Why I don’t care if I look like a mum

Do you look like a ‘mum’ (whatever that is!)? And does it really matter if you do? One reader explains why she doesn’t care.

One article that never fails to divide our readers, is How NOT to dress like a mum. While the core message behind the advice is that you should dress like you – whatever makes you feel comfortable and happy – the idea that dressing like a mum is a ‘thing’, or that it’s somehow negative, always gets women talking.

So we thought it only fair to invite a mum to comment from a different point of view, and explain why she doesn’t care if she looks like a mum or not.

Why I don’t care if I look like a mum

It’s nice in the wake of Mother’s Day to remember your family’s devotion and attention and recognition of you merely for doing everything you do every day as a mum. It’s wonderful. But the rest of the year, I tend to battle with defending my motherhood.

Let me elaborate on that. I don’t mean that I have to convince people that it’s a good thing and a noble cause, I mean that I have to convince people that I am a mother at all! When I say that I have three girls under the age of seven, people pause, look me up and down, and almost always respond with a variation of “you? Really? But you don’t look like a mum.”

What is a mum supposed to look like?

Either they mean this because I look so young – trust me, I look younger than I am, I know, what a nice problem to have – or because I look put together, meaning I look good.

Although I think most people mean this as a compliment, it bothers me for two reasons. The first is that I am a proud and happy working mum and love what I do, and am happy to be recognised as both a mum and career woman.

The second reason is that I don’t understand what a mum is supposed to look like if I don’t look like a mum. Which makes me think that society has some preconceived notion of what that looks like and not all of us mums out there fit the description. So here is a little rebuttal to the “you don’t look like a mum” cliché remark.

Mums can look refined, professional and sexy

Of course I have my days where I don’t wash my hair and spend the whole day in sweats. (FYI, I had those days before motherhood too.) There is nothing wrong with looking that way and having inevitable spills on your clothes. This does indeed happen in the life of a parent.

However, I also have a nice closet full of clean clothes, and grown up professional clothes that I wear to work. I can wear a pencil skirt and pumps or I can wear sweats and sneakers, but both of these looks are still me and I am very much still a mum in both scenarios.

So whether I’ve treated myself to a gorgeous vintage wristwatch or I have a teething ring around my wrist, both are just me – the working mother.

The problem behind a “mother” construct

I find it extremely sad if anyone thinks “I’m a mum, but I don’t want to look like one”. First, because it makes motherhood synonymous with disheveled, which isn’t true, and it likewise positions this disheveled look as undesirable, which again isn’t true.

There is nothing wrong with milk spills on your jeans, and there is likewise nothing wrong with looking like a total knockout despite being a mum.

Mothers are human beings, we are strong and confident women, and we look different every day and in every situation. We are both warm and professional, we are both comforting and sexy, we are women dedicated to being the best that we can be every single day, for both our families who need us and in our careers.

To sum up…

We mothers have thousands of different looks because we are all unique and individual; no one mother is alike. So to stereotype and say there is a defined “mum look” is absurd and rather alienating. I am a mother. Period. In my pumps and in my sneakers. Whether I look like it or not to the world around me, that is a whole other issue entirely.