On the cover of my album “Sex & Guitars,” which I released more than ten years ago, I’m wearing a vinyl miniskirt, leaning back in a bed, guitar in arms, eyes seductively gazing into the camera.
I still love seeing this photo of me in my pre-kids, pre-marriage days — although (sadly) I don’t wear the vinyl skirt much anymore for lack of opportunity (it doesn’t feel quite right for a PTA meeting or mommy-and-me gym class). Perhaps I shouldn’t be sad: The black vinyl skirt represented a sexy, racy moment in 2008 that resonated with the album’s theme — love, careless flings and heartbreak. That moment felt amazing to live, and is wonderful to remember.
Fast forward to 2018, and I’m a mom of two very young boys. And while I still rock a tight dress, I feel a little weird when I put clothes on that are provocative and un-momlike, at least in the traditional sense. This is true whether I’m going out with my girlfriends or playing a gig.
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I’m not necessarily surprised by my feelings. Women are frequently slut-shamed for how they dress, and still expected to carry on differently when they become wives and mothers. I’ve heard more than one comment from certain relatives that I should give up bikinis in the summertime, although I find one-piece bathing suits uncomfortable. As such, there’s a tiny voice on rock show nights that asks, “Marisa, is that really appropriate for a mother to wear?”
So today, as a favor to myself, I’m posting this photo of me in my favorite black mini dress, the stretchy one I tend to wear onstage these days, my parental status and age damned. I work out and eat healthfully — why shouldn’t I wear what I want? But even if I didn’t work out and eat healthfully, I should still be entitled to wear what I want.
I wholeheartedly believe in self expression: Anyone, regardless of their size or shape, should be able to wear the clothes that most resonate with their spirit, and makes them feel most beautiful. While there are certain events that dictate style — for example, I wouldn’t wear a vinyl skirt to a church service or a crop top to a parent-teacher conference — why should having kids mean I have to stifle my self expression on stage, when I am performing?
Of course, some have said my kids may feel weird as they get older, seeing mom dressing like a 25-year-old in a concert hall. But maybe they shouldn’t. Maybe we should challenge ageism and the idea that women who flaunt their bodies should cover up the minute they get pregnant, never reverting to their carefree youths. Maybe challenging flawed ideals will help our children embrace their own inner rockstars, however such self-expression manifests itself, when they are performing or creating art.
OK, that was a mouthful.
In all seriousness, I’d love to hear from my readers in the comments: Should rocker moms dress less provocatively after becoming parents? If so, to what extent? Are there any limits to self-expression in parenthood?
— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy