Dear New York Times,

Thank you so much for caring enough about me to weigh in with your opinion about my hair. It is just SO HARD to find a publication willing to tackle the tough issues, like making women feel like garbage about their hair choices. Without your insightful article I would have had no idea how ashamed women should feel of their postpartum bodies and changing hair because we live in a culture that is so supportive of new moms with no pressure on them to instantly return to their pre pregnancy selves. Without your help, I wouldn’t have known how important it is for moms to leave their hair long so we wouldn’t find ourselves “exposed” while in the repulsive state of recovering from pregnancy. 

When I first ran across your article, I thought maybe you had suggestions about what kind of hair might look chic, but still be practical to maintain. Help a sister out, New York Times. But no. This was a piece designed to shame women with newborns who decide to get a haircut you’ve universally decided “falls short of flattering.” Because there just isn’t enough mom judgement flying around the internet.

I feel as though you may not have breastfed, New York Times. Maybe I’m wrong, but I imagine that if you had ever gone through the Herculean effort of making milk from your body and then attempting to deliver that milk to a screaming, grabby child, then you might understand why a woman would be tempted to not also have to deal with hair hanging in that child’s face during the process. Have you ever had partially digested baby formula spit into your hair, New York Times? It doesn’t smell great, especially when your ability to drop everything and take a shower may be slightly impaired by the human you recently created. Has an infant ever grabbed your hair with the tenacity of a crocodile going into the death spiral? No? That’s so weird, because you gave wisdom to moms with such certainty that you knew exactly what was best for us when it seems you may not have considered A SINGLE PRACTICAL CONSIDERATION OF ACTUAL HUMAN MOMS.

If a mom wants to keep her hair long, good for her. If a mom wants to get her hair cut short, good for her. Why in the world is that something we as a society need to express an opinion about? How have you managed to take one of the most stressful and traumatic times for a mother and turn it into a beauty pageant? Go home, New York Times. You are drunk.

Can we acknowledge you said this haircut was something we’ve all likely seen at “suburban malls.” I would love to know how many moms of infants you know who are frequenting your local mall. Thanks for managing to combine all negative stereotypes about moms into one article:  We’re mindlessly wandering the mall in our unflattering “mom jeans” and our bad hair just hoping and praying the New York Times will lift us out of our hopeless condition. Did nobody editing or approving this article for publication have a moment of journalistic curiosity and wonder, “Why ARE these women cutting their hair? Could it be that short hair is helpful to moms in their daily activities? Could it be that they enjoy a new look and taking some control back when their bodies have felt so out of control? Have they reached a point of healthy acceptance that their lives have changed and it’s okay for their bodies to reflect that? You know, Guys. . . maybe this isn’t a problem that needs solving?” Apparently nobody wanted to explore that angle. Let’s stick with making women feel shamed for doing what works for them with their bodies. That never gets old. 

Let’s tell women they cut their hair because they “feel lousy about their bodies” but cutting their hair is a “big mistake.” Thanks for making every woman with Mom Hair feel self-conscious about her body no matter what her actual reasons were for getting a haircut. Women making decisions about their own hair in the wake of becoming moms are making big mistakes? I feel as though you are not aware of the ramifications of making ACTUAL “big mistakes” as a mother. This whole parenting gig may be a little more high stakes than you realize, but thanks for your heartfelt concern for my hair. If you really want us to get that “wild, youthful feeling back again” how about you quit offering unsolicited judgements about our appearance and instead come babysit. And feel free to wear your most expensive outfit and your salon fresh hair and we’ll see how that goes for you.

I love how adorable you tried to be at the end. You tried to spin it like this was about women’s mental health. You know what helps women’s mental health? If you stop judging our mental health by the state of our hair. I think my mental health would be vastly improved if publications like THE NEW YORK TIMES didn’t refer to a haircut they acknowledge many mothers have as “inescapably frumpy.” Suddenly you were like every obnoxious frenemy we’ve ever had who looked at us and said, “Oh honey, are you feeling okay?” when we ran into them at the grocery store without mascara on. Don’t be that guy, New York Times. Nobody likes that guy.

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Maralee Bradley

Maralee is a mom of six pretty incredible kids. Four were adopted (one internationally, three through foster care) and two were biological surprises. Prior to becoming parents, Maralee and her husband were houseparents at a children’s home and had the privilege of helping to raise 17 boys during their five year tenure. Maralee is passionate about caring for kids, foster parenting and adoption, making her family a fairly decent dinner every night, staying on top of the laundry, watching ridiculous documentaries and doing it all for God’s glory. Maralee can be heard on My Bridge Radio talking about motherhood and what won't fit in a 90 second radio segment ends up at www.amusingmaralee.com.

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