The first time I saw this, I wanted to like it. I wanted to feel empowered and motivated. If she’s saying, Hey! Just because I birthed these monkeys doesn’t mean I can’t still look stupidly hot! I’m kind of into it. Moms are often typecast as out-of-shape, frumpy and exhausted. It’s doesn’t suck to have a representative of our kind doing a little bit of positive PR work on the Mommy Image.
I, also, am all for women (people, really) being proud of their own hard work. You don’t get muscle definition like that simply from genetics. She’s put some hours and pain into sculpting that physique. Good for her!
But of course, the three words at the top leave a gnarly taste in my mouth.
The implication here is that Maria Has It All. She’s also inferring you could Have It All if you only work harder. Oh you have kids? Look, I have kids and my body is banging. You should try harder, is what she wants you to know.
Let’s take just a moment to discuss this idea of Having It All. Having It All is the female-invented idea that we can somehow do-all and be-all if we just work hard enough. Having It All masquerades as a feminist concept (Womyn power! We can do anything we want to!) but is actually just another self-defeating mythological impediment to happiness and sanity we’ve foisted upon ourselves.
No one Has It All. Every single minute of every day, each woman (mother, businesswoman, athletic model, etc) sacrifices something in favor of something else. We each constantly weigh the pros and cons of every minute we spend doing one thing and every calorie we intake.
Maria chose to have children AND abs. While it’s a combination that can be tricky to maintain, it’s obviously doable. I guarantee, however, she sacrificed many things to make those two work. For instance, she clearly sacrificed the joy of eating a bacon cheeseburger or pizza dipped in ranch dressing. She also probably doesn’t get to toss back half a bottle of wine a night. But beyond that, I bet she didn’t have time to hand knit her family holiday gifts. And the sure bet is she didn’t bake cookies for her kids’ teachers on their birthdays. It’s possible she doesn’t get enough sleep and therefore doesn’t have time for sex with her husband. She probably doesn’t have much time for happy hour with girlfriends (and judging on the things she’s said surrounding all of this, she’s hard to be friends with anyway). She might be shitty at her job. She probably has no idea who Tyrion on Game of Thrones is. Maybe she does squats instead of tucking her kids in at night.
The problem with this photo is we don’t see her unsatisfied husband, disappointed clients or unfulfilled knitting dreams. We only see her attractive children and her abs.
I’m happy for Maria with her cute boys and her abs. I would like to have abs like that too. But I don’t want those abs more than I want pizza dipped in ranch dressing. I make lots of healthy food choices, but I am not interested in living in a world where I never eat In and Out as a second dinner at midnight after a show. This is my choice, not my ‘excuse’.
I have a lot. I have a gorgeous (smart, healthy) family. I’m in pretty good shape. My business is successful. I work hard to stay creatively fulfilled through my writing, dance and circus class. But I do not Have It All. I still haven’t put Halloween decorations away and there’s a empty ginger ale 12-pack box on the floor of my kitchen that’s been there for 3 days. I should read more to my younger two kids at night. I never (no, really, NEVER) write thank you notes. I haven’t paid my quarterly taxes for the last half of the year. I don’t have abs like Maria’s. I haven’t written that novel.
Maria doesn’t Have It All. I don’t Have It All. You don’t Have It All, and you never will. Just like you’ll never have a pet unicorn. But that’s ok, because you make choices about what works for you right now. You probably didn’t choose to have abs and children. Although I bet you do beautiful pottery work. Or maybe you rescue and foster homeless dogs. Probably your house is spectacularly clean and well put together. Don’t listen to Maria, these are not excuses. You’ve made a choice.