Roiphe says my generation of mothers “leaches itself of sexuality”. Truth is, some of motherhood is sexless. In the earliest days of mothering I was at peace with that. My body awed me in new ways and I did not need sex to feel excitement or sensuality. But eventually I began to feel lost. So, I did things that made me feel tended to and that weren’t terribly feminist. I bought products for my skin and hair, television grade make-up, tight skirts that forced me to hold my stomach in, and I stuffed myself back into bras with under-wire. It worked. I have several decades experience weaving self-worth out of artificial constructs of beauty. Performing these rituals made me feel like an adult woman again, as though motherhood, with all its stoic sincerity, had detached me from seriousness and grooming was somehow more sophisticated. And with my beauty regime restored it wasn’t ‘free’ I felt, and it wasn’t necessarily more ‘me’ either, but I did feel more present, and that was enough.
So, I’m a Roiphe success story. My children aren’t in my Facebook profile photo. My photo hints at the two more acceptable preoccupations in a woman’s life today – paid work and polite sex. It’s a flattering photo; I have a new haircut, and I’m wearing make-up and smart clothes. But Facebook photos awaken a pit of anxiety in me. I do my own disappearing.
My new article on motherhood and identity
March 24, 2013 by blue milk