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When Kim Kardashian decided to strip naked and showcase her derriere in all its oily glory on the cover of Paper magazine, it was easy to forget that she was a mother. As expected-and because it was great tabloid fodder – the image broke the internet and spurned hilarious memes.
But after the initial shock and bemusement subsided, critics decided it was all the confirmation needed that she was a 'terrible mom' who didn't care about the humiliating legacy she would leave her daughter and whose only talent was selling sex. But she remained unfazed by questions surrounding her parenting skills and the renewed indignation of her faceless detractors and just two months later she was back at it with another full- frontal editorial for Love magazine.
The conversation was, and is not, new territory. Beyoncé faces similar scrutiny whenever she takes to the stage to perform raunchy routines in revealing costumes and critics insisted that a mother had no business posing half-naked for a magazine when Madonna posed topless in raunchy NSFW shoot for Interview Magazine.
Justine Roberts, Mumsnet CEO said: "It's sad that mothers being talented, or career-oriented, or interested in sex, is considered revelatory and only something that we aspire to because of the behaviour of some random celebs."
But the audacious double standards hasn't stopped these female stars, and many celebrities like them, openly embracing their sexuality and refusing to let motherhood thwart their dream of becoming modern day icons. Roberts adds: "Rather like men, women continue to be fully rounded human beings despite having children; unlike men, we're often told that we shouldn't."
In 2011, Natalie Portman got slated when she described motherhood as "the most important role of [her] life" during her Oscars acceptance speech. For many, she was peddling an idealized and even archaic version of motherhood that her counterparts refused to associate themselves with.
Body language expert and psychologist Judi James says that thanks to loaded phrases "yummy mummy" and cringe worthy euphemisms like "milf", long gone are the days that mothers would gain approval for getting back into her size 10 jeans and turning up at the school gates looking fresh-faced and not smelling of baby sick. The influence of the female A-list diva: a high-status, powerful and dominant creature, cannot be disputed.
Celebrity mums have sent out a message that motherhood doesn't need to define you in terms of your image. "New maternal icons like Kim, Madonna and Beyoncé that bar has been raised to a point that is laughably high. Kim spends her pregnancies in f***-me shoes, plunging necklines and tight club wear. Beyonce looked stage-door perfect throughout," James notes. " Like Madonna the sexual, sensual look never missed a beat, so much so that you can only imagine they even gave birth in heels."
But has the bar actually raised or has it been lowered?
While some may argue that these stars are flying the flag for feminism by using their platform to reach out to those dark corners of the world where people still believe that motherhood and a career are entirely incompatible, it would be unfair to make suggest that the efforts of mother's that choose to walk the traditional path are redundant.
James insists that just as the feisty, career-pursuing, powerful and successful messages of motherhood should be embraced as an advance in terms of feminism and so should the idea that being a mother doesn't mean changes in terms of sexual appeal and image.
"Women have managed to combine the two in previous generations, only without feeling that the odd pair of trainers or make-up free face is somehow letting the side down."
Just like working mother's doing 9-5's, global sensations still face practical difficulties like trying to be home for bedtime or missing out on school events. But despite such sacrifices, they refuse to underplay their desire to be the best in their respective fields. In Adele's case, it renewed her drive.
"[Motherhood] makes me very proud of myself. When I became a parent, I felt like I was truly living. I had a purpose, where before I didn't."