When Mom Shaming Makes a Splash
First and foremost, I want to be completely transparent.... my October/November blog post was headed in a entirely different content direction. I recognize we are no longer in the middle of weather that would coincide with punny pool-adjacent titles, but I came across an article that made me so angry, I needed to vent a little. I will attempt to keep my thoughts as structured and non-tangential as possible, but given my level of frustration, you may have to bear with me a little.
I will give you a summary, but feel free to read the original article here. I will also preface by saying this did not occur in the U.S. but let's get serious, mom/women shaming is no better here in the states.
So in short, a mother took her baby to swim lessons where primarily fathers would join their tots in the water, while the mothers watched lovingly from the sidelines. This particular mom was solo at the lessons because of her partner's schedule and therefore, she was the one getting in the water with her baby. She made small talk with one of the dads at the beginning of said swim lesson. Later she was approached by one of the spectating mothers. She was told by this mother, "If you are going to continue to swim with husbands and fathers, you should really dress more modestly." The author posted a picture of her swimsuit, which was basically a crop top and high wasted bikini bottoms. I have so many thoughts and feelings about this particular subject. Truthfully, I could probably write a book instead of a blog post, but for the sake of everyone's time, I will attempt to keep this short and succinct.
It is possible that my hypersensitivity to this article in particular is due, in part, to my own fears surrounding a similar experience (with a much different outcome). This past summer, we enrolled all three of my children in swim lessons. The lessons occurred daily for two weeks straight. Our youngest daughter's lesson was "parent/tot," requiring my husband or myself to get in the freezing cold water with our little fish. For the first week, I watched from the sidelines as my husband interacted with her, sang water songs, and helped teach her how to kick her little legs and paddle her tiny arms. It was the sweetest thing and it looked like so much fun. I wanted to be a part of her experience as well. I decided that I would abandon my pool side post and get in with her during the second week of classes. Because I had been pregnant for what feels like the past 7 years, I had not bought a new swimsuit in probably a decade. Much like the woman in the story, I have a super long torso which makes any one-piece swimsuit extremely uncomfortable. It either pulls down in the front or it rides up the back. I had gone out and bought a couple of one-pieces just for this class and found that due to said pulling down or riding up, one-pieces were actually more revealing than my two-piece swimsuits. I bought a couple of modest two pieces and hoped for the best.
My swim lesson experience was vastly different and luckily no one was abrasive in their judgments of my chosen water attire. Regardless, I was incredibly self-conscious and hurried into the pool with my tot covering the majority of my exposed midriff. My fear though, prior to disrobing… was exactly what this woman had experienced, "What if someone says something to me about wearing a two piece… what if they think I am a bad mom because I am showing my stomach?" I was afraid of the exact thing that happened to the other mom! Guys what this woman went through is shaming…. specifically mom shaming. And it happens so often. I cannot imagine a dad being approached in a similar situation and being told if he is going to continue to come to a class with children and moms, he might want to consider putting longer shorts on. For some reason, when it comes to mothers, people feel as though they have a right to pass along their opinion.
My question is, when were we taught that after a certain age (specifically after children), women should be ashamed of their bodies? Once you have children, it is time to cover up every square inch. Why?
When were we also taught that it is acceptable to thrust our insecurities onto other women? That’s right I said it, the other woman was likely experiencing her own insecurities. Perhaps she did not like her husband being in a pool and speaking to another woman? Maybe she wished she were brave enough to throw on a swim suit and get in the water herself? I honestly could dive pretty deep (pool pun intended) on how insecurities manifest into mom shaming.… but for now I will stick to swim attire and body shaming.
As I've gotten older, I have noticed I have a zero tolerance policy for bullying. Not that I had a ton of tolerance for it before, but I think becoming a mother really showed me the need for women to lift each other up. So when I stumble upon articles like the one linked above, it first enrages me and then it truly breaks my heart. The woman just wanted to participate in an activity with her child. She was not there clad in her skimpiest, hoping to steal some unsuspecting dad away from his water treading child and respective spectating spouse.
You know what that mom could have used instead of a judgement "Karen" dampening her mommy/tot time? She could have used a friendly mom approaching her and saying, "I noticed it is just the two of you today!… Would you like me to take some pictures of you two in the pool and send them to you?" Ladies…. This is how we should be showing up for each other! Kindness first! Or better yet… Kindness ALWAYS <3
Until Next Time…
With Love - Jess