These days, the reality that women face as mothers is not a new or unusual one. Just as women are made a spectacle in their femininity, sexuality, and work ethic before motherhood – once they become pregnant, it is not a private nine months, but rather a public forum for judgment.
As Susan Bright points out in her piece Home Truths, there is a “climate of maternal guilt that swirls around contemporary culture (12)”. The expectation of a good mother is someone who gives up everything for her child. There is either good mothering or bad mothering – no in between. In turn, that means you have either succeeded or failed as a woman. A fairly new aspect of motherhood in the media is the prevalence of social media and outreach. According to website ‘The Motherhood’, ninety-two percent of moms take information learned online and share it offline. This shows the potential for growth and tales from all walks of life, yet the portrayal of pregnancy in the media is still a very white and privileged one.
The celebrities who saturate all forms of (Western) media are mostly white, attractive, and incredibly wealthy. They continue to perpetuate this standard throughout their pregnancies – which of course makes those watching even more self-conscious. What is hidden are their personal trainers, and full team waiting to nip and tuck as soon as the baby’s first cry.
In contrast, Douglas’ Mommy Myth addresses the Welfare Queen. The Welfare Queen is a minority woman with many children from different men. She is dependent upon food stamps but abuses the system – buying luxuries instead of necessities. She is overweight, lazy and irresponsible and of course passes this attitude onto her children.
The Welfare Queen was an image created and injected into the media in order to keep minorities failing, instead of confronting the issue of those in society who need support and assistance. In fact, there are many mothers on food stamps who are white – yet this is mindboggling to those who associate welfare with the struggling Others of society.
Douglas, Susan J. “The War Against Welfare Mothers.” The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women. N.p.: Free, 2004. 176-202. Print.
Bright, Susan. “Motherlode.” Home Truths: Photography and Motherhood. N.p.: London, 2013. 1-63. Print.
“Cause Marketing: What Makes Moms Go Social.” The Motherhood. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2014.
“The Motherhood Effect: Cooper Munroe & Emily McKhann at TEDx.” The Motherhood. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2014.
Seidman, Ellen. “12 Ways Social Media Has Transformed Motherhood.” Babble. Disney, 24 Jan. 2013. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.