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Mom-shaming 101: What is it, and how can we avoid unconsciously doing the act?

By SAAB LARIOSA Published May 04, 2022 5:56 pm

It's been said that every mother is a walking miracle.

From childbirth to child-rearing, one can't deny the powerful impact that our maternal caregivers provide. Even after their children have left the nests, a mom remains a steadfast support system for the rest of their children's lives.

Despite these wins and how things may look rosy on social media, there's no such thing as a "one-size-fits-all" parenting style. Thus, the birth of mom guilt and mom-shaming.

In a 2017 poll report by the Michigan Medicine’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, researchers found that 61% or 6 out of 10 mothers have been shamed for the way they raise their children.

These concepts are nothing new, but the pandemic has seemingly put moms at the forefront of guilt-tripping and shame to singlehandedly cater to their children 24/7.

Even the likes of Solenn Heussaff, with her supportive husband and multitude of mom friends, have felt the harsh sting of mom guilt. In an Instagram post, the actress shared that she felt guilty for being away from her family for a week.

"Mum guilt can be real, but remember to always take some time off for yourself sometimes!" she wrote along with a photo caressing baby Thylane.

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A post shared by Solenn Heussaff (@solenn)

Mom-shaming, meanwhile, begins with other people's comments on a mother's growing body during pregnancy that furthers into a conversation on raising children as a whole.

With celebrities opening the conversation on balancing mom life with their own separate affairs, what more should we, regular folks who don't have the same privileges, do so?

"Momfluencer" and content creator Marycor Valencia is just one of the moms who has faced the gripe of being shamed.

"Others don't think that they're mom-shaming you, but truth be told, they are," Marycor told PhilSTAR L!fe. The content creator recalled a conversation during her second pregnancy when someone commented on her body being noticeably thinner than with her first child.

"Bakit parang ang payat mo, tigil mo na pagpapadede sa panganay mo kasi preggy ka pa naubusan ka na ng nutrition," the shamer said. Marycor said that with comments like that, it's best to be kind, but firm in what experts say. She then replied to the shamer: "Thanks for your concern but I think I'm good with it. I consulted an OB and she said we're doing great."

"Parang hello, it's my body and I know its limitation naman, 'di ba? Of course, I will do what's good for me and my children," she added.

"It looks like they're just concerned or they just want to say something, we don't know, but sometimes it's better not to speak out those words, especially to a pregnant mom—pre and postpartum alike."

According to the momfluencer, here are some other sentences tinged with mom-shaming that we may be unconsciously saying:

  • "Ang laki na ng ilong mo. Malamang boy yan!" (Your nose is getting big. You must be carrying a boy!)
  • "Ang laki ng tiyan mo. Buntis ka ba ulit?" (Your stomach is getting bigger. Are you pregnant again?)
  • "Ang payat ng anak mo. Kumakain pa ba siya/picky eater ba siya?" (Your child is so thin. Are they still eating/Are they a picky eater?)
  • "Bakit hindi pa marunong ng alphabets anak mo. Ilang taon na siya?" (Your child still doesn't know their alphabets. How old are they?)

How to avoid the act? Marycor advises the age-old rule of thinking before you speak, and sticking to kindness as a default.

"As much as possible, it's best to simply say something nice because you don't know maybe what that mom is going through. She may be feeling overwhelmed, and your little words may completely affect her."

In a similar wave, it's the people close to them that should help in alleviating the pressures of society. In the same Mott Children’s Hospital report, researchers found that most shaming comments come from the mother's own parents (37%), followed by their husband/partner (36%).

If there is a new mom in your life, take this as a sign to show them love not just by consciously avoiding mom-shaming, but also by offering to lessen their load in any way you can. 

"Let's learn or at least try to uplift the moms out there," Marycor said. "A simple 'You're doing great momma!' can brighten her mood and maybe even make her day."