We’ve all seen the NSFW Kim Kardashian West Paper Magazine photos. Some people love it. Some people hate it. I tend to fall on the “it’s art” side of the argument: subjective and open to interpretation. However, many responses to Kim Kardashian West’s latest publicity have been viciously negative in a way that I am not ok with – people are shaming her decision to take nude photos because she’s a mom.
A recent New York Times Op-Ed I shared with my readers via Facebook preemptively addressed this issue. Author Heather Havrilesky’s piece “Our ‘Mommy’ Problem” addressed the defining of women by their reproductive status in an incredibly poignant way. Havrilesky wrote, “Motherhood is no longer viewed as simply a relationship with your children, a role you play at home and at school, or even a hallowed institution. Motherhood has been elevated — or perhaps demoted — to the realm of lifestyle, an all-encompassing identity with demands and expectations that eclipse everything else in a woman’s life.” In short, when a woman becomes a mom, it’s expected that she lose her identity.
Kim Kardashian West is not your average woman (or “mom,” for that matter). However, her role as a mom is something we should talk about, because like Kim, I’m a mom, but I don’t want my role as a mom to be used to attack me or limit my choices as an individual.
We all understand that parents have a responsibility to their children to care for and protect them. We understand that, as parents, we’re the first real role models in our children’s lives. But North West, Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West’s daughter, is 16 months old. She’s not looking at Paper Magazine, and if she is, she’s not sexualizing her mother. In fact, most 16 month olds see their moms naked all the time. A mom’s decision to pose nude, run for office, enjoy a night out, or work outside the home should not be under criticism because “she’s a mom”. Fact: moms are people, too. We’re people who are not just moms. We are, in fact, adult people. Imagine that! Many of us have ambitions beyond the playground, but we are shamed into thinking that our lives are no longer our own – that motherhood is the be all, end all of our existence. Once we have children, we’re treated like it’s all over.
That’s not true.
And it needs to change. Now.
Women, who happen to be moms, can be outstanding role models to children by furthering their careers and trying new things. The idea that women, who happen to be moms, can be influential both in and out of the home is something we should not only accept – it’s something we should encourage. Too many moms have felt the painful pull of responsibility hold them back from pursuing other projects. They’ve sacrificed their own wants and needs in order to avoid judgment and socially required guilt.
“Mom” is how your children define you; it shouldn’t be how society defines you. The fact that you are someone’s mom should have nothing to do with how the adult world views your contribution to society. You are not society’s mom. You are not society’s nanny. You are not society’s moral compass. You’re a person, who happens to be a parent. Feel free to pose nude.