New mom Julia Stiles is the latest to get “mom shamed” after she posted what she thought was an adorable photo of herself and her newborn, Strummer Newcomb, to Instagram.
Fellow moms went at her hard in the comments section, accusing the actress of improperly putting her five-week-old child in a baby carrier. But, she came right back, writing: “It was brought to my attention that in the previous photo I am not holding my baby correctly. Wow, I didn’t expect that…What was supposed to be a shout out of products I like suddenly becomes an invitation to comment on my baby, and my ability as a mother. That’s the Internet for you, the carnivorous plant from Little Shop of Horrors. I was trying to keep as much of my son’s image private, including, I guess, his little feet. And it was just a photo taken at home, not how I normally carry him around. Thanks for the concern, anyway. Yes, mothers, always read the safety instructions. But also, Instagrammers: instead of writing snarky comments about a five-week-old, try dancing around your living room to a Clash record. It’s way more fun.”
“I wrote a big chapter about mommy shaming,” Stern tells Personal Space. “Ugh, ignore all these people, it’s always everything you do is going to be wrong, but know in your heart of hearts that you’re right.”
Stern says mom shaming exists everywhere in the world, and it’s become especially hard for celebs to post anything they do to social media, because someone is going to find fault with it. “Julia did nothing wrong, you have to have thick skin,” she says.
“In my book I talk about how I am not the perfect mother, but in this word of social media, they’re all perfect. Sorry my kids don’t eat perfect organic farmed eggs every morning,” she laughs. “I got into a place where I don’t care what other mothers say about me, but it took a long time to get there, and for other moms, it can be daunting and very lonely.”
Every mom makes mistakes, Stern says, and everyone from our own family and loved ones to strangers can mom shame you, especially on social media.
“What I want everyone to realize is that we’re all trying our best, nobody should judge another mother, nobody knows the situation,” she adds.
She’s speaking from personal experience.
When her son was three, he once had a meltdown in Barnes & Noble because he couldn’t get all the books he wanted. End of the world, right? “The perfect moms all standing around were staring at me, I just picked him up and left and I was laughing,” Stern says. “The next time their kids have a meltdown, and it will happen, I hope that they don’t get judged and people mind their own business.”
A similar incident in Whole Foods when her daughter was just three months old also taught her to keep her humor while her kid has a meltdown.
“She was crying. Another mom was glaring at me, dirty looks, the whole thing,” Stern says. “I started singing to my daughter, she cheered up, was happy, As I checked out, I walked by the mom with the sleeping perfect baby, and started singing so loudly and woke up her perfect baby, who started crying.”
Everybody needs to stop.
“I am learning each and every day myself, I am no parenting expert and I don’t know anybody that is,” Stern says. “There are ways to go about it, you go to people and ask for advice, that’s a different story. For someone to come out and start judging and say what’s on their mind is mind boggling.”
Now, she just says “thanks” and keeps it moving.
“At this point, now, I don’t engage, I say ‘thank you.’ I am not even going to engage in this conversation,” Stern says. “Even my own mother will throw in what she thinks she knows is best, I listen and I do what’s best for me and my family.
Bake sale? I go to Whole Foods and buy something. I’m a full-time working mom. My kids understand that. You get to point when you’re done and all mothers get to that point. We all need to take a step back and be there for each other, empowering each other. Do not judge because you have no idea what is going on.”
Mommy blogger Scary Mommy says that mom shaming comes out when overwhelmed moms need a release.
“Our parenting beliefs are not as easy to hide as religion and politics, so we use them as weapons when we need a release. The Mommy Wars are collapsing our confidence one snarky Facebook comment at a time. We are breaking each other down because we’re crumbling inside, our pre-motherhood identity slowly disintegrating under the weight of the laundry, the groceries, and the thirty thousand jackets and sand toys and leaky sippy cups that our kids have left in the car. Motherhood is hard. So why are we so cruel to each other?” she writes.
She explains that boredom, anger, and jealousy all contribute to mom-shaming, and that when you are exhausted and it’s all too much to take some time for yourself so you don’t insert yourself into another mom’s life.
According to a recent survey, 61 percent of moms say they have been mom shamed at some point. The study, which was conducted by the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan, polled 475 moms with kids under the age of five, who said they were shamed for their chosen discipline methods the most, with diet or nutrition coming in second.
Bedtime and napping, breastfeeding vs. bottle, and child safety rounded out the top five mom shaming topics.
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