By Heydy Sanches
MOMS IN MAGAZINES
This was our first class project and we had to look through different eras of magazines to see the differences and or similarities of moms being portrayed in print media. My era in particular was 1965-1966. Within these years, moms were being told that being a stay at home, career-less woman was the best thing to be. A lot of the articles, advertisements, and models in the magazines had that step ford wife kind of look. It shocked me because I could not believe women actually lived that way. It's like they were robots that only had three buttons that said clean, cook, or give birth. What shocked me even more was that not only was the magazine I was specifically looking at that way, but almost all of the women's magazines during that era had the same images, articles, advertisements. The 1960s was a time when the world was changing and incrible things were happening, however, none of these women’s magazines ever mentioned any of it. Their content was all fashion, cooking, cleaning, and kids stuff. What I learned from this project, was to be thankful I am a millennial and happy I was not around in that time only because it felt so confined. Overall, mothers were not accurately portrayed in print media/magazines in the 1960s.
FEMININE MYSTIQUE - THE PROBLEM THAT HAS NO NAME
One of my favorite parts of the class was reading the Feminine Mystique. I usually hate reading books, but this was one of the first books that I have fully read in college and actually enjoyed reading. I liked it mainly because it was so scandalous. The writer of the book was writing this book to the women of her day basically telling them, HEY WAKE UP WOMEN!! I tried to read it as if I was a mom in the 1950s-1960s. What the author was writing was super intense and head turning and I am sure it caused a lot of problems for a lot of people reading it. I liked the statistics that were in some of the chapters and learned about things I did not know about before. For example, I learned that women were not able to run a business or open a checking account without her husband’s permission. I also learned that if a woman’s husband lived in Texas but she went to college in Oklahoma, she had to pay out of state tuition. Those were one of the many things that stayed with me after reading. It was head turning, shocking, and like I said, scandalous. It was a great choice for us to read and it definitely set the mood of the class.
MOMS IN BOOKS
The novel I read this semester was We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. It was one of the most bizarre, dark, yet one of the most interesting books I have ever read. The main subject was Kevin, Eva’s son, who was a psychopath and commits a horrendous crime and also was centered on his upbringing. However, the book was written through Eva’s point of view, which allowed the readers to feel and understand the relationship she had with her son. She was cold, depressed, and not ready for motherhood when she had Kevin, therefore she blamed herself in the end for his actions. While reading, I felt like the Shriver depicted Eva as a bad mom. Eva seemed not to care about Kevin, and when she did “care” it felt forced. She also stated how she never even wanted him in the first place, which was odd to me. You hardy ever hear mothers admit how much they do not want their own child. Overall, I felt like this novel was a good read because it did not show the mother-son relationship as perfect, instead it showed the difficulty of motherhood for someone who was not ready to give up her own life to start a new one. However, it was very strange and probably would only recommend it to readers who are into dark and twisted things.
MOMS IN FILM
During the film part of the class, I studied Leanne Tuohy, played by Sandra Bullock, on The Blind Side. I loved this movie, I loved her character, and I loved the overall message of the movie. Sandra Bullock did an excellent job playing a tough mom role. Leanne was depicted as a strong willed, nurturing, southern woman who brought in a stranger into her family. The only thing she wanted for her kids was success and was willing to do anything for them to have that. Although Leanne was not the typical warm sweet mom, she did have a sensitive emotional side to her, which I felt was the most important part of her character. It allowed viewers to remember that she was human and not the robot mom she seemed to be. I felt like this movie did accurately depict her as a mother. Perhaps not many mothers are exactly like her, but a lot of mothers definitely have the same characteristics as her such as her willing to do anything and everything for her children to become successful, or her being supportive during their school or sporting events. Not only was watching this film fun, but it was also fun to see my classmates analysis about their movies and how moms were portrayed in theirs.
MOMS IN TELEVISION
When we learned about mothers in TV, I felt like many if not all mothers are portrayed almost in the same way. For example, they are always a typical stay at home mom, married, happy, with at least two kids, and middle class. Some specific examples may include the TV moms like Carol from The Brady Bunch, Claire from The Cosby Show, Norma Bates from the Bates Motel or Kitty from That’s 70s Show. Moreover, I feel as if most TV shows portray moms as funny, caring and nurturing, which if you think about it, is kind of accurate. Most moms ARE that way, at least the ones I know. Essentially, what I learned from this lecture and project was to pay much more attention to the mom roles on TV. Now when I watch TV, I notice the roles of moms a whole lot more. When I'm watching Bates Motel, I cannot help but think of this class. Norma Bates is so goofy and weird, but she loves her kid to death, literally. Or when I am watching Grey’s Anatomy, Ellis Gray is such a tough mom, I just think of how different she is portrayed compared to other TV moms.
MOMS IN ADVERTISING
Our last project was about moms in advertisements. I found this one the most interesting because I am very interested in advertising and marketing. When I was searching for my three ads, I found so many that I wanted to present. I have always noticed how ads depict moms as stay at home moms. If you take a look, almost 90% of them are stay-at-home moms. In the 1950s-1970s especially! Advertisements are apart of our world, they are everywhere, so when women see ads about motherhood or ads portraying a mom, I am pretty sure they think, “is that how it is supposed to be?” Advertisements attempt to create an ideal society by showing perfect skinny moms in cleaning commercials or by showing a stress-free working mom on an ad. All of those things are false. You will hardly ever find a mom who is stress free or a mom with a Victoria Secret model body, because it is not realistic. I definitely learned a lot from this project and I enjoyed hearing real mothers responses to my survey questions. Hearing their responses on a fitness mom ad was the most entertaining, only because I know just like they know, the “what’s your excuse [to not be fit]?” is the fact that they are actually real working moms with almost no time to themselves.
MOMS IN DISNEY FILMS
When we learned about the portrayals of motherhood in Disney and animated films, it was kind of like a wake up call for me. Whenever I watch Disney movies, the moms are hardly ever mentioned or barley shown, which causes viewers tend to forget that there is even a mom. However in some Disney films, although there may be no mention of a mother at all, that does not mean there are not any mother figures. When I realized that, I started to think, well are those mothers or mother figures accurately portrayed? Unsurprisingly, no they are not. The moms or mother figures are always either super-happy and creepy or just plain evil. It is either one thing or the other in Disney movies. There is usually no in between and if there is, it’s rarely. If people were to look at animated films vs. regular real life films, although none are accurate, the real life movies are more likely to portray a real mother figure. Overall, it was good to see the differences in Disney/animated films and how all the moms are shown or not shown, because I think it is something we all fail to think about when we are watching.
MOMS IN CHILDRENS/TEEN BOOKS & MOVIES
We had many examples about mothers in children’s books and in teen movies/TV shows. They were both very different and some were more accurately portrayed than the other. For example, in children books, most moms are shown as loving, caring, and nurturing whilst in teen movies/TV shows the moms are shown either really good moms or really bad moms. All the examples from class were great and I could not think of better ones. I actually thought about this lecture when I was at work. There was a bookshelf with a whole bunch of books for sale and a lot of them were children’s books. I briefly read one of the books on the shelf and it was about a momma explaining to her baby how much she loved her from a ten to one countdown. The entire time I was reading it, I was thinking, “okay how real is this portrayal of a mother?” and it was pretty realistic to me, at least. I know plenty of moms who explain how much they love their kids. From now on, I am going to think of this class whenever I see children’s books with moms involved or teen movies/TV shows.