Friday, 4 March 2016

Why I hate the supermums of Instagram

When I was a kid the worst words a host could utter were 'Would you like to see our holiday snaps? As it presaged at least half an hour of h oohing and aahing over utterly dull shots them and their kids posed against landmarks in some not awfully far flung destination. Even worse was if they were a bit more tech savvy and could put them up into a slide show. Everyone would sit, stifling yawns, in a darkened room as we were subjected to grainy slide-after-slide of pictures of them splashing in the waves in their Speedos (it was the 70s after all).

Back then pictures of other people's lives were probably the dullest form of entertainment imaginable. Fast forward 30 or so years and we can't seem to get enough of them. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have made billions courtesy of our insatiable desire to devour images of other people's lives. It has also made a pretty penny for those select few whose photos everyone wants to see too. Gather yourself a few thousand, or indeed tens of thousands, of followers who lap up your smug photos of your perfect life and you can bag yourself a fortune from brands who want to hook themselves to your star.

So what's changed? It's very simple - the ability to edit your life so you only show the gorgeous, heavily filtered, glossy magazine version of your daily life.

In the days of film, your dad would take a shaky shot of you, cutting off half your head, with your belly hanging out and a weird expression on your face. But you wouldn't know how monstrous you looked until the photo came back from the chemist, by which time far too much had been invested in the photo not to keep it for posterity.

Seventies family life is preserved in all its Technicolour horror, though thankfully it is now consigned to dusty albums or retro slide boxes, that are only aired when your parents want to embarrass you in front of your kids.

Family life in 2016 can be doctored as thoroughly as any magazine front cover, which has led to the rise of the model family as portrayed so deeply annoyingly by the uber mums of Instagram.

Where once it was acceptable to slide disgracefully into motherhood. Once you had an extra human being to care for it was OK to let your standards slip. A day spent wiping up slicks of unmentionable bodily fluids was excuse enough to live in tatty tracksuit trousers and a ratty T-shirt that skimmed over the bumps left behind after expelling a child or two.

Not any more. Now mums are tortured by shots of women who seem intent on sharing how bloody amazing they are. Their children are photogenic and dressed immaculately in the latest mini me fashions, their houses are interior designed to the hilt, their holidays are not sandy sandwiches on a windswept beach, but infinity pools in exotic locations and, worst of all, they still look gorgeous in a bikini.

How I hate these paragons of perfection who remind us that you (and your husband) that don't have to let yourself go after having children. In fact you can still be a sex goddess, a loving mummy, a wild explorer and a fitness queen.

Oh please do fuck off with your year long sabbaticals jetting around the world with your stunning bevy of blonde toddlers, your insistence that motherhood is no reason to jettison your fashion sense, and your meals that look as if Jamie Oliver just popped round to cook an organic tea for your tots.

If only I still had mini people of my own I could set up an anti-instamum account, sharing only shots of me when I had been freshly puked on, had failed to wash my hair for a week and still had a preggie bump two years after my child had exited my womb. I could wax lyrical about the beauty of elasticated waists and food from jars, I could let my devoted followers watch as I jetted from Tesco to  push a crying child on the swings in a wind swept park. I could inspire envy with shots of my children literally coated in snot, or whinging in a wee soaked nappy. I could be the real mum of Instagram.

I am sick of the reality of motherhood being airbrushed under the carpet, and I think it is about time mums are reminded that while there may be the rare and exotic few for whom becoming a keeper of several small and wild things makes her more beautiful, successful and all round amazing, for most of us it's still a challenge getting dressed and out in the morning.


  1. Really enjoyed this post and your previous one.

    I feel so sad about social media and motherhood. In the early days, we old-time bloggers lifted the lid on motherhood. I remember the first BritMums Live conference, where we were applauded for telling it as it is, keeping it real, forging meaningful on-line relationships when the toddler group ones were bad, not glossing the bad bits... It seems that humans are destined to be competitive. Wherever a new forum opens up, where people can be themselves and enjoy sharing stuff, the good, the bad and the ugly, then in no time at all, somehow competition creeps in. Makes me sad. Social media has become the very shackle for mothers that 10 years ago it began to liberate them from. Are mothers doomed always to have to seem perfect?

    1. And thank you for your kind words of support

  2. See, I can't even comment without hitting the "publish" button twice by mistake. That's how hopeless I am. Rejoice in my hopelessness! That's what blogging is about.

    1. Hear, hear. I agree that all this vlogging and instagraming requires a degree of photogenic-ness that bloggers never had to possess and I think it is a poorer art form as a result. You don't have to be beautiful to have a point of view! Not to say that we aren't both stunners of course ;-) But that's not the point.

  3. Ha! You're not hopeless Iota

    I don't have the time to commit to showing a perfect, curated version of my life, so I suppose I am accidentally 'keeping it real'