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Is motherhood depicted accurately on Instagram?

You may have heard the story recently about Jade Roper Tolbert, former Bachelor in Paradise star and mommy to 5-month-old Emerson. She did a paid Instagram post partnership with bra maker ThirdLove, and this was the resulting photo:

It should be noted that (a) this is an ad, and (b) the goal is ultimately to sell the bra. So in that context, the photo makes sense.

As you might have guessed, though, there was a lot of criticism around the photo and how it doesn’t reflect the realities of motherhood — and specifically breastfeeding.

Some on Instagram accused her of “setting a standard that was impossible to live up to.”

Part of her response included this:

“If you guys feel like I’m portraying some kind of falsehood of motherhood, this is my real life,” she said. “This is me on a Monday morning. I’ve already used my shirt as a spit-up rag. I have clothes everywhere that have not been washed.”

This is a broadly interesting topic even beyond her story.

I think we all know that social media is curated to some degree. Because these photos are going out to both friends and potential business partners/clients, people like to put their best foot forward. Typically in tougher life periods (i.e. divorce, miscarriage, etc.), you will see people go off social — they don’t have anything positive to share out, so they become less active.

But motherhood is obviously very challenging, especially in the early days, weeks, and months. Are there enough Instagram accounts truly showing that side of the equation? We’ve all seen smiling babies, cuddled babies, cute babies in new strollers, etc.

But do we have enough posts with the spit-up rag?

And if we don’t, then isn’t everyone posting motherhood pics essentially setting an unrealistic standard?

Tolbert also posted a picture of her breastfeeding at a restaurant with Emerson (the child) under a cover — and that photo also created controversy, to the point that she had to take it down. When explaining that situation, Tolbert said this:

“People were telling me that I shouldn’t cover up and I was actually getting flack for putting a cover over my baby, which I just don’t understand,” the new mom said. “Why that would be something people would give me s— about?”

That might be the bigger issue here: why is any of this something that people need to give a sh*t about? We all parent (mothers and fathers) in our own way/style, and it’s not right to be judgmental of others on social media for not following your path.

But for the main Q now: have you seen Insta accounts that you think portray motherhood in a realistic way? Or is most of what you follow more beautiful and curated?

Kristin Smith

Kristin is a wife, mom, doula and a kick ass swaddler. She spends her time helping families get top notch support throughout their parenting journey. When she isn't swaddling babies, she can be found sipping latte's and watching her daughter play softball. Read more...

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