Peter Pam does not wear a feather in her cap, but on nights out she might sport a fedora. She does favor Peter Pan-style belted tunics—as they elongate the leg—and unless her gams have met the laser, she loves her tights. Whether she tends to Wendys Michaels and Johns in the nursery, battles corporate crocs at a desk, or fights societal Captain Hooks, one thing is clear: Peter Pam really doesn’t want to grow up.
We Peter Pams make the first-generation of hot moms, MILFS, and cougars. Congratulations and condolences to us. For the first time in modern history mainstream middle-age dresses Forever-21 and has a proclivity for behaving accordingly. Take, for example, the Facebook timeline. Peter Pams update our vanity avatars more often than we floss, alternating between a youthful headshot taken from above—always from above—and a peek at our latest ink. We channel our rock-star within on the dance floor, at the karaoke mic, and sometimes party a bit too much like it’s 1999. Make that 1989. Sun City has no idea what’s coming, but they better amp up their WiFi, add tattoo artist to their spas, and start training their DJs.
Once a vanity reserved for celebrities, now the illusion of forever (lifted, rejuvenated, deveined) young falls within reach of the masses. During their hot mom years our Grandmas wore modest dresses and stockings. Mom wore “mom-jeans” because that’s how jeans came—high in the waist and ample in the hips. The only women in America getting routine plastic surgery lived in Beverly Hills or could afford to. As kids we occasionally begged off of our mothers (and fathers) wardrobes, but they certainly didn’t beg off ours. Maybe—maybe—a classmate mentioned “your mom is pretty” but MILF? An unthinkable moniker, and for those who did think about it certainly not celebrated aloud. We called our friends’ parents and our parents’ friends Mr. and Mrs; The line between parent and child, teen and adult, and those who should and should not wear minidresses seemed obvious. When Dirty Dancing came out, we certainly hadn’t seen our parents doing anything remotely like it at auntie’s wedding.
I fear that Peter Pams—as we joust with standards of hardbodies, wrinkle-free foreheads, full manes of no-greys (and nary-a-hair-elsewhere)—created our own hawt purgatory, NeverNeverEVERLand. I foresee us clenching our hot-mom sashes and stilettos in arthritic joints, instead of gracefully handing them over to the next generation in exchange for Clark’s Wallabees and elastic-waist pants. I fear a dance-off at BlogHer 2060: The PeterPams vs. the new generation Lost Girls, indistinguishable from one another under the strobe lights, save for our hunched backs, special edition large-print badges, and for a few of us Spanks mistakenly worn over our Skinny Slacks ™.
Our grandmas couldn’t conceive of this NeverNeverEVER Land. Our moms fought too hard to be taken seriously to risk wearing pants that showed crack. Legs got shaved—maybe armpits—but if my crotch-height memories serve me correctly, our moms worried even less about their bikini lines than they did about the rubber swimcaps suctioned to their natural salt-and-pepper hairdos. While sometimes I revel in my Peter Pam rebellion of middle age, I also wonder how long I can keep it up. Instead of using our real life matriarchs as role models or adopting the Women’s Studies 101 ideals we once tormented our loved ones with around the dinner table, Peter Pam desperately searches for ways to look less and less MOM.
My Mom has always dressed and behaved beautifully and age-appropriately (at least in public and so far as I know). She exercises for good health, not for hard abs (which neither she nor any prior generation sought, nor even found attractive). Growing up, I never heard her complain about her body, nor lament its aging. I hope that we Peter Pams figure out how to marry our vanity with our aging bodies, and obsess less over how our bodies look and shift our focus on to gratitude for how well they (hopefully) still work. I hope we learn to share the spotlight and know when the time comes to sit in the audience and clap when Tinkerbell gets her first url. Most of all, I hope that we embrace the softness of our laps while our Wendys Michaels and Johns still want to sit in them.