It was 1994. I was 10-years old eating my dinner in front of the television with my parents and little sister.
Fiery red hair illuminated the television screen. Peggy Bundy bopped around in cropped carpris and open-toed mules. Her signature style was a joke—tight and tacky (lots of spandex) and off-the-shoulder shirts cinched at the waist with a ginormous gaudy belt. When she wasn’t downing candy bars, a perma-cigarette hung firmly from her mouth. Her daily routine consisted of neglecting her children, shopping and watching daytime television shows.
She was America’s “bad mom” for 11 seasons on Married With Children. After the show went off the air, Peggy Bundy snagged the number 1 spot in TIME Magazine’s list of “10 TV Moms June Cleaver Would Hate.”
It was only after I became a mother myself that I fell in love with Peggy—the bad mom. Because I, too, was a “bad mom.” Peggy’s image was a parody of the 1950’s housewife and pre-antidote to the millennial mom. She wasn’t lazy when she refused to cook or do laundry. Peggy was protesting gender and marriage norms. Peggy rebuked the whole notion of doting housewife and gave no fucks or apologies for it. Peggy was smart and witty. She was a renegade. She was a feminist. She was a rebel.
Peggy was portrayed as a “bad mom” and “bad wife.” But really, Peggy simply refused to be the completely self-obliterating mom and wife that we romantically and unrealistically equate with being a “good mom” and a “good wife.”
Peggy loved her kids. She even loved her husband, Al. She loved her family in her own way—and not in the way society expected her to.
Now it’s only right that I dedicate an article to my favorite TV mom!
Here are 8 Reasons Peggy Bundy is my favorite mom EVER.
1. She had her own style.
Fashion and feminism and motherhood have always had a rocky three-way relationship. Many women feel we should not be defined by our frocks, and therefore feminism and fashion cannot exist. Many moms feel the need to change their style when they become mothers to clothes that are more comfortable. Which means fashion and motherhood can’t exist. But I think fashion and what we wear is a form of self-expression. You’re never “too old” to wear something. You should never NOT wear something because you’re a mom now.
Peggy got dressed every day for her DAMN SELF. Not for her husband’s male gaze (Al Bundy was hardly ever home). She didn’t dress for anyone out in public (she hardly went anywhere, except to the mall). She dressed for herself. For her own pleasure. And her style was entirely unique.
2. She was self-aware.
Peggy owned her shortcomings and laughed them off. Peggy wasn’t trying to be a wife and mom that she knew she wasn’t. Peggy was like, here I am. I don’t cook. I don’t clean. I don’t care. BYE.
3. She practiced self-love.
Peggy valued “me time.” Many moms since the 1950’s have felt societal pressures to be engaged with their children every single solitary second. Mothers who obliterate all of their own needs and wants for the sake and well-being of their families all of the damn time are labeled as “good moms.”
Moms don’t need to be slaves to their families to be good moms. They don’t have to abandon their personal desires and passions outside of child-rearing to be good moms and wives. There’s a lesson we can learn from Peggy pounding candy bars and smoking cigarettes while lounging on the couch every day. Mommy “me time” matters. I’m not saying moms need to embrace deadly and unhealthy habits every day. But a glass or two of wine, some chocolate, trash TV every once in a while, WHATEVER YOUR VICE OR GUILTY PLEASURE—ENJOY. Doing so can go a long way in preserving a mom’s sanity. Peggy was always HAPPY.
4. She had a healthy body image.
Peggy didn’t get tripped up by a number on a scale. Hell, I don’t remember her getting on a scale. She didn’t give into diets or health crazes. She burned calories by hop-bopping around the house in her kitten heels all day. No gym membership or calorie-counting required.
5. She didn’t live by the dollar.
Peggy didn’t care about being broke. She was mostly content in her family’s financial status. In one episode, Al and Peggy receive a tax statement that says they owe thousands of dollars. They both start laughing—“What are they gonna do—garnish my wages? Take our retirement fund? The kid’s college savings? Hahahahaha.”
6. She’s a good friend.
Marcy is Peggy’s next door neighbor who is a feminist and environmentalist. The women are portrayed as polar opposites in the show. But they always respected each other’s lifestyles. They never tore each other down. They exchanged tips and information to help each other and to laugh. The ultimate female friendship.
7. She Embraced Her Sexuality.
She felt sexy regardless. Al was visibly and vocally repulsed by Peggy. But it didn’t even phase her. She was a sex goddess in her own mind.
8. Peggy demanded equality in the household.
Domestic duties didn’t rule her world. A laundry basket with unfolded clothes in it was considered domestic decoration…not duty. She didn’t cook dinner. Ever. The whole Bundy family gave up on a hot meal. Peggy never felt pressure to engage in housework even though it was expected of her.
Peggy mocked 1950’s motherhood and housewifery with every flippant toss of her hair, drag of her cigarette and blatant disinterest in domestic duties.
I see myself, the mother I am, in Peggy.
I might suck at domestic duties, not because I physically suck at them (please bah-lieve I can clean a mean toilet), but I mostly refuse because I have other paid work I should be tending to. I also refuse to don an apron and rubber gloves because the ennui of domestic duties can be so painfully unfulfilling and undesirable to me. I might not fawn over my children and pour out my entire personal being for them every single day. I don’t ever want to be on the PTA. Or do travel teams. Or volunteer at bake sales. I might go out for girls’ nights and get so drunk that I hang out with my kids the next day, hungover as all hell. I let my kids have bowls of cereal for dinner. I don’t always hold their hands or catch their falls because I’m admittedly distracted on my iPhone or reading a good book while they play at the park. I can be flawed in all the ways society tells me I am flawed as a mother.
I don’t uphold some unrealistic standard view of motherhood. So if that makes me a “bad” mom, fine.
If not doing the laundry or cleaning up after everyone in my house bans me from the “good mom” club, I’m happy to not be in it. I teach my kids humility, respect, equality and tolerance and above all, self-love. So that makes me a good mom in all the ways that it ACTUALLY matters.
This post was originally published on Missguided Mama.
About the Author
Sarah Hosseini is a writer, mother, Profanity Princess and Expletive Expert. “Giving my kids enough material to write a book about me one day, until then, they’re my material.” Work is published in Sammiches & Psych Meds, Cosmopolitan, Redbook Magazine, Good Housekeeping, The Huffington Post, Bustle, Your Tango and many more. She blogs weekly at www.SarahHosseini.com. Sarah lives in Atlanta-ish with her husband and two daughters. Follow along on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.