My daughter and I go to Whole Foods from time to time to get free samples of their deliciously overpriced fare. We go on weekdays in the morning, when other stay-at-home moms are out and about with their children. I usually don’t refer to myself as a stay-at-home mom; when people ask what I do for a living, I tell them I’m “taking a hiatus.” Now that hiatus may turn into 50 years of joblessness, but I don’t care.
I have issues with the term “stay-at-home mom.” When I hear it, visions of yoga pants dance in my head—and not in a good way. I’ve stereotyped my kind into two camps: the Lululemon Camp whose members fritter their days away between tennis lessons, barre class, and trips to gourmet grocery stores, and the Walmart Camp whose members, in between clipping coupons and adjusting their scrunchies, scream at their kids in public and look exhausted.
I’m not alone in this belief. Many people have cast stay-at-home moms as either spoiled and shallow or haggard and barely holding things together. Although these stereotypes are neither fair nor valid, they’re powerful enough for me to take an oath: I won’t wear yoga pants in public, unless I am actually working out.In recent years, yoga pants have morphed from mere workout wear to a must-have lifestyle product, with top-notch brands like Lululemon seeing its $100+ versions flying off the shelves. Discount retailers like Target and Walmart offer their own affordable versions that attempt to replicate this trend, with varying levels of success.
Stacy London of TLC’s What Not to Wear and style correspondent for NBC’s Today Show says, “A pair of jeans with a zipper and a button takes a nanosecond longer, and it says, ‘Hey, I’m important too. It’s not just about my kids.’ You’re telling your kids you matter, and you’re setting yourself up as a role model for them—that you always need to have a certain amount of self-respect and put a certain amount of care into your appearance.”
Clothes do communicate something about who you are, intentional or not, fair or not. Yoga pants in public are so judged and unfairly associated with stay-at-home moms that I refuse to feed the stereotype, even if I partially believe it to be true.