Childrearing

Mommy Shaming: The New American Past-Time

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controversial moms

The Olympics are coming this summer. Let me tell you that if “Mommy Shaming” were up for a medal, there would be some fierce competition. Just how critical can we be when it comes to moms and their choices? I’ve recently gotten some first-hand knowledge that proves what a serious issue this has become.

I was pretty shocked when the simple act of allowing my daughter to occasionally put on make-up for special events created an internet backlash that didn’t just take up mommy message boards, but landed a sidebar on the Yahoo homepage. While I never expected everyone to agree with me, because that’s just ridiculous, I had no idea that so many people would choose to make huge assumptions about me and my life based on a five-minute snapshot of my daughter and me. I was told that I’m a horrible parent who doesn’t know how to discipline my child and might “inviting” predators to assault her. Over lip gloss and blush.

But the more I thought about this surprising outrage, the more I realized that I was just a small blip on the radar for mommy shaming everywhere. I was lucky.

For whatever reason, our culture has decided that it’s perfectly acceptable to tear apart women for their parenting shortcomings. In fact, we seem to enjoy it.

The perfect example might be the story of “Tan Mom,” a New Jersey woman who was arrested for possibly endangering her daughter by taking her to the tanning bed. Patricia Krentcil‘s seriously bizarre appearance sparked a media frenzy, discussions of tanning addiction and of course, concern for Krentcil’s five-year-old daughter who turned up to school with severe sunburn.

But this story has been so much more than a mom who seems to have a severe addiction. It’s been a huge joke, appearing on SNL and prompting an insulting exchange with Snookie. Before we even know exactly what happened, we’ve all judged, tried and convicted this woman. She claims that her daughter got burnt playing out in the sun, and if you see the little girl’s red hair and pale complexion, it’s easy to assume that she reacts really strongly to a little sunlight.

“Tan Mom” and her legal issues are a glowing reminder that we still need to educate people on the dangers of skin cancer. It’s a reminder that addiction can take many forms. And it might even be a situation where this little girl needs a new home until her mother can come to terms with her mental health issues. But did it need to be a circus where we all point and laugh at the crazy lady?

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