Haters. Mommy shamers. Invisible critics in the air, freely spewing unwanted advice, venom and half-truths. One of the unmistakable downsides to the connected universe we all live in today. In the "good old days," all moms had to worry about was a raised eyebrow and a whispered criticism behind a soft, well-manicured hand from someone with nothing but time to concern themselves with others' business.
Today if you choose to tweet, post to Facebook or otherwise engage in internet social media, you are somehow signing yourself up for retaliatory tactics from strangers about how you do everything from part your hair to hold your baby. You will be a menace to society for the most frivolous of things, according to some, and a hero for the same trivial matters. People align themselves on unknown and undesignated teams, and cheer or jeer furiously for their supposed mascots.
People with nothing but the desire to share a little of their lives and be connected with the wider world are reduced to rubble over whether they should be going out without their baby at 5 weeks postpartum, or whether they should use a particular juice with their preschooler, or shop at a certain business. It's beyond ridiculous and we should not allow these haters, shamers, vindictive little people to run us into obscurity, and away from the worldwide web.
So here are 15 ways to silence mommy-shamers like a boss:
15 Laugh Them Off
Singer and celebrity mom, Pink, posted this innocuous pic to her instagram and got belted with judgement and even hate. Don't see her obvious sin? Here it is. She is drinking decaf coffee, which she microwaved and dared to sit on the floor awaiting the steamy goodness. Stone her! She's a witch! What a terrible pregnant woman! Scratching your head yet? Well, here's what the haters hit her up with.
She is sitting in front of an operating microwave. Clearly that means her unborn child will be born radioactive. And, YIKES! She is drinking coffee, decaf or otherwise. How dare she drink something not specifically baby-nutritious like milk, or 100 percent organic juice, without corn syrup of course! Or dyes! Coffee! Yep, that's the hubbub. How'd Pink handle the hailstorm of criticism? She laughed it off. She posted a link to an article discussing the whole situation, and then posted, "This was a really good laugh. Enjoy over a cup of coffee!" Perfect reply.
14 Resort To Sarcasm
When former Hills star, Kristin Cavallari and wife to Bears quarterback Jay Cutler posted family pics of her sons and the couple at the beach, she got deluged with hate over how thin some people thought her children looked. She was accused of her children being malnourished on her watch, a rather serious charge to fling about. Personally, I feel her pain at such judgement. I was a very thin child, as was my mother, and now my 10-year-old daughter is very thin as well. It's not something due to not being fed well, or even a body type we endorse; it is just who we are at stages in our lives.
Trust me; she'll fill out like mom, eventually. For me it took a couple kids to start adding some pounds, and then a shift in metabolism due to midlife hormones. Give her time, but spare your criticism. Kristin handled the critics with aplomb and sarcasm, an especially nice combo when she responded, "Yep, I starve my children. Just blocked the most people I've ever blocked in my entire life. Happy 4th hahaha."
13 Just Ignore
See how Reese Witherspoon and her adorable kids look shamed and depressed? No? Of course not, because Reese has been mommy shamed online for some of the dumbest reasons known even in the twitterverse. And how did she cope with her haters? Pretty much by how she looks in the photo, by ignoring them and living her happy life with her kids and family. A good lesson for us all! Here's her alleged initial sin as a mommy. She posted a pic of a plate of breakfast she was to serve her younger set. Cinnamon rolls and (gasp!) an apple slice, arranged on the plate to resemble a happy little face. What a terrible mother.
Reese's tactics of just ignoring the shamers seems the all around best strategy - think about the time and energy she's saving by not even engaging, versus the time and energy the haters are putting into their criticism...
12 Limit What You Want World To See
Another approach to handling mommy shaming is to limit how much material you give them to work with in the first place. For instance, singer Adele has dealt with her share of haters, and being pregnant or a new mom hasn't softened the venom any. Her approach is a simple one we can all replicate in our lives. She just doesn't live much in the social media world. She has a fairly limited amount of posts on Twitter, and she quit her account for awhile a few years back. She states she does indeed write her own tweets, but she doesn't post them until her management team reviews her posts. By running her posts past her people, she is limiting what she allows out there, and how much shaming she can actually "invite." Other celebs have quit social media accounts either permanently or temporarily. For instance comedian Louis CK has quit Twitter, reasoning that it just didn't make him feel good. That is a good rule for us all; if it brings us more grief than joy, why bother?
11 Be Anonymous
Adele recently admitted to doing something else that can help those who are dealing with online haters; have an anonymous account. During a show in Brisbane Australia earlier this year, the singer admitted to having a secret account that her management didn't yet know about. "I’m not allowed access to my own Twitter because I’m quite mouthy and I say the wrong thing a lot of the time. So they took that privilege away from me.” Thus, she created a safe space where she can tweet without worries or damage to her image or feelings. Perhaps that should inspire us to have an account where we can be free to express ourselves without fear of reprisal. Not so we can act irresponsibly or hide behind anonymity to be hateful or rude, however. If we want to post thoughts, good news or have a place to interact in general in the social mediasphere, then perhaps anonymously is a way that can be safe and happy, and free of trolls.
10 Troll The Trolls
Chrissy Teigen, wife of singer John Legend, and mom to their daughter, Luna, went after the ugly-spirited posters who criticized Kristin Cavallari for her "skinny" sons and obvious malpractice in parenting. Teigen tweeted:
Indeed, who would? Apparently there are plenty of mean people out there who take aim at strangers and try to annihilate them spiritually, just for sport. One way to fight them is to stand up for others such as Chrissy did for Kristin. Strength in numbers is one option.
Teigen has had her fair share of mommy-shaming - and each time, she comes out handling it like a pro. Whether she calls trolls out on their BS, or gets ahead of it before people can even start the shaming; but perhaps most amazing is her husband's support in his willingness to take on the shaming alongside Chrissy and share the burden of being constantly criticized.
9 Go Expert
Jana Kramer, actress of One Tree Hill fame, and country music singer became a bigger star when she competed on season 23 of Dancing with the Stars. Unfortunately, she also became a bigger target. Kramer's offense that brought down the wrath of the internet gods upon her was posting a pic of a pile of baby food jars. No, they weren't gross and old, and crawling with ants. They weren't expired or laced with ant poison. They were simply store bought. The horror! She was chided, ridiculed and slammed for not making her own baby food.
It's amazing that people who have the time to do everything organically, by hand and up to the most exacting standards have the time to be petty little pains in the posterior, too. Multitaskers extreme! Kramer fired back saying, "Unless you are Jolie’s doctor, her father, or her mom, do NOT tell me how to raise my child, or how to feed her. Sincerely, Jolie’s MOM.” Love her response and it has a great idea within it. Use your pediatrician, clergyman, or psychotherapist as your buffer. My doctor says it's fine, and unless you have MD after your name, don't bother commenting, is such as model reply to try out in your own life.
8 Show Solidarity
When Jessica Simpson was pregnant with her first child, she faced a rude backlash for gaining 70 pounds. Strangers felt free to call her everything imaginable and a few unimaginable things, just because she was famous and out of reach. But even a stranger's comments can sting, and thus Kendra Wilkinson-Baskett came to her assistance and threw back some judgement on the judgers. She said she understood Jessica's situation, and said, "I was in the same boat. People just need to mind their own business." We can do the same when we see others being attacked for stupid reasons. By standing up to hate, we can make inroads in stopping this mommy shaming BS. While we can't end haters and haterism, we can make them uncomfortable and check them when they attack. Solidarity will also strengthen another person's resolve to withstand criticism and arrows of venom.
7 Grow A Thick Skin
Coco Austin is wife to actor and rapper, Ice-T, and mom to adorable baby Chanel. She is also an avid social media user, and that has stung at times. She's been accused of being too skinny while pregnant, too enamored of herself in pics, using her baby as a prop and being too sexy with baby pics. She's also not stopped being online, posting more pics or otherwise been silenced by her online critics. Maybe you don't love her taste, think she's too this or not enough that, but bottom line is---who are you? And why should Coco care what you think? I guess Coco knows that too, because she's not changed an iota, and Ice-T doesn't seem to mind one bit, and baby Chanel looks quite loved and content. Growing a thick skin will be one requirement for anyone who puts their life and their image out there online.
6 Stay Private
Sometimes it's best to keep your world small and manageable. One way to do that is to keep your online world connected only to those you know, love and care to hear from. This way when you post a pic and someone calls you a nasty name, you know it's your great-Aunt Carol, and she was probably having her afternoon cocktail and feeling sassy. By choosing to handpick who you are posting your thoughts and images to, you have more control and fewer worries. It's a definite choice open to almost everyone, unless you are a movie star who needs some kind of online persona for people to feel connected to.
So if you want to share your life with others, but only others who actually know and give a crap about you, consider having a private social media life where you choose who sees what you want seen. Perhaps you won't achieve internet fame, but neither will you find internet notoriety.
5 Become Fake News For A Real Reason
Sometimes it takes a little more work to deal with mommy shamers in a proactive way. Comedian Celeste Barber has made a name for herself by laughing away the shamers by taking them head on in parodies of celeb pics. Celeste will post photos of herself hilariously recreating the scenes in star posts and pics. She goes all out, too, showing parts of herself with boldness and tongue firmly in cheek. She refers to herself as the Australian Comedy Queen and her website states, "Welcome. How have you been? Good? It’s great of you to stop by. If you could take your shoes off at the entrance and compliment me on my delicate bone structure before you leave, that would be great. Have fun." Having fun with online posts and pics is another way to deal with shamers and potential haters. Create some fun fake news. Everyone is doing it these days!
4 Shame The Shamers
Anne Hathaway last summer took on haters ahead of time, calling them out for body shaming post-baby bods. Her eloquent post on instagram read, "There is no shame in gaining weight during pregnancy (or ever). There is no shame if it takes longer than you think it will to lose the weight (if you want to lose it at all). There is no shame in finally breaking down and making your own jean shorts because last summer's are just too dang short for this summer's thighs. Bodies change. Bodies grow. Bodies shrink. It's all love (don't let anyone tell you otherwise.) Peace xx." Kinda shuts down the shamers before they get the hate out their mouths, eh? In your own life you can post things and go ahead and address the criticism before the critics even have a chance to say it. It steals their thunder and kills their arguments.
3 Project Confidence
Sometimes the mommy shamers are also daddy shamers, although not nearly as often for whatever reason. However, new dad and movie star Ryan Reynolds got slammed for something so mild; how he was holding his child! It was a new carrier and Ryan met the controversy with relaxed humility and unflappable style. He said, "I'm a first-time dad and that is not the first mistake I've made and I can guarantee it won't be the last." How to use this approach in your own life is to remain chill despite the shrill words flung at you. Don't let it rattle you or make you change your own coolness. Admit if you actually have messed up but don't escalate it to felony child endangerment if it was a simple, little error that most of us have made or will make at some time as a parent.
2 Recognize Your Own Expert-ness
Writer Rachel Garlinghouse has written on the topic of being shamed, even in person! As an adoptive mom of four and a transracial family, Garlinghouse gets rude questions. I know; I've had them as well. "Are they all real siblings? Do they have the same dads?" To which I learned to say, "I don't remember!" or if I felt especially irked, "Do yours?" She tells a story where a stranger questioned her decision to carry her child in a carrier, at the ancient age of toddlerdom. She relays how she popped off various justifications to this stranger who dared to call her out on something innocuous. She encourages moms to fight this inclination and stop trying to defend something not needing a defense. Her basic advice, "Just look the person directly in the eye and say these five magic words: 'I’m okay with my choices.' "
1 Live Well--It's The Best Revenge!
Mila Kunis who starred in the aptly titled, Bad Moms has received her share of celeb mom shaming, but she doesn't accept it. Or let it stifle her joy in her obviously good life. Believe it or not, her moment of judgement came from breastfeeding baby daughter, Wyatt, in public! Mila shared, "In the States and in our culture, we sexualize the breast so much that there’s an aspect of it that people just don’t know how to wrap their head around the idea of showing your breast in public." She also noted, "If it's not for you, don't look." You've heard living well is the best revenge, and I agree heartily. You can please everyone, but the more important question is, why would you even try? Who are these people to you? Have they ever once asked for your wisdom on anything? Are they actual experts who you revere or at least accept? Then as Chrissy Teigen says, they should, "Shut the hell up!"
Sources: EOnline.com, WetPaint.com, BuzzFeed.com, Mom.me/news, News.com.au, Elle.com, NewsDay.com, CafeMom.com, Babble.com