Daily Picture Show

Thanks, Mom

As we all know, Mother's Day is this Sunday. And the best way to celebrate our mothers, we decided, is to dig up all those ridiculous things they made us wear as kids. We gathered photos from NPR employees — including on-air personalities Bob Boilen and Liane Hansen, and an array of good-humored Web staff.

The evidence points to one empirical fact: Moms are almost unanimously convinced that matching outfits, hand-me-downs, big glasses and bad haircuts are a great idea. And we're convinced that, beneath their loving exteriors, moms just love embarrassing us. Here are a few of our, well, not-so-proud moments.

  • Vikki Valentine, supervising editor, Science Desk: My mother made me wear these rainbow-framed glasses – I wore them from third grade through eighth grade. And was teased relentlessly for them.  It never occurred to me or my mother that getting more normal glasses might cut back the teasing. Of course, now I look at those glasses and think, oh my god, how adorable they are! And those oth...
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    Vikki Valentine, supervising editor, Science Desk: My mother made me wear these rainbow-framed glasses – I wore them from third grade through eighth grade. And was teased relentlessly for them. It never occurred to me or my mother that getting more normal glasses might cut back the teasing. Of course, now I look at those glasses and think, oh my god, how adorable they are! And those other kids were just little gutter punks.
  • Liane Hansen, Host, Weekend Edition Sunday, was one of many victims of perm-loving mothers, as shown in her second-grade portrait. But it's obvious why her mom loved it: Look how cute she is!
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    Liane Hansen, Host, Weekend Edition Sunday, was one of many victims of perm-loving mothers, as shown in her second-grade portrait. But it's obvious why her mom loved it: Look how cute she is!
  • Trey Graham, editor, Digital Media Arts Desk: My uncle was a portrait photographer, and for a few years when I was little, my mom worked at a department store that had a specialty in fun, fashion-forward kids' outfits. Apparently the bug bit her, and apparently the illness lasted at least until wide-collared, zip-front plush velour rugby shirts became all the rage. For roughly 36 seconds...
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    Trey Graham, editor, Digital Media Arts Desk: My uncle was a portrait photographer, and for a few years when I was little, my mom worked at a department store that had a specialty in fun, fashion-forward kids' outfits. Apparently the bug bit her, and apparently the illness lasted at least until wide-collared, zip-front plush velour rugby shirts became all the rage. For roughly 36 seconds. In 1978.
  • Mitch Praver, Executive Vice President & COO:  I'm learning how to rollerskate at about three or four years of age.  My mother, Sally, actually sent me outside with a pillow tied to my rear end!  It's embarassing in hindsight but probably didn't affect me much at the time. Check out the cuffs on those hand-me-downs — from someone older and certainly taller than I was.
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    Mitch Praver, Executive Vice President & COO: I'm learning how to rollerskate at about three or four years of age. My mother, Sally, actually sent me outside with a pillow tied to my rear end! It's embarassing in hindsight but probably didn't affect me much at the time. Check out the cuffs on those hand-me-downs — from someone older and certainly taller than I was.
  • Alyson Hurt, graphics designer, Digital Media:  Where's Waldo? My mom had four kids, and when we were younger she'd dress us all alike so she could find us in crowds. This photo is circa 1992 at the Alamo in San Antonio. From left: Ashley, Alyson, Ross and Ryan.
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    Alyson Hurt, graphics designer, Digital Media: Where's Waldo? My mom had four kids, and when we were younger she'd dress us all alike so she could find us in crowds. This photo is circa 1992 at the Alamo in San Antonio. From left: Ashley, Alyson, Ross and Ryan.
  • Robin Hilton, producer, Music: I'm the littlest one.  My mother obviously bought a roll of that turquoise blue material and got several matching suits out of it — for me, herself and my brother.
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    Robin Hilton, producer, Music: I'm the littlest one. My mother obviously bought a roll of that turquoise blue material and got several matching suits out of it — for me, herself and my brother.
  • Bob Boilen, producer, Music: What can I say; my mom liked to play dress-up and I guess I was her doll. I don't remember this day or how those shorts got such a perfect crease. I do know that to this day I'm still never far from a turntable (see left side of photo).
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    Bob Boilen, producer, Music: What can I say; my mom liked to play dress-up and I guess I was her doll. I don't remember this day or how those shorts got such a perfect crease. I do know that to this day I'm still never far from a turntable (see left side of photo).
  • David Gilkey, photographer, Multimedia: I now bring extra clothes with me whenever wearing a suit so I can change as soon as possible. The long-term psychological damage, despite my mother's best efforts to dress me, is that I never wear turtlenecks!
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    David Gilkey, photographer, Multimedia: I now bring extra clothes with me whenever wearing a suit so I can change as soon as possible. The long-term psychological damage, despite my mother's best efforts to dress me, is that I never wear turtlenecks!
  • Becky Lettenberger, assistant multimedia trainer: Looking back now I don't feel embarrassed but incredibly awed that my mom managed to get three kids out the door and to school on time every morning, even if they were wearing their favorite sweat shirt and sweat pants to Picture Day.
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    Becky Lettenberger, assistant multimedia trainer: Looking back now I don't feel embarrassed but incredibly awed that my mom managed to get three kids out the door and to school on time every morning, even if they were wearing their favorite sweat shirt and sweat pants to Picture Day.
  • Heather Murphy, producer, Multimedia: When I was around 3, my mother decided I was going to win the Cheerios poster-child contest. First she cut my hair (which made me look like a boy) and then she had me wander around the yard, eating Cheerios out of the box for hours on end. I ate so many Cheerios that month that I could barely fit into my rainbow overalls. Needless to say, I didn't wi...
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    Heather Murphy, producer, Multimedia: When I was around 3, my mother decided I was going to win the Cheerios poster-child contest. First she cut my hair (which made me look like a boy) and then she had me wander around the yard, eating Cheerios out of the box for hours on end. I ate so many Cheerios that month that I could barely fit into my rainbow overalls. Needless to say, I didn't win the contest.
  • Laura Soto-Barra, senior librarian: My mother was a Shirley Temple fan and she wanted her daughter to have curly hair. For my first Communion she took me to a hair salon to perm my hair! It was a very painful experience ... I cried the [whole] time.  My mom was very happy and excited that I was going to look so beautiful in my white, long dress and veil — if I only were blond like Shirley!
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    Laura Soto-Barra, senior librarian: My mother was a Shirley Temple fan and she wanted her daughter to have curly hair. For my first Communion she took me to a hair salon to perm my hair! It was a very painful experience ... I cried the [whole] time. My mom was very happy and excited that I was going to look so beautiful in my white, long dress and veil — if I only were blond like Shirley!
  • Coburn Dukehart, editor, Photo and Multimedia: It was Backwards Day at my elementary school, and my mother clearly took it to the extreme! She dressed my sister and me (left) in matching mismatched outfits, right down to the hiked-up pant leg and one-sided ponytail. I'm pretty sure we were the only kids at school that so fully embraced the theme.
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    Coburn Dukehart, editor, Photo and Multimedia: It was Backwards Day at my elementary school, and my mother clearly took it to the extreme! She dressed my sister and me (left) in matching mismatched outfits, right down to the hiked-up pant leg and one-sided ponytail. I'm pretty sure we were the only kids at school that so fully embraced the theme.
  • Claire O'Neill, production assistant, Multimedia: At the time, I wasn't old enough to be embarrassed by this ensemble.  But it was one of many unfortunate hand-me-downs that defined my childhood. As we got older, the worst mistake my mother made was allowing us to dress ourselves, back when my understanding of "matching" meant plaid with more plaid.
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    Claire O'Neill, production assistant, Multimedia: At the time, I wasn't old enough to be embarrassed by this ensemble. But it was one of many unfortunate hand-me-downs that defined my childhood. As we got older, the worst mistake my mother made was allowing us to dress ourselves, back when my understanding of "matching" meant plaid with more plaid.
  • Pamela Dorsey, manager, Human Resources: It's me, Pam ... not one of the Golden Girls! In 1970, when this picture was taken, hot pants and wigs were in. On this particular night, we were watching my aunt get dressed to go to a party. ... I wanted so badly to wear [her] wig and be grown up. ... Look how happy I am to have it on!
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    Pamela Dorsey, manager, Human Resources: It's me, Pam ... not one of the Golden Girls! In 1970, when this picture was taken, hot pants and wigs were in. On this particular night, we were watching my aunt get dressed to go to a party. ... I wanted so badly to wear [her] wig and be grown up. ... Look how happy I am to have it on!
  • Sarah Handel, associate editor, Talk of the Nation: This is my sister, Anne, and me at Disneyland in the '80s.  It's embarrassing on a number of levels – first and foremost, our mom made us wear matching sun hats so my parents could keep track of us.  A goat at a petting zoo later ate half of Anne's red flowers.  Secondly, I'm totally wearing a muscle shirt.  And third, Anne's got...
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    Sarah Handel, associate editor, Talk of the Nation: This is my sister, Anne, and me at Disneyland in the '80s. It's embarrassing on a number of levels – first and foremost, our mom made us wear matching sun hats so my parents could keep track of us. A goat at a petting zoo later ate half of Anne's red flowers. Secondly, I'm totally wearing a muscle shirt. And third, Anne's got on a sunsuit, a one-piece contraption with that little tanklike top, elastic at the waist, and short shorts banded by more elastic.
  • Keith Jenkins, senior supervising producer, Multimedia: Mario Powlis (my uncle and godfather), me and Dannetta Black (my godmother) at my christening at the Church of St. Augustine, in the Bronx, N.Y., 1957.  Photo by Warren B. Jenkins
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    Keith Jenkins, senior supervising producer, Multimedia: Mario Powlis (my uncle and godfather), me and Dannetta Black (my godmother) at my christening at the Church of St. Augustine, in the Bronx, N.Y., 1957. Photo by Warren B. Jenkins
    my dad
  • David Wright, senior interactive designer: I'm not sure what kids' swimwear fashion was like in 1982, but I have to think my mom had more options than to dress me in this striped Speedo.
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    David Wright, senior interactive designer: I'm not sure what kids' swimwear fashion was like in 1982, but I have to think my mom had more options than to dress me in this striped Speedo.
  • Erin Killian, web producer, seems to be having a lot less fun than her mother in this newspaper clipping from her hometown.
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    Erin Killian, web producer, seems to be having a lot less fun than her mother in this newspaper clipping from her hometown.

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OK, so we've sufficiently embarrassed ourselves (as if it weren't bad enough the first time). Now we want to see you! Upload your photos and mom stories to our Flickr pool and tag it "lookingood"! And remember to thank your mom for making you look so good. Happy Mother's Day!

Also worth checking out:
Ten Ways Real Moms Are Much Better Than TV Moms
Mom Rap: 5 Rhymes For Your Favorite Girl
NPR Librarians' Fashion Show

By Claire O'Neill

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