The Rise of the “Yummy Mummy”: Popular Conservatism and the Neoliberal Maternal in Contemporary British Culture


Corresponding author: Jo Littler; e-mail:


This article analyzes the new social type of the “yummy mummy” in British culture, which both marks a substantial cultural shift—given that the Western Christian tradition has typically positioned mothers as asexual—and is simultaneously produced by increasing economic inequalities (which are particularly marked in relation to childcare). Drawing from a range of sources, particularly celebrity guidebooks and “hen lit” novels, this article argues that the yummy mummy functions to elide such social contexts and espouses a girlish, high-consuming maternal ideal as a site of hyperindividualized psychological “maturity.” “Successful” maternal femininity is articulated by rejecting “environmentally conscious” behavior and by rendering what are presented as excessive eco-delusions both abject and transparent. This tendency is indicative of the conservative nature of the phenomenon, which is forced to disavow wider structures of social, political, and ecological dependency in order for its conservative fantasy of autonomous, individualizing retreatism to be maintained.