How the Idealization of Motherhood Changed Throughout History

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As we saw previously, Kim Kardashian is an undeniable role model in our times, but what happens when sexiness and narcissism come between being a mother? There is a lot of praise and criticism coming from the public and both sides seem to have reasonable arguments. This photograph exudes self-confidence and sexiness. You see a woman on her own, making herself vulnerable to the public, who isn’t afraid of people’s opinions and doesn’t care whether she fits into the stereotypical model size 0. She is showing off her voluptuous body and curves, in a moment where she feels good about herself. 

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Many people say Kim and her sisters have changed the standards of beauty in the last 5 years, promoting curves, big breasts and big bottoms, but others believe she is promoting dangerous extremes and encouraging women to get cosmetic surgery and other dangerous treatments. Her look has inspired an abnormal amount of grooming with strong brows, dramatic smoky eyes, heavy contouring and over-lined nude lips. Kim has reached 122 million followers on Instagram and most of her audience are young women and teenagers who probably have a lot of insecurities and don’t have the maturity to know what they want yet. This makes it very hard for other mothers to like her or see her as a positive role-model for their kids. 23-year-old Eimear Greene from Dublin says: “I will openly admit that I spend 100 euros a month on beauty products, but I love looking like I made a real effort with my looks. […] If you say you want to look like a Kardashian or Jenner, people think you’re a bit thick. Whereas if you said you wanted to look like Kate Middleton, they wouldn’t judge you”. (M. McGrath) Eimear’s comment makes you reflect on how once, there was less focus on appearance and less pressure to look a certain way then there is today. 

Before social media you would buy a woman’s magazine once or twice a month and take your inspiration from that, without having a daily reminder of what is trending on your Instagram feed. Kim’s body is her money-maker and she definitely made that clear from the start. In her world there is no space for error and every selfie needs to be thought out very carefully before she can send it out into the world. Her team will spend at least 2 hours preparing her daily make-up, making beauty her priority. She constantly praises and promotes wealth, luxury brands and consumer culture, putting her self first, before being a mother. It is fair to say she has different priorities compared to other mothers and has created a standard of life and aesthetic that is impossible to achieve in the ‘real world’, unless you can afford all her secret beauty and life hacks.

Do women have value even if they don’t become mothers?

When you stumble across examples of celebrity mum’s in social media and in the press, all you hear now, is how becoming a mother has changed their life completely: how they were ‘nobody’ until they had their baby and how their new born child has changed them into a completely new and better person. Ironically, these celebrities have spent most of their carrier making a name for themselves and have become the strong multi-tasking business women other women look up to. Before becoming mothers, they were models, and to become a model for such a large audience they needed to check off a bucket list: perfect house, perfect family, perfect husband, perfect body, perfect social life, perfect job, perfect life. Without their fans or the media wanting to know all about their glossy lives, the audience wouldn’t have given them any attention and consequently, celebrity mums would have been ordinary soccer mums. Their search for happiness and wholeness arrived long before motherhood. You assume that all these values’ celebrity mums are striving for, are for their personal and public fulfilment. Of course, motherhood is an instinct woman has had since the beginning of time, but life with a baby should only be a prolongation of the happiness they already had.

On the other hand, non-mothers might say that becoming a mother is a restriction, a duty imposed by our society and by mass media. There is a lot of pressure for other women to follow that subliminal path of success and happiness: work hard to get the perfect job that will support you, find the perfect man, get married and then create a family together. Life doesn’t always go that way and women are scared of what will happen to them if they don’t fall into those requirements. There are so many shades of this reality, but people and the media tend to give more importance and attention to mothers because of the automatic value they acquire with their new position. This mystical elevation and superiority apply to any kind of mother, but more specifically to celebrity mum’s who have the upper hand as role models in society.

 Celebrity mothers will tell everyone how different they feel and how they have finally found the meaning to life, but these lines will trick women (and especially mothers) into thinking they can relate to them and can get one step closer to achieving their un-attainable life. Unfortunately, celebrity mothers will always be a step ahead of everyone because they will always be trendy, glamorous and have that something, that the ordinary woman/mother doesn’t have (yet). At the end of the day, they will always be playing cat-and-mouse. 

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