ZURICH - A new German magazine called Brigitte Mom has just made its appearance at newsstands. Its a chic little publication aimed at a new species: mothers who are happy, confident and in step with the times women, in other words, who arent very mother-like. As such, these hip modern women arent content to go by the name mutter or mutti, the German words for mother. Instead they prefer the English term: Mom.
A typical Mom also has a lot of money, which is why an awful lot of things are invented just for her. Buying these pricey products will make her feel even more special. Being a Mom, in other words, is not only something worth striving for. Its what everybody envies, at least thats what the new magazine seems to convey.
So just how do a bunch of over-tired, sexually frustrated housewives and working mothers suddenly turn into Moms? Heres the way it works. You buy Brigitte Mom (the motto of which is You are my one, but not my everything and I swear Im not making that up), read it cover to cover and then get down to the business of imitating everything it says.
"Moms" just seem so much classier
Theres nothing tacky like free sachets of shampoo glued to the pages of this magazine, although there is a contest and if youre the lucky winner you get to have a housekeepers salary paid for a whole year. The editorial is also encouraging, particularly the thing about how its preferable to live imperfectly. Yes! Mabye this is the magazine for me. Lured in, I'm feeling pretty upbeat now as I leaf through to find out how to be a classy imperfect mother. After all, I already know how to be an un-classy one.
I read about single mothers who say not having a husband is sexy. Okay. Moving on. On page 21 I see a picture of pink soap shaped like a pistol. It only costs 15 euros, and it supposedly makes little boys really eager to wash their hands. Uh-huh. After that, pages of pictures of particularly beautiful women, more advertising and then some sweet stories themed around everything from adoption to falling down the stairs. Bottom line: its really exciting to be a Mom.
But my favorite part is about what Moms wear at home and at work. The fashion shots dont actually seem to make much of a difference between home-wear and work-wear: Mom is wearing a silk outfit at home, leggings by Hugo Boss at what looks like her artists studio where I spot three toys on the floor! I am so happy. Ive found the hidden classy imperfection thing its something they do in the regular Brigitte for normal women, too, a publication much read by my non-Mom mother. Theyll say something like: Weve hidden a mouse somewhere on this page, can you find it? Only here, its not a mouse, its imperfection.
Theres more imperfection to be found near the center of the magazine too: nestled in among tips for buying mood teas, a designer food-dispensing spoon for babies, and a seriously large family car is an article about some poor mother in jail and a pop-psych piece about sex (or lack thereof) in the weeks and months after childbirth. Framing these little excursions into real life is an ad for a cream that makes tummies flat and taut.
Please don't box me in
So now I know what I need to wear and buy to turn myself from a normal mother into a Mom. And Im getting a feeling of déjà vu. Years ago, when it had finally become socially acceptable to be gay, a way of living was also suddenly transformed into a lifestyle, at least in big cities. The Gay Lifestyle: happy, confident, in step with the times, and of course everybody had plenty of money. It was so chic. Half the non-gay men in Zurich were tapping into the lifestyle. I didnt have any particular problem with it, except that I noticed it didnt have a lot to do with reality including the reality of most homosexuals.
Please, dont get your knickers in a twist. I know you cant really compare Gays and Moms. Its not the same thing at all. Motherhood has never been illegal, and women have never been ostracized for being mothers -- at least not if they had a marriage license. They were just relegated to the kitchen and considered stupid.
But this Mom-Gay thing isnt about who, when or how someone was unfairly treated; thats a whole other can of worms. Its about not feeling like climbing into a compartment filled with all the stuff thats been created for me as a member of a new species just so I can buy it. Not only that, but Im supposed to smile as I step into it! I want that as little as most homosexuals, career women, singles, atheists, teenagers, house-husbands, hobby cooks, female fish farmers - you name it - feel like climbing into the compartments created for them, or at least I hope so.
Read the original story in German
Photo - Indy Charlie