Mom-shaming is a trend that has been on the rise. Honestly, it has always existed, but now, we have a name for it and know how unhealthy it is in our society. This is largely because of how social media brought it to light. Mom-shaming can cover a wide variety of topics, and it’s something based in judgment. But we don’t have to put up with it.
Let’s learn to recognize and stop mom-shaming when we see it and explore some ways to combat mom-shamers in our lives.
My Introduction to Mom-Shaming
As I was washing the dishes a few days ago, I had a lot on my mind. I was pondering why people judge others… I try not to do it myself, and sometimes my mind even forgets how harsh people can be.
Someone in my mom’s group on social media recently posted a video. I wasn’t even going to post the video here, but I decided that it’s worth it for you to listen to it. Check out the video HERE.
In summary, the woman in the video complains about new parents who are asking for specific recipes on specific dates for their meal train. She says that people have “Lost their ever-lovin’ minds”, and goes on to say that it’s not okay for new parents to ask for this. She calls them many names and says how she thinks people should do it different.
I thought the mom in my group who posted this video was asking if other mothers shared the same opinion as the woman in the video, so I shared my opinion. But one mother shut down all of our opinions with four words:
“This woman is toxic.”
What is Mom-Shaming?
Simply, mom-shaming is the act of putting other women down based on her choices regarding her children.
Mom Shaming Examples
Some common examples of mom-shaming include the following:
- you had a c-section? Are you too posh to push?
- you delivered vaginally? Ew, did you poop on your newborn baby?
- breast (milk) is best.
- ew, don’t breastfeed in public.
- don’t ask for help, that’s not socially appropriate.
- don’t dress like a slut, you’re a role-model for your children.
- don’t dress so prudish, you’re a role-model for your children.
- co-sleeping is dangerous.
- sticking your kid in a crib is going to mess them up. They need their parents.
- not cuddling your baby every second of the day will turn them into sociopaths.
- you haven’t lost the baby weight yet?
- You’re too skinny to be pregnant. Eat a hamburger.
- you’re sending your kids to public school? They won’t learn anything.
- you’re sending your kids to private school? They’re going to be spoiled, entitled brats.
- you’re homeschooling your kids? They’re going to be socially awkward, weird kids with no skills.
- your baby watches TV? They’re too young.
- your kid doesn’t watch TV? Oh, that’s weird.
- you’re not religious? Your kid is going to worship the devil.
- you let your boy play with dolls? He’s probably gay.
- you let your boy watch Frozen? He should be watching superhero movies like a man.
- you let your girl get her hair cut short? What a tomboy. Put her in a dress once in a while.
- you still give your older children money? You’re teaching them to always come to you for money and they’re never going to get any on their own.
I’m sure there’s about 50 more that I missed.
Hopefully you’re starting to see the mom-shaming in the video on social media above. Indeed, the woman spewing her hatred for this other couple is toxic, and she’s participating in mom-shaming.
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A Woman’s Right to Choose Her Own Motherhood
It’s HEALTHY to make choices and focus on what we need to, for ourselves.
Is it okay that people have different priorities and choose to focus on different things in their lives?
This is what feminism is all about.
Feminism is about a women’s right to choose. To choose her path to motherhood or not motherhood, or short hair or long hair, or body hair or no body hair, or children or no children, or breast or bottle, without being ridiculed and berated from others for her choices.
Our society has been so ingrained with the concept of ownership over women that even women often feel like they have the ownership and the right to tell other women what to do.
It’s time to STOP.
So who Mom-Shames the Most?
With ever more hatred coursing through the world today, it seems that women get the brunt of it, and a lot of times, it comes from other women. People often feel it’s fine, even normal to tell mothers what they should be doing.
We see headlines of celebrities and everyday women alike being verbally attacked for breastfeeding in public, for not breastfeeding, for choosing to not have children, for choosing to put our career on hold to have kids, for not covering up enough, for covering up too much… it doesn’t seem to matter what the issue actually is, people will criticize you for it.
It’s not just mothers who are shaming and judging each other. It’s mothers shaming non-mothers, and non-mothers shaming mothers.
Quick Crash Course on Why People Judge Each Other
The judgment and hatred the woman in video spewed about someone that she, presumably, didn’t know very well is quite astounding when you listen to it with judgment in mind. In our daily lives, hatred and judgment are normal and unsurprising to us. But perhaps they should be surprising.
Through school, life and societal culture train us to listen to an argument and form an opinion. We listen to the message and use our experience, prior knowledge, training, and background to put ourselves somewhere on the spectrum of opinion.
The things a person judges shows their own fears and insecurities.
The woman ranting in the video was probably was taught that it’s unacceptable to ask for what you want. You are supposed to express gratitude for whatever gifts people want to receive, and that’s that. This woman didn’t even consider the possibility that in other families, asking for exactly what you need is a sign of healthy relationships and a healthy self-esteem.
8 Stop Mom Shaming Quotes
Need more motivation to hold your tongue when you want to say something about another mom? Here are 8 anti-mom-shaming quotes:
There is no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.Jill Churchill
Shaming other mothers is not of the million ways to be a great mom.Brene Brown
Let’s encourage all moms to do the best they can, even if you don’t agree with them.MomLife
The Twitterverse was kind of mom-shaming me, which I’m not interested in. So I kept responding with the same thing: ‘Every child is different,’ which they are.Kirsten Bell
Motherhood is not a competition to see who has the smartest kids, the cleanest house, the healthiest dinners, the nicest clothes… Motherhood is your journey with your children.Hot Mom’s Club
I’m not a helicopter mom, tiger mom, free-range mom, soccer mom, crunchy mom, or attachment mom. I’m just a regular mom trying not to raise a-holes.Joelle Wisler
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.Eleanor Roosevelt
(Okay, that one’s not about mom-shaming, but it might as well be!)
I think we moms should pledge to never judge one another. We’re all desperately trying to do this mothering thing right.Lysa Terkeurst
6 Steps to Recognize and Stop Mom-Shaming
1. Listen to understand, not to reply
When other women talk about their children or their life choices and you start to feel a little fire start in your gut because you don’t agree with her, recognize that little fire.
Oftentimes, when we hear something we disagree with, we immediately stop listening and try to find a place that we can interrupt.
You can let the feeling be there, but don’t interject. Be in the moment. Don’t interrupt the other woman.
Continue to listen. Listen to understand.
Everyone deserves compassion. Are you going to be tearing another woman down, or are going to try to understand her?
2. Stop before you speak: Is it mom-shaming?
There have been posts on facebook from friends of mine that I cringed at reading. But I stopped myself before I commented. I don’t ever want to be someone to tear another woman down.
The healthy steps before commenting are: 1.) see if a woman is receptive to a conversation about the subject, then 2.) if she is receptive, provide information with scientific sources about said topic without making her feel guilty. Then back off and let her mull over the subject on her own.
If you don’t know how to successful do that, keep your mouth shut.
No one ever changed their mind from someone getting offended and berating them. If anything, people get more entrenched in the view they had before.
3. Respond from a place of love
As stated above it’s important to respond from a place of love. We live in a time of scientific conflicts, controversies, conspiracy theories, and world leaders who spread misinformation. It’s so difficult to know which way is up sometimes.
But one thing will ALWAYS remain true: love.
If you care about supporting women, supporting mothers, and being a source of positivity and uplift in your community, you won’t speak with an intention to scold or berate.
If you truly care about someone, respond from a place of compassion and a desire to truly help (only if the woman wants help).
4. Examine Your Own Insecurities, Fears, and Jealousies
Sometime when you have a chance, take out a journal and write down some of your opinions about mothers and parenting. After each one, take a hard look at your fears and see if anything starts to line up.
I bet you anything they will. The answer to why people judge others lies within our fears and insecurities. Just take a closer look.
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5. Be an Advocate and Supporter of Women Standing By Each Other
When you see someone mom-shaming, call them out. Gently.
Let them know that it’s not okay to shame other women based on their own point of view. There are many different ways to live this life, and there’s no single right path.
But making other women feel guilty is certainly not a great way of having a healthy, vibrant life with compassion and support.
When you judge someone, look at your own insecurities. You might be surprised at what you find.
Feminism is about a woman’s right to choose her own life instead of having her life chosen for her. Don’t be the woman who tries to choose for others.
Mom-shaming is NOT okay.
Have you experienced mom-shaming?
Drop me a comment below.