Most of the time, I’m thrilled to be parenting in the age of the social network. I can ooh and ahh over faraway friends’ baby pics, commiserate with my online mom pals when I’m having a bad day, and get great advice on everything from potty training to pacifiers from experienced moms I know and trust.
But then I saw this news story about how half of new moms are now primping in the delivery room, because they know their birth photos will be all over Facebook within hours. Another article offers “pointers for a glamorous delivery day:” get a blowout, bring lipgloss and mascara, and if necessary, flatiron your hair between contractions (I wish I were kidding about that one).
Of course, celebrities lead the way when it comes to post-partum perfection, putting even more pressure on the rest of us regular moms. Earlier this weekend, celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe debuted her days-old son Skylar, looking as meticulously made-up as a runway model (and just about as thin, too).
Now, I’m all for looking and feeling your best. Every expectant mom deserves unlimited mani/pedis, massages, and as much pampering as she can get, especially in her ninth month, when she feels about as attractive as a beluga whale.
But in the delivery room? Flatironing between contractions? Seriously?
Does living in the social networking era mean that new moms don’t even get a few hours off from the pressure to be glamorous, thin, and camera-ready? Don’t we get a day to revel in the joy of motherhood without worrying about the perfect blowout?
If there were ever a time to let go of the need to be viewed as an object of desire, it’s in the delivery room. (You are desirable--that's how you got knocked up in the first place, remember?) Moms who’ve just given birth are beautiful, period. It doesn’t matter if they’re sporting a designer hospital gown or false eyelashes or whatever else they packed in their delivery-day makeup bag.
And flatironing during labor--come on. Those things get up to 400 degrees. If they came with comprehensive warning labels, I'm pretty sure DO NOT USE WHILE ATTEMPTING TO PUSH OUT A BABY would be warning number one.
I know many people out there will disagree with me, and say that they deserve to feel pretty, that they want to look back on photos of themselves looking gorgeous on this monumental day in their lives.
OK, fine. But I still think it’s sad. If our culture recognized birthing women as the beautiful, powerful, awe-inspiring beings that we are, maybe we wouldn’t feel as much pressure to look like supermodels in the delivery room.
Maybe we’d realize that this special day should be about bringing a new life into the world, not broadcasting a primped, beautified vision of perfection to the world. Maybe we’d view flushed faces and tired eyes and sweaty hair as badges of honor. Because they are.
Maybe it’s not realistic. But, for the sake of new families everywhere, I honestly hope the pressure to be glamorous doesn’t overshadow the real beauty of giving birth.
Me on Mia's birthday. Makeup-free, decidedly untrendy, and happy beyond words.