Shortly after I gave birth to my daughter, I was feeding her, wearing the same outfit I was wearing the day (or two) before, covered in tears and spit up. I was scrolling through Instagram and came across a photo of a brand new mom, still in her hospital bed post-labor, wearing a beautiful floral robe and looking more put together than I do on a normal day. She was holding her new perfect baby girl – big pink bow and all. Do you know the first thought that came to my mind?
I was “less than” her.
Why was I still in my clothes from two days ago? Why did I still look huge and pregnant with deep, dark bags under my eyes? Was I failing because I was having a hard time with new mom life, while she was sitting in her hospital bed all perfect and happy?
As my daughter went through her first three months of life and I silently struggled with postpartum anxiety and depression, I would see photos of other new moms on social media living a seemingly flawless, new mom lifestyle. I would beat myself up every time I saw a photo of a smiling, fit new mom going on a run with her 3 month old, while I was having a hard time getting myself out of the house. Every time I logged onto Instagram, I convinced myself that I wasn’t doing “as good” as others. That self-imposed pressure turned into me really not loving myself.
Being a new mom can be very isolating.
I love to turn to social media and “mom blogs” for information first. All over the internet, I would read about the benefits of breastfeeding and why you must do it. When it didn’t work out for me, I felt like society would hate me and pin me as a bad mom. I even found myself avoiding certain people that were breastfeeding, just because I didn’t want to say out loud that I was feeding my daughter formula. Then, when I had to put my 3 month old on medicine for reflux, the internet told me I was a monster.
There are messages of what moms should do, be, think, and act like pressure us every single day.
When the societal pressures mix with a strong majority of social media accounts posting only the happiest, edited, filtered (and in a lot of cases, fake) photos and stories, it take take a huge toll on one’s self-love and self-worth. This is especially true for new moms who are vulnerable and easily impressionable. I fell victim to the “highlight reel” for a long time. So many times, I would look at social media and read blog posts thinking that what I saw was reality– that everybody was happy and perfect at all times.
I finally realized two things:
- What you see on social media is not real. People don’t want to post negative things on their social media platforms (understandably so). Up until recently, I was one of those people. You would have never known that I was so unhappy based on my social media feed.
- Society will tell you all sorts of things, but who decides what is right and wrong? Honestly, I wonder this all the time.
The bottom line is that comparison is the thief of joy.
Don’t compare yourself to what you see on social media. People who run picture-perfect accounts spend a lot of time making curated stories of their lives in order to attract an audience. You NEVER know how hard of a time they could actually be having. Appreciate the happiness and beauty you see in the photos, but take it with a grain of salt.
Don’t compare yourself or give in to the pressure to change yourself to society’s wants. Doing what is best for you and your life is going to be much better than doing something that some influential person decided was right.
If you want to change the world, be more vulnerable on social media.
Take a break from picture perfect posts. Educate, inspire, or bring awareness to something that you might be struggling with. Social media pressure can be such a curse, but it can also be such a blessing if used for good.
Just remember, somebody will always have more and do more than you do; conversely, somebody will always see you as the person who has more and does more.
So you do you, mama. Eat the cake, go for a run, or just spend the day on the couch watching movies with your kid(s). Heck, go spend a day by yourself.
If it makes you happy, that’s really all that matters, right?
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