worrying about being sexy and attractive? What happens if I stop enjoying dressing up? Am I allowed?

The simple solution would be to just give up and not worry about it, but that’s not me. I love fashion and I enjoy the trappings of femininity – I always have and I always will. So if I don’t want to hang up my diva moniker, I’ll have to put it into context.

I am not completely deluded and I am not a diva on a global scale. I’m a Don Mills Diva: a working wife and mother who has always taken pride in her appearance and who aspires to be, if not the most chic women in the world, at the least the most chic women she can be.

That in itself is a pretty tall order, never mind trying to meet the standards set by Gwen Stefani or mindless magazine editors who think every woman has the energy or the desire to emulate her.

I will never be a diva on the scale of those profiled in Harpers Bazaar. I’m no Gwen Stefani. Or Victoria Beckham. Let’s face it; women like that would eat a so-called diva like me for breakfast.

If they weren’t so worried about staying whippet thin.

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