She’s Mother. It’s a phrase you’ve probably seen countless times on Twitter recently, typically describing a cishet female celebrity whose fans revere them as a deity, but who is more than likely just doing the bare minimum. The title’s got the same chaotic energy as screaming, crying, throwing up, but instead of funneling that energy into the ether, we have a figure to pin our emotions on. But how did we get here?
Obsessing over our favorite celebrities to the point of wanting them to adopt you is nothing new, and even though the social label of “Mother” is something that’s only gained more widespread cultural traction recently, the concept has earlier origins. The idea of “mothering” was first rooted in 1960s Black and Latinx drag culture, before it eventually seeped into alternative horror films a decade later. Into the ‘80s and ‘90s, the term permeated ballroom culture, made popular by cult documentaries like Paris Is Burning. Since then, we’ve become most familiar with the idea of “Mother” thanks to RuPaul’s Drag Race and Mother Ru, who’s built a global franchise around the notion that she’s mothering a new generation.
By the end of 2022, however, “Mother” had taken on a new life — or rather, new lives. The term is used so often by myriad fandoms and devotees that, now, different types are emerging, not unlike high school cliques. If thirsty fans and their proverbial Mothers took over the Mean Girls cafeteria, what would the map of the tables look like? And which archetypes are mothering the masses?
Table 1: The Gays’ Mother
The gays’ Mother is the equivalent of the theater kid who doesn’t shy away from attention or making themselves a total spectacle just for the sake of it. Think of them like the acting students who let everybody know that they’re auditioning for the lead role in the school musical, but not in an insufferable way, like Rachel Berry or Sharpay Evans. In other words, you want it for them just as they want it for them.
At this table sit stars like Sarah Michelle Gellar, Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Hannah Waddingham. Gaga has essentially devoted her life to being a stoic pillar for the gay community, going as far as to thank them in awards speeches like she knows the clip will make its way onto Twitter. Beyoncé’s Renaissance era is the ultimate homage to the community that came before her, and the tour is a safe space for queer men to scream repeatedly that they never expected her to play the next song live. On the other hand, Waddingham’s insane vocals and comedic chops on Ted Lasso was more than enough to send fans into a coma, but hosting the Eurovision Song Contest cemented her as a permanent, international Mother to the gays.
Table 2: The Lesbians’ Mother
If the gays’ mother is the grandiose musical lead, the lesbians’ Mother is the artsy creative: a bit more understated, but still commanding in a different way. She looks like a wet dream in a suit, maintaining a domme power dynamic that makes us all want to call her Daddy instead. She’s a master of her craft in a way that’s mesmerizing, she’s cool in a crisis, and after a while, you hang on her every word. She says jump, and you say, “How high?” You’d follow her off a cliff if you weren’t careful.
Lesbian icons Cate Blanchett, Lucy Liu, Jennifer Beals, Rachel Weisz, and Sarah Paulson are the bastions of this gay agenda, with each putting in their time when it comes to iconic queer roles on screen that so brilliantly capture different levels of LGBTQ+ experiences. While Blanchett fully embraces her lesbian icon status thanks to her cult classic roles in Carol and Tár, Weisz gives the girls what they really want in Dead Ringers by playing a pair of unhinged twins who want to both eat the rich and use their piles of money to give back to women. The hardcore girlies even have these characters tattooed on their bodies and spend hours upon hours making gag-worthy fan edits just in case they can get their attention. Nothing quite screams “gay rights” like that.
Table 3: The Mother’s Mother
Then, we have the mother’s Mother—the wholesome, lovable overachiever. These women are good vibes and act as a comfort blanket in a fast-paced world that many moms are just trying to keep up with.
Martha Stewart, Sandra Bullock, Oprah Winfrey, Angela Bassett, and Amy Adams are our mommy icons here, each having redeeming qualities that appeal to older and younger crowds (much like your nerdy friend who dazzled your mom every time they came over). Stewart bridged the gap between homely and cool when she linked up with BFF Snoop Dogg, while Bullock defies time by being a sickening goddess in everything she does. In other words, you know them, you love them, and you can count on them to make you (and your mom) feel at home.
No matter the table, these Mothers are all worth their weight in gold, each a vital part of the rapidly growing Mother ecosystem—even if they themselves don’t really understand why or how. They—and the art they continue to create—have raised us. It’s only right we honor these women in the way they always should have been.