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By Katia Bishops, REDBOOK.
Last week, a writer I admire tweeted the following: "I'm no Kardashian defender, but this is NOT cool. @TIME. This pic of Kim Kardashian shows why women can't have it all http://t.co/ATw9HzTxqn."
On one hand, I'm not a fan of Kim Kardashian, but on the other, I am an avid consumer of crapfun, I clicked right over to the Time magazine article titled "This Photo of Kim Kardashian Shows Why Women Can't Have it all." The image in question is a photograph showing Kim pushing a stroller with an undone blazer and nothing underneath, puffy blowout hair and glamour shot makeup. Meh, not exactly an OMG- someone-alert-TMZ worthy item.
Eager to find out how the writer intends to substantiate in 124 words that women can't have it all based on a photograph of Kim sporting an updated Sue Ellen Mischke look and a stroller I kept on reading, but I walked away confused, slightly disturbed and not at all smiling.
The piece argues that K.K. tries to be "every type of woman at the same time."
"The stroller says "I'm a mommy," but her boobs say "I'm a sex goddess." Her silver eyeliner says "I'm a party animal," while her nude lipstick says "I'm a natural beauty." Her retro blowout says "I'm pulled together" while her blazer, well, isn't. But above all, her shoulder pads say "I'm a professional," which she most certainly is. (Kardashian's estimated worth is $45 million.)"
It then notes that Kim is indeed having it all in one picture "Baby + boobs + beauty + blowout + blazer " and finally summarizes: "Three cheers for Kim Kardashian, the Mrs. Potato Head of modern womanhood."
So why am I so bothered?
Do I not agree that this look is over-the-top? Probably. But are we looking at a fashion critique? If this is what the text is, then a more appropriate title would be "This Photo of Kim Kardashian Shows Why 'Women Can Have it All' Is Not a Good Look."
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It's called humor, some will argue. Do I no longer possess a sense of humor? I do, but I didn't think this was funny.
And what am I, the humor police? I know. I'm a little surprised about this myself. I mean, throughout my life I've somehow always managed to belong to one minority group or another and it's not like I don't laugh at jokes about Jewish people, immigrants, or Russians so what's up with that? Do I really think that the subject of "women can't have it all" is off limits? Clearly not.
So why am I so bothered?
I guess it's not about the joke itself, but the tone. The line between humor and mockery is not all that fine, is it?
So someone's mocking Kim Kardashian. She's already moved on. Why can't I do the same? Why am *I* still SO bothered?
I'm not sure. Perhaps it's the implied message that women can only be one thing at a time. The writer talks of Kim trying to be every "type" of woman (again, rather than trying to sport every type of look) and creates a clear juxtaposition between the different "types", because if you're a mom then clearly you can't also be a sex goddess (and let's ignore Kim Kardashian for a second), nor can you be a professional.
So why does that bother me?
Is it because it's a reduction of the female character and presents a simplistic view that one woman can't work, party, mom and look attractive at the same time or is because I feel that I'm failing at my own juggling act?
Perhaps it's because yesterday morning my life was derailed when an all too familiar "Women Can't Have it All" natural disaster struck. I will have to give up the idea of finding part time employment which would allow me to stay involved in my children's lives to the extent that I want to, and will have to go back to full time work in one of the most stressful jobs out there.
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You didn't know me when I was working full time and trying to raise a 13-month-old. I looked like a skeleton and not because I wasn't just as fond of Coca Cola and all things sweet--but because I was burning calories through anxiety. The job I was in required learning and working around the clock and being responsible for factors beyond my control in order to not fail. All of the above applied to my job as a mom to my precious little boy, as well. I would often show up to work with 3.5 hours of sleep under my belt.
As a first year daycare attendee my son was always sick. Whenever I left him at home with a sitter I felt a burning, physically painful sense of guilt for not being there. When I took days off from work to be with him, take him to the doctor or stay at the hospital with him, I was on the phone with the office, trying to distract my son, sending and receiving emails, preparing candidates for job interviews, collecting information from them on how the interview went, apologizing and being eaten up alive by guilt for being that employee who is taking sick days off. I ended up going on my second leave owing my workplace vacation days, as I've used them all up on sicknesses, my own and my child's.
Perhaps this post just hit too close to home.
There's a lot I still don't understand about this post and my reaction to it. What is it that bothers me most about this piece? Is it the surprisingly shallow premise? The fact the editors went along with it? The fact that I can't define what that text is? It doesn't really qualify as social commentary, not on-topic enough to be considered as fashion critique, not really the opinion piece I would expect to see in a publication of Time's caliber. It feels an awful lot like a personal attack on Kim Kardashian and somehow on me, as well.
The short post ends with the sentence: Three cheers for Kim Kardashian, the Mrs. Potato Head of modern womanhood.
While the look Kim is sporting may deserve to be critiqued from a fashion stand point, I disagree with the premise that the attempt to be everything at the same time is the laughable equivalent of a "potato head." Modern womanhood, and especially motherhood, is indeed about trying to be everything and fighting off terrible, unrealistic, all consuming guilt for not always being successful at perfection. Posts like that don't help.
Katia blogs at IAMTHEMILK, where she writes about her two boys and sometimes her husband.