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As A Mom, My Dream Is Not To Look Like A Teenage Girl

by Alex Iwashyna

in Cultural Norms (that are abnormal), Fashion and Flare

Has anyone else seen the horrific Multi Grain Cheerios advertisement on Hulu Plus? I realize that this has been on television since last summer, but I don’t have cable TV. However, I’m doing a trial of Hulu (which will go no further for reasons beyond commercials I don’t want my kids to see) so I didn’t get exposed to this terrible advertisement until a week ago.
(click here if you can’t see the video)

It starts out with a woman, who looks to me to be in her late 30s or early 40s, pulling on jeans that zip up. She’s very excited and thanks Cheerios and multigrain and eating right and exercise like it’s the Golden Globes. This is fine-ish and par for the course of any weight loss ad. I didn’t throw up in my mouth until the teenage daughter interrupts her mom’s Oscars moment by saying: Mom, are those my jeans?

Let me get this straight, my goal as the mom of a teenager, which probably puts the mom even older than I pegged her for since I will be barely 42 years old when my oldest goes to high school, is to fit into my daughter’s jeans? Wow, that’s gross. I don’t want to be a 15-year-old girl now, and I’m 34.

Even if her daughter is college-age, which makes the mom even older and more pathetic for trying on her daughter’s jeans, I am still offended that my goal is “50 is the new 20.” No 50 is 50, and until we treat as such, no one is going to feel comfortable in their own skin. Eat right. Exercise. Be realistic. Be yourself. Or Eat right and exercise until you can pretend to be three decades younger than you are. Good luck!

Even if the implication is I can now buy jeans that are hip enough to be mistaken for my daughter’s jeans, it’s still weird. Why am I dressing like a high school or young college student? Get a grip, Cheerios. Are my mom dreams reduced to having the style of a teenage girl? Not only is that unrealistic, but all I have to do is look at my daughter to realize that IT’S CREEPY AS CRAP.

Look, I have blue-streaked hair. I don’t think being hip or different is a teenage only thing. I don’t think moms have no style or opportunity to look cool and even better than they did in the pimple-popping years of high school. But shopping at Abercrombie and Fitch or fawning over stores with pathetic names like Forever 21 isn’t going to get a woman there. Idealizing youth is forgetting how much it sucked to have no idea who we were or who we wanted to be. I had so little autonomy over my life choices that I didn’t even know what shoes to buy most years — one year I was embracing the “right pair” to fit in and the next I avoiding them so I could be oh so different. Youth is fun and exciting, full of potential and midriffs and braided belts, but it is also gangling and awkward, forgetful and selfish. It’s great for young people. It’s not so great for anyone else.

I’d rather eat health and exercise and wear my own jeans, and it’s not just because these 3Ts don’t fit me.

Holding My Daughter's Jeans

Should this be my next goal weight?

I happen to like my age, and I would love companies to embrace a healthy view of every decade. But I guess the best consumers are the most uncomfortable, and, man, are my preschooler’s jeans hard to wear.

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Miss Britt January 9, 2013 1

“Idealizing youth is forgetting how much it sucked to have no idea who we were or who we wanted to be.”

Yes. This. A thousand times this.

When I went home for Christmas this year, I noticed a lot of women my age and older wearing bedazzled jeans and shopping at the same stores I shopped at in college. I was like, um, no. I may not be cool enough, or something, but no. I want to look like a grown up now, because I am one.


Lisa Rae @ smacksy January 9, 2013 2

Amen, sister.


Megan (Best of Fates) January 9, 2013 3

Okay, well, I was totally on board.

Until I saw those jeans. And those things are *adorable* and I want them. Pink polka dotted jeans? HOW MUCH CHEERIOS MUST I EAT TO WEAR SUCH THINGS??


Alex Iwashyna January 9, 2013 4

We’d have to get a little shorter too. Not too much though since you and I aren’t too tall in the first place.


Megan (Best of Fates) January 9, 2013 5

Wow. First the terrible not-allowed-pink-striped-jeans reality and now short jokes? This is a harsh day on Late Enough!

p.s. I’m sorry if you changed in months and months ago and I’m really unobservant, but I love the new photo!


Alex Iwashyna January 9, 2013 6

I only changed it a few days ago or so. Thanks!


Angela Alvarez Velez January 9, 2013 7

The best consumers are the most uncomfortable… that’s deep. And true. And sad. A discomfort-driven market. Sounds like a new economic theory.


Sarah January 9, 2013 8

Ugh. I have no desire to return to my teen years (or hell, even my teen weight). I’m kind of glad that I’ve somehow missed this commercial until now.


Kristin @ What She Said January 9, 2013 9

Okay, maybe it’s the communications major/media studies minor in me, but I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate here: I had no problem with the ad. I think it’s totally tongue-in-cheek – it clearly doesn’t take itself seriously and I don’t think it expects consumers to, either.

Now the problem, of course, lies in the fact that in our image-obsessed culture, there are women who WILL take it seriously and start eating Cheerios thinking it will help them fit into a size 0 at Forever 21. But is that the fault of the advertiser or the consumer? Personally, I think a little bit of both. But it is what it is – that’s marketing for ya.

BTW, I think you’re spot-on with this comment: “Youth is fun and exciting, full of potential and midriffs and braided belts, but it is also gangling and awkward, forgetful and selfish. It’s great for young people. It’s not so great for anyone else.” Amen. I sometimes miss feeling young, but I don’t miss youth. And I’m reminded of that every time I got to a bar. ;)


Alex Iwashyna January 9, 2013 10

I’m not very hard on advertisements in general. I don’t believe that Barbie brainwashes us or we have no autonomy within media. If this ad had ended before the daughter walked in, I wouldn’t have noticed it beyond thinking Cheerios aren’t that powerful – duh. But I just don’t see the tongue-in-cheek in the ending at all, and I watched it for a while before I wrote this piece.
I also believe the chasing of youth is a huge theme in US culture beyond ads and media, and it is sad for not only the middle age and the elderly but for our youth as well.


Melonie January 9, 2013 11

Yes! Thank you. Would that the advertising world were as smart as you.


Tracie January 9, 2013 12

“50 is 50, and until we treat as such, no one is going to feel comfortable in their own skin. Eat right. Exercise. Be realistic. Be yourself.”

Yes. Yes and amen.

My almost-50 cousin went through a phase where she borrowed all her teen daughter’s clothes. It was uncomfortable to sit through conversations with her where she bragged about it.


Roxanne January 9, 2013 13

Right on. Seriously. I agree with everything you said.


tracy@sellabitmum January 9, 2013 14

I’m just sick of 40 year old moms wearing bling on their butts. Come on ladies. You don’t have to buy mom jeans but leave the bling to the tweens.


Elaine A. January 9, 2013 15

I lose weight by NOT eating Cheerios, btw. Carbs are evil for me. ;-)

And I agree with EVERYTHING you said here.

I do have a friend who had a daughter when she was 19 and they share a lot of the same clothes. But still.


Alex Iwashyna January 10, 2013 16

I think it’s fine if the clothing is nondescript like sharing white T-shirts and MAYBE jeans if the headline isn’t LOOK I’M WEARING MY DAUGHTER’S JEANS. It’s a fine line and the mom has to be very careful that it’s not about ego and competition and some sort of lost youth crap.


Martha January 9, 2013 17

I totally get your point and I agree. The commercial is playing to our cultural definition of beauty which equals young.

What’s wrong with being 40 or 50 and having the body of a fit 40 or 50 year old? I may or may not still be able to fit into a teenager’s jeans, but who would want to?

I don’t even want to wear clothes that were made for teenagers. I remember being a teen and seeing woman who still dressed like they were young and thinking they were just pathetic.


Alex Iwashyna January 10, 2013 18

I think of how embarrassed I was for moms/women when I was a teenager whenever anytime I am tempted by being able to fit into something that is teenager-y.


Katie January 9, 2013 19

There are so many things right on with this post.

Aside from seeing teenagers every day and consequently being SO DAMN GLAD I am not one anymore, I also see adults (most of who are older than I am…also 34) whom I work with trying to be as cool or cooler than the teens. I agree with Tracy…STOP WITH THE BLING ON THE BUTT OF THE JEANS if you are over 21. Seriously? Teachers wear that to work on casual Friday. It makes me want to scream.

And even less appropriately, I see mothers of daughters come to parent/teacher conferences wearing the inappropriate clothes their daughter wore to school the day before. Apple? meet tree.

That commercial actually grinds my gears too. Poor Cort has had to listen to me crab about how no mother of a teenager should be wearing those clothes. The commercial would be better if she was shopping for NEW AGE-APPROPRIATE jeans…and not at A&F or Forever 21.


Heather January 9, 2013 20

So right after Christmas one of my daughter’s 13 year old friends posted a picture of all her new clothes that she had received for Christmas. Don’t ask me why it just seems to be the teen thing to do.

A couple of days later, the mom, who will be 40 this year, posted a picture of herself wearing her daughter’s new jeans.

At first I was horrified because that totally goes against girl rules – you don’t wear someone else’s new things until they wear it first.

And then I was so embarrassed for both of them! How horrifying to have your mom post a picture on Facebook and Instagram in your jeans. And I am sure you are not surprised to know that this mom is Facebook friends with just about every teen and tween in town.

I don’t mind not being a double zero. I had my time.


angela January 9, 2013 21

This is such an important post. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to keep our individuality and sense of fun and style. But why try to be something we’re not? (Though there is NOTHING wrong with adding a couple of polka dots to every outfit.)


Imperfect Jessica January 10, 2013 22

Hold the freaking phone! Two things, I thought the only reason to have daughters was to wear their clothes and it’s Abercrombie and Finch? No wonder people look at me like I’m crazy when I talk about that store. This whole time I thought it was cause was a chubby Puerto Rican


Imperfect Jessica January 10, 2013 23

And I say “was chubby Puerto Rican” cause obviously I’m a ghost or illiterate. As I have two munchkins pulling for my attention I’ll plead the fifth


Alex Iwashyna January 10, 2013 24

Thanks for the catch — it is Fitch. I should’ve sang that song:
“New Kids On The Block had a bunch of hits
Chinese food makes me sick.
And I think it’s fly when girls stop by for the summer,
for the summer
I like girls that wear Abercrombie and Fitch…”

PS. Just saw your second comment. Now we both made mistakes. YAY!


Libby January 10, 2013 25

I have no desire to wear my daughter’s clothes. Too many Disney princesses.


becca January 10, 2013 26

oh I have felt the same way about this commercial since it started earlier this year. I’m not a size 4, but if I wanted to fit into my teenage daughters jeans I’d have to weigh about 120 pounds less, and I’m ok with not striving for that.

at this point, I would be glad to not be almost house bound and I would be glad to drive to my osteoarthritis class. and I’m not 64, I’m 38. I’m not striving to be 18, I’m striving to be my age. Oh, and I’m also fascinated by all the really young Mamas who have toddlers with no tv. I would never have survived.


Susan Putman January 11, 2013 27

Thanks for this real take on goals that fit people. I too love my age, though it is a little further on.


Rita Arens January 11, 2013 28

I was shopping with my eight-year-old daughter for shirts a week ago. It was clearance week at Kohl’s and the juniors section was right by the door. I mindlessly started pawing through the racks when my daughter said, “Mommy, why are you looking at teenager clothes?” And I looked at her and came to my senses and marched straight over to the women’s section. Even though I’m medium sized and can fit into larger teenager clothes, I shouldn’t be wearing them, and I didn’t want to send her any message that I wanted to, even though I was seriously just looking for a shirt. I hear you.


Alex Iwashyna January 11, 2013 29

I sometimes feel forced to scan the juniors section, but I need to just stop especially as my kids get older because it’s their turn to have that style and I just feel awkward there. I wish more companies would work with women (and men) and allow us to age so more styles would be between teenagers and schoolmarms.
PS. I let my 3-year-old dressed me today so I’m sure I look ridiculous to most people — I need a special sign on these days.


Lily from It's A Dome Life January 11, 2013 30

As a woman who is, at this exact moment, wearing her husbands pants I have to agree. I just saw this commercial yesterday before a Youtube video I think. It’s so weird. Do people really want to be teenagers again? You couldn’t pay me enough to relive those years! When I was young I was so worried about being thin that I was hungry and miserable all of the time. Now I am so much more comfortable in my own skin. I try to eat right and get exercise. I want to be healthy. I want to live a long life so I can be around for grandchildren. I am much more focused on feeling good and being healthy than fitting into a certain size. Also, cheerios are not going to turn back the clock. It’s cereal, not a miracle.


Lucinda January 19, 2013 31

I guess I don’t see the ick factor. I didn’t read as much into it as you. I just saw it as a woman who was thrilled she could wear smaller jeans and the smaller jeans that were available happen to belong to her daughter. I didn’t take from that any message about trying to recapture youth. Just that she had lost weight and she was proud.


susie klein January 21, 2013 32

I thought the ad was more about being a smaller size than a fashion “wanna-be”.


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