By Jessica Hernandez
Before I had kids, I used to love the show What Not to Wear. The premise was simple: some dumpy schlub got outed as a fashion reprobate by her friends. In return for the humiliation, she got $10,000 worth of fabulous new duds. A staple guest on the show was the Frumpy Mom. Though different sizes, races, and geographic locations, Frumpy Moms shared two cardinal beliefs: sweatpants were the answer to every wardrobe dilemma and white sneakers transcended time, space, and social venue.
“That poor soul,” I’d think, watching another episode. “She really let herself go. When I have kids, that is SO not going to be me.”
Fast forward a decade. I’m sitting here in stained leggings and a holey t-shirt, not because I’m fashion inept but because this is what motherhood has turned me into. I would love to look polished and put together, but there are at least a half dozen good reasons why I look like a sleep-deprived Neanderthal.
1. Nothing fits. This seems a bit obvious, but it has more to do with bone structure than baby weight. Before getting pregnant, I didn’t realize growing a person inside you causes massive tectonic shifts in your bones. Your ribs and hips spread to make space for your offspring and they don’t always move back. Even after the baby weight was gone, I’d gone up a couple pants sizes, so all my pre-baby clothes didn’t fit. It was too cold to go naked, so it was a choice between the sweats or the maternity clothes. My self-esteem couldn’t handle another nine months in the same three pairs of paneled jeans, so I went the yoga pants route. I lived in cotton/spandex blends and elastic waist bands. When I finally broke down and bought some real clothes, it turns out my body wasn’t done changing. My bones moved AGAIN and I was left with a new wardrobe that was lovely, but too big.
2. Breastfeeding makes my boobs look like grapefruits or deflated balloons, depending on the time of day. When I was breastfeeding, my boobs changed half a cup size every time I fed my baby. Once I weaned, I ended up with one breast that’s half a cup larger than the other. (She has since been dubbed “Big Mama.”) The only bra that accommodates that kind of nonsense is the most shapeless sports bra in the universe. Though comfy, it looks hideous under anything except a rumpled t-shirt or hoodie. Don’t even get me started on the clothing logistics required for taking your boobs out while holding a tiny, screaming human.
3. My clothes are always covered in baby gook. Motherhood has turned me into a napkin, a Kleenex, a drop cloth, a wet wipe, and a security blanket. Whether it’s my son learning to feed himself or my daughter wiping her nose on my leg, my kids love to make my clothes look like Jackson Pollock paintings. Given the kind of abuse my wardrobe takes, I should probably give up and wear Teflon. As it is, it’s hard to find flattering clothes that don’t need dry cleaning, hand washing, or ritual cleansing in the Ganges. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
4. My kids steal and ruin my stuff. The other day I decided to get gussied up before going out. When I finally found my makeup bag, I discovered my daughter had sucked on the makeup brushes, leaving them in spikey, spitty points. The eyelash curler suffered a worse fate. She’d taken it outside to use as an earthworm guillotine. Worm guts dangled from the handle. I forgot about the makeup. Even though I looked like an extra from The Walking Dead, it was better than getting some funky earthworm eye disease. My scarves, hairbrushes, and high heels have all suffered similar, though less gory, fates.
5. I’m broke. More than anything, it’s a simple question of finances. My kids are forever growing out of their clothes. Within two weeks of purchase, my kid’s baggy pair of footy pajamas are so tight I can’t zip them shut. My daughter is the same. If they’re not outgrowing their clothes, they’re losing them. Shoes, coats, mittens, and hats have all vanished into the ether. If I ever find a matching pair of socks, I’m getting them framed. Keeping my kids in clothes requires almost constant shopping. That leaves zero dollars left to buy that cute cardigan I wanted at Target.
6. I’d rather set fire to my eyebrows than go clothes shopping with my kids. They hide in the clothes racks, climb under the changing room doors, cry, and occasionally shoplift. And they do all of it when I’m half naked. If there’s a hell, it’s chasing a toddler through a crowded store wearing an unwrapped wrap dress and hoping the sales clerk doesn’t call the cops on you for streaking.
7. They cancelled What Not to Wear. Let’s be real: the only way I’m getting a new wardrobe is if some magical fashion fairy comes traipsing into my life. (*Cough* Stacy and Clinton *Cough*). In exchange, I would happily broadcast images of me at Wal-Mart wearing a bathrobe and snot-streaked leggings. Heck, I’d go public in moose antlers and a unitard if it meant I got free clothes out of it. So, if the show ever comes back, please, please report me. Any amount of humiliation is worth a week away from my kids.
About the Author
Jessica Hernandez is a writer, librarian, teacher & all-around word girl. When not being used as a human canvas for baby food art, she writes about parenting and mental illness. You can find her procrastinating on Twitter at @FinkHernandez.