I can't tell you how tired I am of so-called "mom shamers." I'm tired of the cutesy saying that somehow makes them seem less toxic than they truly are. I'm tired of the debilitating damage these sort of negative people cause in vulnerable, insecure parents. I'm tired of the arrogant assumption that their judgment is infallible, their opinion always welcome, their justification unchallenged. Which is why I was so happy to see this photographer and mom's "anti-mommy shamers unite" photo shoot. Not only is it beautifully done, the message behind it is seriously important. Especially in the digital age.
Las Vegas, Nevada photographer Abbie Fox of Foxy Photography has had it up to here with all of the mom shamers. And while most of us are pretty fed up, Abbie decided to do something about it. A powerful photo shoot with kids proudly holding up signs about some of their mom's parenting decisions. As Abbie wrote on her Facebook page; "In this technology world where we spend tons of time on Facebook and in Mommy groups we find one major thing every day... Mommy Shaming. People roll their eyes and say it doesn't happen anymore but it is alive and well, and it can be brutal."
And how do you combat bullies? Because let's be clear here; mom shaming is absolutely bullying.
Abbie told Romper via email that she felt galvanized to take action and arrange a photo shoot like this after seeing some pretty severe mommy shaming of one woman who was sleep training her child:
I’ve wanted to do one for awhile but I hadn’t had time. These sessions take months of prep work. I also knew it would be controversial and needed to make sure I did it at a time I could fully be there to make it right. I am in dozens of mommy groups and one day I was reading posts and the moms were just being awful to this one mom about sleep training.
She remembered being shamed for sleep training herself and knew how difficult that sort of judgment could be for a mom.
I had also been shamed for sleep training and I thought, man I wish she had a little more support and knew she wasn’t alone. Then I thought I needed to do something on the subject.
That's when she decided to work on the "Anti-Mommy Shamers Unite" project. Where adorable children in white t-shirts would hold up simple chalkboard-style signs with messages like "I still co-sleep" and "I'm formula fed by choice." Honestly, it's brilliant. Because it takes the attention away from the parents and puts it squarely on the happy faces of these kids. Who clearly do not seem to be suffering as a result of their parents' individual choices.
Abbie's photo shoot has gone viral since it was first posted on Thursday for good reason. While Abbie noted in an email to Romper that there were a few negative responses, for the most part moms seem to feel respected and inspired by this photo shoot, as they shared on Facebook:
This is awesome!! Can we share!? So many moms need to be reminded that it’s all OK!!! There are many routes to raising amazing kids!
💗mom tribe so much more important than mom shaming and you rock Abbie!
Oh. My. Gosh!!!! #yourockedit A million loves! I read and went. Haha that’s me. And that’s me and oh yeah so been there! Great job!
Every picture of every kid was obviously great, but the most powerful picture came at the end.
All of the kids united against a backdrop of trees, smiling and holding up the letters "We are loved."
With any luck, this photo shoot might encourage people to think twice before passing judgment on someone else's parenting decisions. We are all flawed... but that doesn't mean we're not trying our hardest.
So cut us some slack, will you?