Warning. The following may be upsetting. Reader discretion is advised.
Picture a pair of jeans, powder blue. The rise stretches higher and higher until the belly button is but a distant memory. The ankles taper to the shape of sugar cones. They are too short, and the socks show. The back pockets, well, they're big enough to warm a Clydesdale on a cold winter's morn.
Dun . . . dun . . .dun . . .
Urban Dictionary describes them as such: jeans highlighting the flat curvature of the 40+ buttocks... Extremely high waist, and always a crappy shade of blue or black.
You've probably seen the old Saturday Night Live skit. A group of middle-aged moms frolic about in their nightmare denim slings. They rub their jean-swaddled uteri while an announcer speaks:
Introducing Mom Jeans, exclusively at JCPenney. Mom Jeans fit mom just the way she likes it. She'll love the 9-inch zipper and casual front pleats. Cut generously to fit a mom's body.
A singer in the background croons, "Give it up, give it up, put on your mom jeans."
Mom jeans have been thrust back into our consciousness.
Jessica Simpson wore a pair of awkward high-waisted jeans that set off a frenzy of fat jokes this year. President Barack Obama donned some majorly dweebish denim while bike riding during his campaign. He struck again last week while throwing out the first pitch at the All-Star Game.
The blogosphere went nutso:
Dude, seriously: What's with the mom jeans?
A look at the video confirms they came thisclose to exposing sock when he simply walked across the field.
Those jeans WERE pretty awful. Michelle needs to get him to throw those hideous things away.
This type of jean is disturbingly unflattering, for sure. It should go back to 1992.
But are they really "mom" jeans?
While her husband may be devoid of clue, stylish Michelle Obama — the actual mom in this situation — would not be wrapped dead in a denim sack. Neither would mom Sarah Palin.
Supermodel Heidi Klum is pregnant with her fourth child. Sex goddess Angelina Jolie has, like, a trillion kids.
Are they frumpy? Would they dare ride the Jean Highway to Zipperville?
No. So let's assume, based on this scientific presentation of data, that not all moms are hopeless and gross with rears the size of sunrise. Why must we pick on them?
Are we predisposed to think our moms are totally tragic?
"I think I'm pretty cute, actually," said Kelley Simpson, a size 6 Pinellas County court reporter from St. Petersburg who makes beaded jewelry on the side. "But my kids kind of think I have 10 years left to live, and I'm 45."
One day, Simpson proudly modeled a handmade necklace in the kitchen. She asked her daughter, 11-year-old Hannah, what she thought.
"I think it looks really great, except for your mom jeans."
They're not mom jeans, Simpson insists. They're boot-cut, close-fitting, cute. She's had them for two years, not 20. The rise is reasonably high, but not terrifying.
"They don't show the crack of the butt, but I think they're adorable," she said. "If it's higher than they are comfortable with, it's an automatic mom jean."
Fashion is generational, she said. Most moms today are more style savvy than the Keds-clad parodies polluting the Internet.
But are they all? What of her own mother, now 65? What does she wear?
"Oh yeah, my mom wore mom jeans," she said. "She still does."