It’s sad to say, but mom shaming is a real thing in today’s society.
As a working gal and busy mother of three, Abbie Fox knows a thing or two about the all-too real judgements that come with being a mom.
We see it everywhere in today’s culture: mom shaming for breastfeeding in public, for not breastfeeding at all, for buying foods with high fructose corn syrup, or for letting their toddler have a full-on meltdown in the middle of a grocery store.
Mom shaming is happening on the internet—to moms who don’t even know that they’re being shamed. And to moms whose intentions and actions are taken out of context and cruelly put on full blast without any insight into what actually might be happening.
I even heard a mommy-to-be talking about her own mom shaming experience in TJ Maxx the other day, after her mother-in-law had told her she “wasn’t actually a mom” if she had a c-section.
HOW has it come to this??
Mom shaming is adult-bullying at its finest. And it needs to stop.
Having been the target of mom shaming herself, Abbie knows what it feels like to be judged by others when you’re only trying to do your best.
“In this technology world where we spend tons of time on Facebook and in Mommy groups we find one major thing every day… Mom Shaming,” Fox writes on Facebook. “People roll their eyes and say it doesn’t happen anymore but it is alive and well, and it can be brutal. When I was a first time mom I would cry [over] things people said to me, and the main culprit were other moms.”
In an effort to shed light on the issue, Abbie turned to her passion of photography, and enlisted the help of some adorable subjects to start a conversation about mom shaming.
“I was shamed for a lot of things, especially the feeding part,” Fox shared with the parenting site, Motherly. She explained that when she was a first time mom to her oldest son Maverick, nursing seemed nearly impossible. For six weeks the family did everything they could to get him to latch properly, seeing doctors, nurses and specialists. Fox says she cried herself to sleep every night.
“I was being told that I wasn’t a good mother [unless] I could breastfeed him. And this was actually coming from people I thought were my friends.”
But the mom shaming didn’t stop there. Although she found more success breastfeeding her next child, Georgia, Fox says there was always something for people to pass judgement on.
“I also got shamed for allowing my kids to watch TV at a young age, I got shamed for being a working mom and then when I became a stay-at-home mom, just running this business [I] got shamed for that as well,” she says.
Like the rest of us mamas, Fox is only trying to do her best.
It was out of those mom shaming moments, that a viral creation was born.
Fox’s photography series, “Anti Mommy Shamers Unite” features all three of her kids, as well as several others their age, holding signs that feature just a few of the parenting methods she and some of her clients have taken heat for over the years—none of which elicit the need to call CPS, much less warrant the judgement of others.
These moms are simply doing what is right for their family in every season, the best way they know how. Because isn’t that how all parenting works? There’s no guidebook, no right or wrong way to do things. There’s only opinion. And that friends, should not be what defines our motherhood.
Ironically, after posting the series in an effort to combat mom shaming, Fox has been on the receiving end of even MORE mom shaming.
“I’ve actually been getting nasty comments, Facebook messages, and emails that I am promoting child abuse by having that picture,” Fox says about the photo of Maverick holding a letter board sign that reads, “My mom used the cry it out method for sleep training.”
And she’s not the only one. Several of her clients have received backlash as well in response to the signs their children held up for the project.
Shauntelle Yount was always told that co-sleeping was a terrible parenting method. But when it came to caring for her newborn baby, it was the parenting method that worked for their family.
“My son was 9 weeks early and had many problems. After he came home from the NICU I decided co-sleeping worked for the both of us,” Young told Motherly. “I stayed awake for days just to make sure he wasn’t going to stop breathing. Co-sleeping let us both get the rest we needed and if there was a problem I was right there to fix it. As mother’s we need to stop placing shame and start standing up for each other.”
Several of Fox’s clients were shamed for the way they gave birth. Others have faced criticism for their feeding methods.
“We are all doing our best to keep these little humans alive all while keeping our sanity,” Fox wrote in her Facebook post. “We all have our differences in parenting and need to realize that everyone is raised differently and have different values and things that are important to us.”
Moms: we are the only other people in the world who understand the nature of our jobs as mothers. Why is it that so many women have chosen to tear each other down during a time—a season of life—when we desperately need to be lifting each other up?
It’s no one else’s place to determine what types of parenting work best for your family and your circumstance. The only thing that matters is that our children are safe and they are cared for and most importantly, they are loved.
Keep doing your best mamas. Your babies are doing just fine.