My Mommy Manifesto: I Jiggle When I Wiggle, and other Truths
Updated: Oct 14, 2021
By Julie Calidonio
Am I the only one who scrolls social media and feels inadequate and paunchy? I can’t even follow Sally Cheesecake anymore. Damn perky breasts and wrinkle free face that make me question my own droopy boob and crow’s feet. I can’t be the only woman who jiggles when she wiggles? But I know no matter how amazing other people look on social media, no matter how wonderful their lives seem, deep down it is all a mirage. No one is happy all the time. No one’s marriage and kids are perfect. No one actually has naturally perky breasts at midlife. I talk to women all the time and rich, poor, married, single, tall, short, we all feel vulnerable. So why do we all pretend otherwise on social media?
I tried being honest in some posts and my mother actually called me and said in her incredibly distinctive voice that is often imitated but can never be duplicated: “Julie, (why did you write that post about going to the doctor with two different shoes and only remembering to shave one leg, or about the kids being assholes at Disney, or the one about a stranger asking whether you were pregnant?”
“Mom, because it’s true and it’s okay to say life is hard and share these truths with other moms who might be struggling.”
“Oh no,” she said, “just be like everyone else and pretend everyone and everything is wonderful. That’s what social media is for. Let everyone think your life is perfect.”
“You want me to lie?”
“No. Just omit the truth.”
And this mentality is why we scroll social media and end up hating ourselves. Because women feel compelled to present a distorted and picturesque view of their lives, which sets off a vicious cycle of always comparing yourself to Sally Cheesecake, despite the fact that Sally Cheesecake’s posts are full of shit. Sally Cheesecake is just as insecure as you are, and is currently in her closet eating a gallon of ice cream while her kids roam her house trying to find her. So here are my universal truths:
Most people’s selfies are fake as fuck. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and am confused by my own face. Who’s this woman with no neck and protruding jowls, whose eyebrows seem to be a caterpillar crawling across her face? My selfies are so good I even fool myself into believing that’s what I look like. Who knew high angles could be so important? If only I could go through life with everyone looking down at me, instead of directly at me. And it’s not even just the angles. Now everyone uses filters and white lights to make themselves seem youthful. I did a telemedicine with my middle-aged doctor and even he used a white light. The man looked ten years younger. I was perplexed. I mean I’ve seen him in person, and although he looks pretty good for his age, he doesn’t look that good. Can any of us just accept who we are and look our age without fearing repercussions? I’m not going to discount someone’s medical advice if it came from their authentic and unaltered self. Or would I? He did look good with the white light. . .
What we really look like:
What I pretend we look like:
Most women my age have actually aged and have a little bump in their belly. I scroll my feed and am intimidated at how amazing other women my exact age look. God help me how do their breasts appear to still be two separate entities capable of standing up on their own. No wrinkles. Flawless skin. But the reality is, in addition to good angles and lighting in their selfies, a lot of women my age use Botox and fillers, and so many have breast implants. I might be heading down that path myself any day now. I had been reluctant to inject myself with something foreign, but this year I was injected with something that was supposed to make me radioactive (twice in fact), and I somehow survived so how bad could implants be? I mean, the other shots were arguably to keep me from dying, and implants and Botox would just keep me from looking old, but still. If I am going to take risks, why stop there? And silicon is a naturally occurring element. How could that be harmful? And Botox is used for migraines and incontinence. I have both of those things! It could make me look young and keep me from peeing myself. Double win! But if I do it, I would do it for myself, not to please others. Or at least that's what I tell myself. I’d also come clean about it. I don’t need other women comparing their natural faces to mine and feeling bad.
With that in mind, if you see me on social media and think I look thin, know that I am not. I only post pictures where I look amazing, but underneath my Spanx the truth exists. The reality is I, like most women, jiggle. I have had a muffin top since I came out of the womb, and chub rub is an ongoing concern. If most woman jiggle when they wiggle, why do we have to pretend otherwise? Why are all my pics from the top up? Why do I even feel compelled to wear the Spanx? My sister read a few chapters of my new manuscript, and said she didn’t like that I described the main character as having a belly.
“What’s wrong with having a belly? I mean the character’s still adorably cute,” I responded.
“I dunno. It just doesn’t sound attractive,” she replied.
“Can’t we just admit that we jiggle?” I asked genuinely.
“I will never admit that I jiggle,” she retorted, and I know for a fact that she does.
Like WTF. Why can’t we normalize how we are? In I Feel Pretty, I thought Amy Schumer was hot AF. Why can’t we all just be like Amy and feel pretty in our own skin? The woman legit had a hysterectomy and marched for Women’s Rights in the same week. Crap, now I’m convincing myself I don’t need Botox and implants. Confidence and vanity are so hard to keep in equilibrium. But I think looking good for yourself has to be distinct from looking good for other people or to fit preconceived notions of what’s beautiful. So while I want Botox for me to feel good about me, I worry that it’s really not for me at all. . .
Everyone’s spouse is an asshole, at least some of the time, even if people pretend otherwise. My own husband has his moments of being wonderful, but the man legit bought me a Squatty Potty for Christmas. The gift confused me for months, until I finally realized it was so I’d have another object to scrub his urine off of in our bathroom: the toilet, bathmat, and floor were clearly not enough. He is generally helpful with the children, which I gather from others is rare. But I mean he’s not perfect by any means, and neither am I.
On social media, I just post about making delicious banana bread with my offspring, and gardening with my hubby, but in reality we are both prone to irrational anger, and will not speak to each other for days on end before making up. Our arguments usually start with me saying, “I think you like watching football more than spending time with me.” To which he’ll respond, “No I don’t,” while continuing to watch football on the TV. But on social media, I just post adorable selfie after adorable selfie showing off how happy we are. On several of my live shots, you can actually hit the picture and hear me saying you better smile and pretend you are happy, or so help me God, or see him flip me the bird before smiling and saying cheese. And all those happily married couples coming across your feed barely have sex. They probably sleep on opposite sides of the bed most nights, each watching Netflix on their own electronic device. Also, can we just agree that there should be Netflix clubs? I would so join a Netflix club, where we discuss all the shows we fall asleep watching when we were supposed to be reading for our book club.
Me smiling as I tell my husband to cut the crap and stop ruining our adorable picture. . .
Having children is hard. Those adorable baby pics people post might try to cover the truth, but this shit is brutal. Yes, it is a privilege and an honor, but motherhood is also a never-ending chess game. Before I had kids, if someone left dirty dishes in the sink, I knew who did it. Now I have to scream and yell at multiple people before finding the culprit. People post their newborn pictures and your heart melts at how sweet and adorable babies are, but they don’t post the 3 a.m. feedings or the blowout poop that just hit them in the face when they changed a diaper. My Facebook pics of my adorably cute kids with our faces pressed together in blissful harmony are so deceptive. In reality, I haven’t slept in years, and no moment of this ten year adventure has been blissful. Someone is always fighting with someone else. And don’t get me started on people’s family pictures on vacation. They never post the real picture of little Suzy pummeling Goofy after she dropped her ice cream. Or of Tommy and Teddy kicking the shit out of each other while waiting on line at the Happiest Place on Earth. No, that’s not what we post. We only post the staged pictures of happiness. Newsflash every single parent I know who’s been to Disney has lost their shit at some point. Thank God they started serving alcohol at the Magic Kingdom, because no one was making it out alive when it was dry.
Why can’t we all admit it’s not all fun like we pretend it is on social media? In reality, having children is like trying to score a touchdown with little humans wrapped around your ankles. For every one step you take forward for yourself, they try to keep pulling you back, and for some weird reason that’s still not entirely clear to me, you will love every minute of it. If I didn’t have kids, every Facebook post I’d do would be of me sleeping uninterrupted to rub it in the face of all those people showing off their kids. And if you are scrolling social media while hiding in your car because your kids have taken over the house and are intimidated by how well-behaved Sally Cheesecake says her kids behave, know she’s full of shit. Everyone at some point wants to run away from their kids, even if on social media they pretend otherwise.
Being honest about ourselves and our emotions is okay. My children can be brutally honest sometimes. The other day when getting out of the pool, my daughter said, “Mommy, you are so big and I am so little.” Yes, I wanted to slap her. How dare she state the obvious? But I love that when she’s telling me I’m big, she doesn’t give it a negative connotation. Thinking big means bad is a learned behavior. She loves everything about me, muffin top and all. And there are days when I feel small that I envision myself through her eyes, and I feel tall again. She’ll also tell me she’s feeling sad thinking about my grandmother who passed recently, or when she’s feeling overwhelmed with a school lesson she’s having trouble learning.
She hasn’t learned yet that we can’t talk about mental health, and that we have to process our emotions into digestible doses and swallow them whole, hiding them from the world. When my dad died, I felt alone and some days were a struggle, but those aren’t things you post on social media. And when I did, people would be surprised. Those aren’t moments you share publicly, even though we should. Depression, anxiety, and mental health affect so many, but talking about those issues goes against the grain of pretending our lives and worlds are perfect. In some ways, I am so envious of my daughter’s authenticity. She’s unfiltered and raw, and very aware and honest about her emotional IQ. We need to all aspire to this. If I want her to learn to talk about her feelings, I have to model this behavior.
So, to recap, no matter what people post, no one actually looks like their selfies; most people jiggle when they wiggle; their husband and kids are probably sometimes assholes; they are probably sometimes assholes too; going to Disney with kids is not all sunshine and rainbows; and we have to stop filtering how we feel to fit into societal constructs. We can’t talk about body positivity and be ashamed of our bodies. We can’t talk about being confident while fixating on our imperfections. We can’t teach our kids to talk about their feelings if we are too scared to share our own. We can’t encourage honesty if we always seek to omit the truth. So, let’s try keeping it real occasionally, for our children and for ourselves. And yes I understand I have to take my own advice.