A few days ago, HuffPost Parent published an article by Anjali Joshi who made the decision to use her Louis Vuitton handbag as a diaper bag in
"an attempt to break out of the rigid mommy mold that society imposes on me and show the world that I am a woman like any other who exists not only for her children, but for herself too.”
This idea, that a handbag could possibly define us as women, has dogged me since reading it. This is my response to her and any other woman who thinks that her worth is solely a result of what she wears and the material possessions she has acquired.
So you own a Louis Vuitton bag. You saved and scraped from a meager teacher’s salary, and when you had your son you made the decision that you’d continue to carry it, and the reason for that, you say, is very simple.
“My bag is an attempt to break out of the rigid mommy mold that society imposes on me and show the world that I am a woman like any other who exists not only for her children, but for herself too.”
I agree with the sentiment above. Oh how I agree. It is tough on mommies to maintain some semblance of the woman before...the woman that’s still there under the Lifesavers, McDonald’s toys, juice boxes and used tissues that now occupy a once pristine handbag. But, I am concerned about the idea that said handbag (albeit a Louis Vuitton) be the sole thing that represents you as the woman “who exists not only for her children, but for herself too.” A handbag? A handbag is going to help preserve your role as a woman? Is that truly the symbol you want to use to represent you, the one you want to use to break you out of your mommy role? I’ll be blunt. I don’t like the message. Not one bit.
We’re treading on very thin ice here. Haven’t you heard the news? Women are second class citizens when it comes to work and pay and positions of power. Espousing that material possession help us to remember who we were before children just helps to feed that kind of cynicism. Women are so much more than fashion and makeup and shoes and high heels. We are so much more. My dear fellow mommy, preserving the woman you are OUTSIDE of mommydom can be achieved in so many ways other than hanging on to a meaningless piece of merchandise. What about the career you dreamed of? How about volunteer work, a cause, or some sort of political involvement? Dance in a production! Sing on stage! Get involved! Get involved! Your passions before your child are probably still the passions that you have running deep and full throughout your entire being. Find a way to make them a real part of your world. Find a way to be both the fantastic mama AND the woman with dreams, aspirations, wants and wishes. Endeavors, not material possession, are what will help remind us that we are more than just a mom. BEING the woman--allowing her to be or become through action will represent you (and other women) in a way that speaks to our potential, to our drive to our successes and achievements so much more than clutching a bag (a material possession) from days gone by.
And what about your son? What message does the idea that “my handbag makes me a woman” give to him? Don’t we want the future men of the world to learn that women are just as ambitious, just as capable, just as deserving of equal pay and equal consideration? Like it or not it is our job, the moms of the world, to teach them to respect, revere and see as equals the opposite sex, and I am sure...absolutely sure...that a handbag will not be the symbol of that revolution. We must choose well the decisions we make to preserve and uphold our rights to be women as well as mothers, and I hope for your son’s sake, and yours as well that it becomes clearer to you that you, your wishes and your dreams are far more worthy and eons more valuable than even a Louis Vuitton bag.
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