Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What is True Feminine Beauty?

Have you seen a Victoria’s Secret catalog lately? Those women are beautiful, and undoubtedly, they have a lot of sex – those women are so physically perfect they could probably get any man they wanted in bed. Buy the matching bra and panty, and you can be that sexy too! Victoria’s Secret (VS) products celebrate a woman’s sensuality and physical beauty.

What they don’t teach you in health class, or even admit at the doctor’s office, is that if you’re having sex, you might as well expect to get pregnant. Sure the Pill is supposedly 99.9% effective, if you always remember to take all the pills, at about the same time each day. Even so, that’s a bit shy of 100%. I worked in an office with 7 other women, of those, 6 of them had children or were planning maternity leave. Three of those six women said that their babies had been conceived while they were using birth control! That’s only 50% effective, folks. So, no matter what type of relationship you are in, a lot of times “sex = babies.” That mindset might make a person think twice!

We live in a world where sex is glamorous and where individuals believe they can control whether they bear children or not, with the use of contraceptives or “choice”. Turn on the TV; everybody’s doing it, talking about doing it, wanting to do it, making fun of those who aren’t doing it, using it to sell other products – the list goes on. Even one of the longest running, best loved “family” shows, Everybody Loves Raymond; it was well known that Ray and Deborah had premarital relations, even to be so specific as to say it was on his mother’s plastic-covered sofa! I am not sure whether the media is depicting what it sees from the culture at large, or whether the culture is copying what it sees in the media. Either way, people today are having a lot of sex outside of the marriage bed, and they certainly don’t expect pregnancy to follow.

What I’m getting at is that while women may be beautiful and sexual creatures, what companies such as VS and media deny or forget to mention is that sex often produces babies. Suddenly the slim waistline is filled with the fullness of a child forming inside, those curvy hips become a generous space for birthing a baby, those beautiful breasts are capable of lactation, and the message is that those functions of a woman’s body make her no longer desirable. The world says hurry up and lose that baby weight, wean that child, lose those stretch marks, hide that cesarean scar. In doing so, it turns motherhood into something to be avoided, rather than celebrated. It turns the bodily changes that happen on the journey of motherhood from joy and wonder into things to be lamented. The world does not value her intelligently designed life-giving features, if they are to be used in that capacity.

Victoria’s Secret produces some of the most innovative, high-tech, supportive, well-designed bras and other lingerie and sleepwear for a woman that is available on the market today. I must admit that some of my favorite and most comfortable bras came from VS. They have perfected their product in fit, fabric, and quality. They offer a variety of colors, styles, shapes, support levels in their lingerie. They even offer some styles for plus-size women, so they can celebrate their sexuality as well. Even the loungewear fits great and the fabrics used are so soft and comfy! The company excels at producing well-fitting garments in attractive styles and colors using comfortable, cutting edge materials.

However, VS refuses to allow women who are mothers to believe their bodies have value beyond appearance. They do not offer maternity sizes at all. It is tough for an expecting mother to find comfortable clothing, her body changes so quickly and dramatically! VS would be able to design sleepwear and loungewear for expecting mothers to look and feel great in, but do they? No! On top of that, try to find a single nursing bra in the VS catalog, or even at their online store. No such thing. Countless different bra options to accentuate their breasts’ sensual beauty, but nothing that could provide optimal fit and function when it comes to another equally, or dare I say MORE important function the breast has, that of nourishing an infant.

A woman’s body is fearfully and wonderfully made by God. I do not wish to brush off the issue that unmarried sex is not a godly thing to do. However, sex within marriage is a gift from God that should be celebrated by husband and wife, and if God blesses the marriage with children, so much the better. It would just be nice if the worldly view wasn’t to make wives and mothers feel less beautiful as they prepare to bear and nourish their children. With the negative thoughts towards motherhood by society as a whole, is it any wonder than an unwed woman who finds she’s unexpectedly expecting chooses to have an abortion? We need to carefully examine how our world defines beauty as it says so much about our value system. A woman’s body is beautiful, not in spite of the purposes it can accomplish by the grace of God but because of them.

As a new mother myself, I am reminded of how difficult it was to find clothing, undergarments, and sleepwear that actually fit my changing maternal body. Most of the time I spent hours searching the web to find things to fit, and even then the fit was generally poor. Walk into the nearest department store, and maternity wear and nursing bras in general are not easy to find. Having to search that much to find garments to fit and for such a basic function as pregnancy and nursing wear makes a person feel a bit like a deviant, when in fact you see mothers everywhere you go! Why does our culture make it so difficult for a woman to use her body the way it was designed to be used?!

If companies such as Victoria’s Secret are going to make it their mission to make products that accentuate the beauty of a woman’s body, all I ask is that they provide products for every stage in a woman’s life, and for many that involves motherhood. The body changes of pregnancy and breastfeeding should be celebrated, not hidden away as something to be ashamed of. Shortly after the birth of my daughter, I chose to no longer make purchases from VS, at least not until the company acknowledges that motherhood is beautiful too by making maternity and nursing styles available for purchase at their stores. I pray for the day that motherhood and true family values become mainstream to the point that it is easy to shop for the needs of a growing family.

I happened upon this wonderful online store yesterday www.mom4life.com which has a wonderful selection of products, many of which our family uses on a daily basis. Mom4Life is basically a one stop shop for a mother, I wish I had found their site sooner. Check it out today! It is a great answer to the difficulties in finding quality products for mothering children, however I feel that there should not be a need to have “specialty” stores for these products. Motherhood is as mainstream as children themselves, it is time our culture accepted that and embraced the maternal body of a woman.