Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Why Do We Care If Women Are Getting Their Hair Done After Giving Birth?

In the hospital, one day after the birth of my second child. Hair is on fleek.
In the hospital, one day after the birth of my first child. Baby is adorable; hair is cringeworthy.
With my first baby, hours after she was born. I look horrible--but I don't care. I love this shot. (That nail polish though? Oof.)

I'm guessing you guys read the recent New York Times article about the supposed trend of women hiring hair and makeup pros to glam them up in the hospital for those first post-baby photos. (I use the word "trend" loosely, because in the magazine/newspaper business, "trend" often just means you found three people who did it.) 

I know we're supposed to be outraged at this (the pressure on women! the scourge of social media! the vanity!). But if I'm being honest...I don't think it's a big deal.

Okay, yes, I will say that I do think it's kind of weird to have a hairstylist literally waiting in the hospital hallway while you push out your baby, ready to swoop in, blowdryer in hand, minutes after it has been born. (To each her own, but the logistics alone? Wow. That takes some serious planning. And one seriously patient hairstylist.)

But that said, once the baby's out, once you've held her and kissed her, and had time to bond and lay skin to skin and attempt to breastfeed, once it's hours later, or even the next day, if time has passed and you'd like a nice photo of you and the baby--and if for you, nice means having hair that's not a messy, sweaty mess--why should anyone care?

In those very first hospital photos of me taken with my first child--both immediately and just hours after her birth--I look horrible. No makeup, red, blotchy face, frizzy hair, ugly hospital gown. And you know what? I don't care. That was not where my head was at that moment. And it's not where my head is when I look at them now. 

When I look at those photos, I certainly don't see something I want to rush to post on Instagram (and believe me, it took a lot of thought over whether I'd even post one here). Instead, I see a very tired woman, but one who has just fallen very much in love. I see them and I remember that day. They are real and I'm glad that I have them.

But the photos that I took the next day? Those kind of make me cringe. (That's one of them, above, where I'm wearing a white sweater.) My hospital had an awesome free service where a professional photographer would come to your room to take photos of your newborn and new family. I was so excited about this! But clearly not excited enough to do anything but wet my hair and pull it into a bun. Apparently, I didn't even bother with lipstick.

Now, of course, I was running on about seven minutes of sleep in these pictures. And I was still in a lot of pain. There is no way I could have taken 45 minutes to give myself a blowout. It's impressive that I even took a shower. (Because let me tell you, those first post-baby showers are hard.)

Don't get me wrong--I am very glad that I have these photos. But I can't stand the way I look in them, so they are not pictures I'm going to choose to display in the house. That's why they're currently doing time in the purgatory of iPhoto.

Glamsquad, and the other similar services that send hairstylists to you for a reasonable fee, didn't exist back then. But if they had? If I had had the opportunity to have someone come to my hospital room and quickly run a round brush through my hair right before the photographer arrived? Well, I can't say I would've turned them down.

Three years later, with my second child, these services still didn't exist, but I had learned my lesson. Since I was going to be induced with my son, I had my hair blown out in a salon the day before. And because of a short, very easy labor (hallelujah), it pretty much held up! Am I the hottest I've ever been in these photos? No. But my hair doesn't make me cringe.

But forget about me and my experience. Here is the bigger issue about this "trend:" Why is it anyone's business? 

Why do we care if a woman wants to feel a little pretty after having given birth? Because we looked bad at that moment so everyone should? Or because we think she should be thinking about different things? Can we accept that women actually have different thoughts? Are we actually saying that a woman who dares to think about herself for half an hour is not properly loving her baby? Think about that: Is that really what we want to be saying?

I personally know women who have cracked open a bottle of champagne or wine shortly after giving birth. I know another whose first thought was to order sushi and enjoy a smorgasbord of it in her recovery room. Why is spending 30 minutes eating sushi any better than spending 30 minutes getting a blowout? After giving birth, I personally wasn't thinking about having a drink or eating a spicy tuna roll. But I'm not going to shame the mom who was. 

The New York Times printed a "Ha! Ha! Look how dumb women are!" article--and we all fell for it.

Why can't we just let women be?

So what do you guys think? Would you have gotten your hair or makeup done right after birth? (Or did you??) And what do you think about the current backlash against those women who do?


** P.S.: After going through the photos for this post, I really wish I could go back in time and tell myself to remove that horrendous nail polish. Forget my hair--hands down, the worst part of these photos is that my nails are painted in what can only be described as a "metallic mustard." (See below.) Learn from me. Go for a classic blush pink--or nothing at all--when you're approaching that due date.

6 comments:

Mollie Sweet said...

Thank you! I can't tell you how much better I felt when I had a shower, put on a non-hospital nursing nightgown and some lip gloss. Especially because I had to have an emergency c-section and was in the hospital for 3 days. It was refreshing, I felt more like myself, and I was ready to tackle this parenting thing.

Meredith @ MommyAtoZ said...

I don't have really strong thoughts on this either way, although it's definitely not where my head was at that day. Someone had advised me to purchase a nice nursing nightgown (in which I felt attractive) for the hospital, which was a great piece of advice. My Day 2 photos look nice, and I like the way I look in them (aside from my hair)... and I didn't have to do much planning or spend a fortune!

Jennifer Corter said...

Aw, your nailpolish isn't that bad! Hey, you know what, let the ladies be. We're the ones pushing out our little bundles, it gives us the right to do what we want, be it a spicy tuna roll (I sent my husband out for Dominos) or a blowout, just let it be. I agree with you totally. By the way, your baby is adorable!

Nicci said...

Thank you for being a voice of calm reason. To each their own. If my hospital offered a hair thing, I'd totally do it. I already have the flabby post baby belly (which seems skinny and fat at the same time), why not at least feel great about my hair?

homemadeexperience.com said...

I agree–over this topic and so many others–why do others care? If someone wants to do that because it makes them feel good or content with their photos or themselves, awesome. I'm sure people had the same reaction when mothers originally started the hiring-photographers "trend" to come in and capture before, during and/or after baby. A couple days before both of my due dates I got my hair cut and a mani/pedi because it's relaxing and I knew that would probably be the last time I did either of those things before my self-care and hygiene went completely out the door for the next few months :D

Cathy K. McNease said...

Nice post and very important information for mothers.

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