Mom is super embarrassing, or worse

Posted on by DJames and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

A mom shops at her daughter’s favorite hip clothing store, Hollister, daughter is embarrassed. Only CNN knows better. They found a study from Temple University–“[M]oms are turning into ‘consumer doppelgangers’ of their children, shopping in teen stores so as to mimic the identities of their teenage daughters.”

OMFG, well now it’s time to get embarrassed. Here we go:

To start with, Raquel Alderman (mom, age 43) bought a couple of cute tank tops at 14-year-old Olivia’s (daughter) favorite store, Hollister. Daughter was, like, super embarrassed. Even took the clothing from her mom to make the transaction–can’t have Mom be seen doing this crap.

CNN (and Mom) have already asked us two misdirecting questions: Why are moms dressing like young teens, and is this just typical teenage embarrassment about mother?

However, Temple University is here to save us: professor Ayalla Ruvio says that “[Daughters are] in a stage where all they want to show is how independent they are and how they construct their own separate unique image that does not look like their mother. And then the mother goes out and copies them.”

Sure, I guess, but this is distracting me from the main character of the story–the mom.

A cougar fit enough to wear teen tank tops is great on its own merits, but Olivia’s response has given a clue what’s really going on with mamma Raquel. What does the mother want to be true? The obvious, for starters–damn it, I am cute enough to still dress this way! LOOK AT ME!

What does Olivia want to be true? I suspect she would prefer her mother to be secure in her own matured/developed identity.

You know, so mom doesn’t have to try to assume what mom thinks is her daughter’s identity. Olivia isn’t embarrassed by her mom, she’s frightened that someone who (should) be much more secure and mature is still (sort of wanting) to dress like a 14-year-old. Olivia needs you, Mom, much more than you need what the advertisements say you need. Mother should probably be the young daughter’s rock, not the other way around.

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54 Responses to Mom is super embarrassing, or worse

  1. Pastabagel says:

    I thought this was very interesting. But I wonder how the marital status of the mom plays into it. If the mom of a teenage girl is married, is she less likely to do this? If she’s divorced, is she more likely?

    • somethingclever says:

      Respectfully, I think the wife’s perception of the marriage is more important than her ~actual~ status.

      A divorced gal maybe overtly hunting whereas unhappily-married chick is looking for connection and doing questionable things to get that. EVERYTHING starts in the mind.

      Mom is feeling old, unwanted, and vicariously looks at daughter for support / affirmation (like OP pointed out).

      • somethingclever says:

        P.S. I think it is more accurate to say she looks at daughter for support and anyone else *please!* for affirmation.

        (Please forgive my spelling mistakes, past and [likely] future.)

        Admins – can you all enable live preview like Alone does on

  2. merope says:

    sometimes a cute tank top is just a cute tank top.

  3. barrkel says:

    The woman on the right in that photo looks like a domestic assault victim with a swollen and misshapen face. I suspect cosmetic surgery. It seems to be another case of narcissism.

    • Dan Dravot says:

      Yeah, that’s what I thought: Holy crap, she had a lot of work done. And it made her look like a circus freak.

      Yay, girl power! What a pathetic headcase.

    • lemmycaution says:

      The photo totally controls how I feel about the story. If she was a reasonable looking mom, I would cut her some slack. She just looks like a problem.

      • suicism says:

        But the woman in the photo is not Raquel Alderman (the woman mentioned in the story above). She’s Jennifer Gray, and she and her daughter are used in the CNN article as an example of sartorial independence:

        “Jennifer Gray and her daughter, Shaughnessy Chow-Domos, 18, own a boutique together in Vancouver, British Columbia, called Jennyfleur Loves… . Their store caters to a wide range of women, from age 13 to 70. Mothers and daughters alike can find trends they love because Gray and Chow-Domos purchase their favorite items for the store. The two also share clothes, including leather jackets and designer finds they buy to borrow from one another.

        But recognizing their age differences, both said they know what they can share and what to avoid. Each has their own style. Shopping together remains one of their favorite activities, and they don’t just look out for themselves, they said.”

  4. eqv says:

    ‘Jesus Saves, I Spend.’ Excellent. Note that in the picture (to my eyes, at least) the mother is wearing fairly mother-ish clothes– a ‘stylish’ mother with money, but a mother nonetheless. Right down to that gigantic piece of middle-class bling she’s got around her neck. After reading PB’s comment I’m tempted to say divorcee, but of course there is no way of knowing…

    Anyway. Most of the comments on the blog post were from other parents telling the mum, basically, that ‘your daughter is a spoiled brat.’ Which, yeah, probably. But I see it as the mum hoping to have some fun with her daughter through shopping together, as well as the convenience of being able to shop in the same store. A plain tank-top doesn’t exactly have ‘Jesus Saves, I Spend’ on it in huge letters. What’s important to the teenage girl isn’t the clothes, but the idea, the image of ‘shopping at Hollister’– that’s why she doesn’t want her mother to be doing it, because it fucks with the daughter’s perception of herself as rebellious/edgy/not her old, uncool mother etc. All of which is normal teen-think. I’m not sure I entirely buy the OP’s frame of this story as narcissistic mum in total denial about her age/everything else, but I agree that the daughter needs someone to form her idea of herself alongside/against– and that could be corrupted if the mother starts to behave like the daughter. I’ll leave the Freudian stuff to people who know more about it than me.

    • eqv says:

      Also, I think you’d have a genuinely fucked-up situation if the daughter reported that her mother tried to partake in a real teenage-girl activity with her mother, like talking about which Bieber clone they saw in the mall was the cutest.

  5. wisegirl says:

    I’m not so sure it is a case of Mothers trying to dress like their daughters but the other way around. The outfit the daughter is wearing is probably something similar to what the mother wore in the early 90’s during her grunge phase. I think generation X has not really changed their style all that much since they were in their early 20s. Except for the fact that they can now afford to shop at Sax rather than the GAP, I don’t really see much of a change in style among this age group.

    • AnonymousAtLarge says:

      By that note, the grunge phase clothes were not that far off of what the hippies and early punk rockers in the late 60s and early 70s wore.

      Rebellious clothes have not dramatically reinvented themselves since the 1960s.

      I went to american eagle outfitters in late spring/early summer – I picked up a pair of high waisted, buttoned wide leg flares. They look like something right out of a movie or album cover from the early 70s.

      The only novel change in teen attire is that a few years ago 80s stuff came back in style – for a few years citing anything from the 80s was radically uncool and I suspect that is because the 80s were too close /recent for it to be novel.

      The reason kids aren’t getting more creative and rebellious is because there is nothing left to rebel against. There are no families, religion is a joke by most free thinking people, I mean, the only thing left to rebel against is a culture of disenfranchised fragmented individuals who try to act like teenagers in their 40s due to a lack of having anything else.

    • Fifi says:

      I suspect more women, having been teenage girls themselves, understand the “OMG my mom is so embarrassing” phase in a way that a man doesn’t since there’s a good chance we went through it. Those of us who grew up enough (and out of that phase) to see our mom’s as people and appreciate them as individuals tend to look back and cringe at this phase. (I personally felt it necessary to apologize to my mother once I’d grown up – not that she needed or expected it, she understood it was a phase.) The dynamic between daughters and mothers tends to be quite different than it is for boys and their fathers (and obviously not everyone has the same mother-daughter relationship). It’s interesting that some men posting here seem to be making it all about who they find attractive and how they think women should look/dress according to their desires…now that’s making something that has nothing to do with them all about them and their desires!

  6. Fifi says:

    Eh, this sounds like the usual and very normal (and not new at all) kind of teenage girl “oh my god you’re so embarrassing mom, don’t touch my stuff” that’s usually combined with borrowing/taking over anything nice out of mom’s closet. The one looking for an identity here is the teenage girl (which is normal). Also, mom caving to her teenage daughter’s embarrassment and changing how she dresses for her daughter’s approval would actually be the “needy” response, not the mom just continuing to dress how she always has.

    • ThomasR says:

      Well, the article does seem to suggest that this behavior (buying clothes at Hollister) is a recent change for the mother, so “continuing to dress how she always has” would not include shopping at teenager clothing stores.

      I agree that this mother-daughter relationship is not necessarily anything unusual. But, it could also be exactly as DJames writes. There’s not really enough information to know.

    • AnonymousAtLarge says:


  7. AnonymousAtLarge says:

    The mom only picked up logo-less tank tops from the store. Big deal.

    It’s not like she’s walking around with booty shorts and a t-shirt that says “spoiled brat” on it, like her obnoxious daughter to the left.

    This is going to be a case where most of the females are going to be like “big deal, daughter sounds lik e a brat” whereas males will side with the overractive interpretation illicted by the daughter (omg old ladies should not try to immate young ones, halp!!! meanwhile a 55 year old dude trying to bang a 21 year old is WINNING and not at all a case of narcissism done gone wild)

    • DJames says:

      Heh, yes.

      When it comes to narcissistic 55-year-olds banging 21-year-olds (whatever the gender of the elder and younger), all the illustrative pictures from Google Image search seemed distracting from the post’s thesis.

  8. Fifi says:

    Nah, the article talks about another mother who lost weight and changed her shopping habits. The “Hollister mom” was just in the store with her kid and picked up a tanktop (it doesn’t sound like wearing tanktops was some radical fashion shift for the Hollister mom). The problem is that the CNN article isn’t talking about individual relationships but generalizing (and, as you say, there’s not really enough information to really know what the individual relationships are). Girls around this age are just really coming into their own sexuality and part of the discomfort is when mom is sexy in any way (and for many a teenage girl it is in ANY way). OMG, old people having sex…ooooooo gross. It’s also the age where teenagers just generally don’t want to know that their parents (mom or dad) have, like or think about sex in any way shape or form. Now, if mom was trying to be all flirty with their kid’s friends, that would be a real crossing of the line (and a not uncommon one, there’s much teenage embarrassment to be had from pervy fathers too, which isn’t something new or uncommon either).

    I think the question here is more “what does the PO blog poster want to be true?” since, like you say, there’s not really enough information to know. Give the 14 year old another couple of years and she’ll be raiding mom’s closet quite happily. Seriously, letting the social and identity anxieties of teenagers (be they male or female) determine adult behavior is giving them far too much power. I can guarantee you that teenage girls of this age can be just as embarrassed by an “unhip” mom that wears unfashionable clothes for just how unfashionable they are (though that makes a much less “sexy” blog post or CNN article). This is the “OMG, my parents are sooooo uncool and embarrassing” phase for a lot of kids. The big fail here is thinking that identity is all about clothes and surfaces (not that that’s particularly unusual at this phase either) – however nobody seems to be even questioning this because, hey, that wouldn’t be nearly as “sexy” or superficial media story.

    • CubaLibre says:

      “Girls around this age are just really coming into their own sexuality and part of the discomfort is when mom is sexy in any way (and for many a teenage girl it is in ANY way). OMG, old people having sex…ooooooo gross. It’s also the age where teenagers just generally don’t want to know that their parents (mom or dad) have, like or think about sex in any way shape or form.”

      Don’t you think they are perfectly justified in thinking this way? Teenagers struggle desperately with their sexual identity. Parents at this point do their best work as a reference, not a role model. When I’m trying to figure out whether I like penises or vaginas, the last thing I want to think about is mom getting all sexied up for dad and the two of them giggling all the way to the bedroom. In fact, I’d say it was mom and dad’s duty to keep that image as much as possible out of their kid’s mind. She’s got enough to think about.

      Insisting, instead, that “I am an individual and a sexual being,” and therefore your kid just has to deal with it, is? Narcissism.

      Not that this has much to do with Hollister tank tops. Kids also overreact to things, and it’s a good idea to train them against that impulse.

      • Fifi says:

        Cuba – Oh, I definitely agree there’s a balance to be had and I agree that “fuck the kid, it’s all about me” is narcissistic (it’s just not what I see “Hollister mom” doing). On the other hand, there’s no need to feed a kid’s rather developmentally normalish teenage narcissism either. My main point was that there’s a general “OMG my parents are sooooo embarrassing” that goes on at this age for a lot of kids about anything (well, unless their parents are pretty cool and raised pretty cool kids who have enough of a secure sense of self as separate beings – so see their parents as separate beings). A mom can be just as embarrassing to their daughter if they’re a church-going, “mom jeans” unsexy frump. My friends with unsexy moms weren’t any less embarrassed by their moms at this age (they were just embarrassed by their mom’s “mom jeans” instead).

        I say this as a former teenage girl ;-) It takes a while to see your mom as a person and not a reflection or extension of yourself – this is part of the dividing and maturing process.

        All that said, there are obviously both fathers and mothers that are really embarrassing for good reasons and genuinely sexually creepy. Creepy flirty dad and creepy flirty mom who try to be sexy with their teenage kid’s friends are both crossing very real lines and being highly inappropriate (not to mention pedophiliac) but that’s a bit different than the usual “OMG, mom you’re sooooo embarrassing, you must now stop wearing tank tops because I now wear them”.

        • AnonymousAtLarge says:

          Creepy flirty dad. That’s a good one.

          Creepy flirty dad is unfortunately very common, creepy flirty mom is rare and usually only found in psychiatric cases.

          • Fifi says:

            Well any parent who is hitting on their kid’s teenage friends has some psychological issues and doesn’t understand (or more to the point, doesn’t respect) appropriate boundaries or adult responsibility. That’s an entirely different topic than teen-girl “OMG my mom is sooooo embarrassing” because it’s “OMG my parent is sooooo creepy” – the first is a phase most girls grow out of pretty quickly, the second one isn’t and dad (or mom) is likely to remain creepy. (Plus the second is really about adult boundary issues, which are likely to create damaging boundary issues for the child, while the first is about a girl trying to differentiate from a mother she probably totally identified with and idolized six months ago).

        • DJames says:

          Creepy flirty dad and creepy flirty mom who try to be sexy with their teenage kid’s friends are both crossing very real lines and being highly inappropriate (not to mention pedophiliac) but that’s a bit different than the usual “OMG, mom you’re sooooo embarrassing, you must now stop wearing tank tops because I now wear them”.

          Yes. This was the difference I’d hoped to highlight. If I could even more vastly generalize than the original post, I’d say it’s somewhat culturally rare (here and elsewhere) to find middle-aged adults specifically aiming to mimic the mores/look of teens.

          • Fifi says:

            Ah, I didn’t really get that from your post. For instance, you use the term “cougar”, which means a middle aged woman that sleeps with younger men (she may or may not be a mother, you don’t have to have children to be a cougar, you just have to be older than the men, not teenagers generally speak, you date or sleep with – or marry). A “cougar” isn’t just a middle aged woman, she’s very specifically one that sleeps with younger men. Are you sure you didn’t mean MILF when you used “cougar”? (A “mother I’d like to fuck”…which is pretty self explanatory and isn’t necessarily a middle aged woman since it’s often applied to younger mothers too.) If we’re going to use categorizations that men created (and both these categories were created by men, even if some women have come to embrace “cougar”) that revolve around male sexual fantasies, let’s at least get our objectification right ;-)

          • Fifi says:

            It’s all a bit of a fabricated tempest in a teapot really. And, if the issue is about mom’s being inappropriately needy with their children, a dowdy mom is just as likely to inappropriately lean on her daughter (or son) and use them as a confident or support in what’s referred to as an emotionally incestuous way (which isn’t necessarily sexual, even if it does involve inappropriate boundary setting). It doesn’t really have anything to do with clothes, people just like to get outraged and critical about what girls and women wear (and it’s really “sexy” when it’s about “sexy” clothes). It’s interesting how quickly some men jumped in to critique the mom in a “would I do her?” way or started musing about whether she was married or divorced.

  9. Fifi says:

    Just to say, if you’re actually talking about “cougars” and whether you personally think middle aged women you consider hot should wear tank tops then we’ve wandered into territory that’s really pretty far from the teen girl/mom “OMG, my mom is embarrassing me while shopping by being my mom!” territory and, as they say, trying to deconstruct female relationships from a male perspective (one that’s about how guys want girls and their moms to dress, not about issues between a girl and her mom). Or were you trying to deconstruct the media construct and general much ado about nothing in your post? You seem a bit between the two to me (but, hey, that may be partly because as a woman and daughter I my perspective on mother/daughter relationships is from a female perspective…though you could be a woman for all I know, it just seems like quite a male take on it all to me.)

  10. suicism says:

    This article is misleading with respect to the photography above. CNN gave the names and professions of the two women featured (Jennifer Gray, and her daughter, Shaughnessy Chow-Domos, 18, co-owners of a clothing boutique in Vancouver), and used them as an example of mothers and daughters who recognize their age-differences:

    “Their store caters to a wide range of women, from age 13 to 70. Mothers and daughters alike can find trends they love because Gray and Chow-Domos purchase their favorite items for the store. ”

    If I read the article above and hadn’t clicked over to the CNN piece, I’d have assumed the two above were the women in the OP’s article. Given that the commentors have said that the picture influences their read on the story, it couldn’t hurt to post a clarification.

    Also, the mother would be embarrasing if she shopped at Talbot’s. She would be embarrassing if she covered herself in a sheet and never left the house. She would be embarrassing if she wore only Ann Taylor. She’s the mother of a teenage girl. To teenagers, mothers are embarrassingly solely by virtue of being mothers. I do think there is a potentially valuable article here somewhere, but the fact that “mother is embarrassing” is a red herring.

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