There are MILF’s among us…

A suburban MILF

A suburban MILF

As a word of caution, this post will inevitably contain the f-bomb.  Prepare accordingly.

Both in the blogosphere and in my suburban neighborhood, I have been hearing this word (if you want to call it that) fairly often.  For the uninitiated, MILF is an acronym created by a young man in the movie American Pie to delineate “moms I’d like to fuck.”  Crude, yes, but we are talking about teenage boys.  MILF seems to me to be a term used primarily in relation to 40’s-ish moms who are deemed attractive to young men.  It’s one of those words (I will use the term “word” from now on, knowing that it is in fact an acronym) that seems to pervade the culture in a slow and steady way, until it becomes a moniker that we can all understand.  Even though my friend Barbara had to look it up.  Which made me like her even more.

In the blogosphere, there has been a huge debate going on mostly led by Danielle Smith of extraordinarymommy.com.  She finds the term offensive, believing that it is demeaning to women in that we may feel the need to make ourselves look hot for the opposite sex.  She goes on to say that being called a MILF is not a compliment and never was, however, goes to great pains in her radio interview on “Q” to say that when she goes out with friends, young men hit on her and the silly little fools don’t realize that she is older than she appears.  She also says the term feeds into a misogynistic society’s desire to pigeon-hole women into an ideal of pornographic object.  Her last point is that the word itself is shocking, so as to align with our current culture of “reality” programming: fast, loose and sell-worthy.  While I agree with her assertion here, let’s not kid ourselves.  Ms. Smith on her site is selling her book and her brand, and she righteously says she is not going to use profanity.  She does say, “oh my heavens” though.

All this debate about MILF’s started when Ms. Smith received a press release about a book called “The MILF Diet:  Let the Power of Whole Foods Transform your Body, Mind and Spirit,” by Jessica Porter.  I know, at first read this title seems at cross purposes:  How does eating in a clean way make you a dirty and naughtly girl?  But apparently, Ms. Porter has some very clear ideas on MILFdom.  A true MILF is confident, sexy and radiates natural feminity, she says.  Really?  Go back to the American Pie clip and you will see the original MILF in a self -aggrandizing photo looking anything but natural.  Clearly, it’s a ploy to sell a book.  Both of these women have persuasive bones of contention, but both have a financial interest in their defending their side of the argument.  I, however, do not.

My friend Taryn has, in her authentic and exuberant way, put together a running team for an upcoming event.  The name of the group?  “The Vantucky MILF’s.”  Obviously not landing on Ms. Smith’s side of the argument, she sees the term as empowering and a great way to rally the troops.  Having not officially signed up for the team yet, I can say that I think that this type of mommy-promotion is great.  When in years past, can you remember a mom being called outwardly sexy?  There was a latent Carol Brady sexuality some might say, but it has truly come to fruition in the term MILF.  This generation is not content to sit on the sidelines while younger women pass them by.  So what?  I am of the camp that if it makes you feel good and it’s not hurting anyone, then go ahead and own it.  If feeling attractive to the opposite sex is not something you are interested in, then let it go.  Most women I have unscientifically polled would take it as a compliment, but not all.  So if you don’t, fine.  But really, can’t it just be a little bit fun?

But here’s the neuroscience facts, ladies.  We are complex sexual beings.  In Louann Brizendine M.D.’s compelling book, “The Female Brain,” she states that basically, we need to relax.  Unlike men, it takes a lot of “neurochemical stars to align” to feel comfortable in the bodies we inhabit. A certain amount of letting go, thanks to that lovely little structure called the amygdala, is required to get there.  So, if seeing yourself as a MILF and proclaiming it helps you along, what’s the harm?  You may be more inclined to eat whole foods, go for a run, bake a pie or even start a business to feel desirable and alluring.   Whatever works.  Of course, like many of you, I do not look forward to the day when, perhaps my daughter might ask me what a MILF is.  (She recently asked me what a prostitute was.  Eesh.)  But I am sure on my feet and in my words, so I know the answer will come.  Popular culture dictates that all things provocative and in-your-face are of the moment.    However, I am also confident that, with our help, the generation we are raising knows the difference between “reality-tv” and well,  reality.  We have to keep making that distinction for them.  It’s a new and challenging aspect of being a parent in our time.

In the meantime, I enjoy seeing how the word makes it’s way through our culture.  I am not in control of it, and am powerless to rail against it even if I was so inclined.

What about you?

Photo courtesy of Mt. Hood Mama Iphoneography

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An Open Letter to My Body

Before I share my letter, some background.  I have a body.  So do you.  Over the years, it has frequently gotten a raw deal in terms of how I think about it.  It’s much easier to think of it negatively than any other way.  However, as I have discovered, there is a reason for this.  In Louann Brizendine’s fantastic book, “The Female Brain,” she explains that there is a part of our brains assigned to the task of negative thinking.  This tiny little formation, called the anterior cingulate cortex, is responsible for how you worry, compare and judge yourself (and others) negatively.  You know the whole Ashley Judd thing going on now?  About how she was portrayed in the media as having a “puffy face”?  Well she wrote quite the essay about it in the Daily Beast  Anyway, those people criticizing her were using their anterior cingulate cortex.  But we can be quite brutal to ourselves using the same tiny little structure.

Okay, yes, men have the same neuroanatomy.  But, this particular structure is larger in women.  We use it to meticulously observe emotion in others (Did she do a double take when she looked at me?  Does she think I look fat?)  We judge (I can’t get away with wearing this, my hips are too big!).   In the ultimate double-whammy, our brains are also super sensitive to hormone fluctuations, which does the unsavory task of amplifying any emotional nuance which may (or may not) be present.  In other words, if you are two days from your period, you are even more hyper-aware of any hint of emotion in others.  So, my daughter just came into the room all pouty and quiet.  I asked her what was wrong and she shrugged her shoulders and walked away.  I am now wondering what is wrong. My husband would have completely missed this, I am sure.  Not because he is a bad parent.  But because he is not evolved to be as cognizant of such things.

A 2000 study by Thomas Joiner at Florida State University found that we are hard wired to remember the bad stuff more vividly and shamefully even if it is manufactured in our own heads.  So, if you think your butt is too big, even if no one else has pointed this out or told you so, decades of telling yourself make you acutely ashamed of your butt.  On top of that, if you are in any way nervous or anxious when you make such a judgment on yourself (think:  first time you meet someone, at a job interview, on a date, speaking in front of a group, the entirety of middle school), the negativity sticks like glue.

So, in hopes of dispelling the negative and embracing the positive,  I will share my own letter:

Dear Body,

Please accept my apologies.  I have thought the worst about you for a long time now and I need to let you off the hook.  I am sorry, in no particular order, about the following:

Sometimes, when I look at you, I feel ashamed.  Like you are a reflection of laziness or my unbridled desire for cheese.

I have been angry at you for things which are not your fault, like dark hair and zits.  My sister has the same amount of hair but it’s blond so she doesn’t have to shave it.  Bitch.

I did not appreciate your younger incarnations, your lack of gray strands and your fuller breasts. 

I know bodies come in different sizes, and I never stopped wishing for one that was different than you. 

I have imagined you changed by plastic surgery. 

I have a hard time listening to you, like when you are tired or sick.  I get frustrated too quickly with you when you aren’t what I want right now.

Reading all those shape and fitness magazines!   They only make me be more judgemental of you.  I mean, we could manage a bikini, couldn’t we?   Okay, dammit, we don’t have to!

Equating how you look with how worthy a person I am.  That’s not fair.

Never trying on clothes because I don’t want to face you in that fucking dressing room mirror.  You deserve better than that.

Even though my husband says you are beautiful, I have a hard time digesting that.  The bad stuff I tell myself is easier to believe. 

Commenting on the appearance of other women.  It’s not compassionate.

Still berating myself after so many years.  It is really fucking old, isn’t it?

Exposing you to toxins to make you more attractive.  Like tanning beds, dexatrim and Jazzercise. 

I also wish to thank you for the following:

My babies.  I am so lucky to have not struggled with a thousand interventions to help me get and stay pregnant, and that you graced me with adequate milk supply and the ability to cry at the slightest provocation.

Bouncing back.  Every time.

Working with me during yoga.  I know you don’t like being stretched that way but we have made some excellent progress!

Sex.  No, reader, you are not getting any more information than that.

Being remarkably healthy and relatively free of aches and pains.  You are holding up quite nicely.

Dancing with my girls.  Sheer bliss.

My breath.  Being able to use it has helped us become so much more grounded. 

Being able to ride my bike.  So simple, so special.

My brain.  You make me curious, which keeps me alive.

Being able to touch my toes, hold my pee until I make it to the bathroom, enjoy delicious food, read great books, hug my kids, listen to transcendent people and music,  navigate a car,  run with my dog and a thousand other things I take for granted on a daily basis.

Love,

Your owner

A two parter!  Next post will be about research to make all of us feel better about our bodies.  We could all use a little more self acceptance.

In case you are interested, here is the link to Ashley Judd’s essay.  And all the praise and criticism for it:

(http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/09/ashley-judd-slaps-media-in-the-face-for-speculation-over-her-puffy-appearance.html).