Time is a funny old thing, isn’t it? A few months ago I wrote a hasty and unedited post on here, questioning where all the Black British mothers were on Instagram. Of course, I knew they existed, I followed most of them but in terms of visibility and promotion, there were very few raisins in the rice pudding. In between then and now, many things have happened which continued to niggle away at my ‘girl you better do something about this’- ness. But none were more impactful than that Mumsnet thread. Whilst I understood that the tone of the thread wasn’t that nice at all, I couldn’t help but notice that mothers that looked like me or anyone other than Caucasian, middle class and heterosexual were not mentioned.
‘But why would you or anyone you could identify with, not being mentioned in a thread where the most popular ‘insta-mums’ were being dragged irritate you?’ I hear you ask.
It irritated me because it was the only proof needed to cement my findings that no other version of motherhood seemed worthy of being ‘popular’, ‘cool’ and most importantly, ‘valid.’
But for a few days, I kept my thoughts to myself as I was unaware how to properly approach the situation. This was until I watched Sareta's insta story sharing her opinion. Watching another woman of colour be brave enough to point out the blindingly obvious, it inspired me to pick up my phone and do the same. I used my ‘TEATIME!’ insta-stories to voice my opinion on what I took from the matter on the fly I mentioned the hashtag #MAKEMOTHERHOODDIVERSE and to be honest the response was and continues to be a little overwhelming, in the warmest sense.
(Major thanks to Claud's husband for this wonderful logo!)
I’ve quickly learned that I am not alone in my findings and thoughts. Once we opened up the can of worms, it was shocking (for me) to find that there were also white women, who felt as though they were not represented. It has become clear that we have a massive issue. A problem that of course goes beyond Instagram as social media is always heavily influenced from what we are taught in the world. If I have to go online to find a doll the same skin tone as Esme (and pay a very out of order international shipping fee!) then, of course, seeing myself represented, very least as a mother, in the online world, is something that I would struggle with.
Admittedly, all I was going to do is post a few photos and write about it. but requests for doing ‘more’ kept on coming. But do what exactly? That is where Nicola Washington comes in. I really like Nicola, so much so that I blindly (i say that as we have yet to meet in real life!) asked her to be on my ‘TEATIME!’ panel a few months back and she thankfully agreed. Nicola contacted me and encouraged me to see what could be done with my large gob and her expertise. With the help of her, Sarah Gregory, MOTHERHOOD RX, and Cee, we have been able to start what is now being called a ‘campaign’ (!!!!!!!)
We hope the Instagram will be a place that mothers and bands alike use to widen their net of influence and inspiration, learning that there is no one sole face of motherhood. Anyone can submit a photo and motherhood story that they believe is worthy of sharing. The page will be monitored but not controlled and no tone of voice will be edited. But I think the MMD Mission Statement could explain this better than I ever could.
“Every child is different” goes the saying, but surely the same can be said for mothers too?
Despite the enormous spectrum of realities however, too often we are fed a singular story about motherhood.
It’s one that dominates the adverts, the online influencers and features large in what we see projected into our homes via tv and film, but it’s a representation that so many mothers do not identify with.
Make Motherhood Diverse is not an act of exclusion. We don’t want to ignore the mothers in the adverts; the middle class white mothers with glossy hair and immaculate clothes. What we want is to do is represent this version of motherhood truthfully: as part of the picture, not its whole.
Make Motherhood Diverse is an act of inclusion.
Because when we look at representations of motherhood in our society awareness demands we ask, where are the black mums, the brown mums, the differently-abled mums? Where are those caring for children with additional needs? Where are those with tattoos and piercings, pink hair or those who just don’t care about their appearance? Where are the gay mums, the fat mums, the working class mums? Where are the mums who might tick several or all of these boxes?
You’re all out there, but ask yourself how many times do we see your faces or hear your stories?
Make Motherhood Diverse wants to change this. Yes, it’s only a hashtag, just another social media campaign, but by reading the stories of mothers who do not look like us, who do not sound like us, or dress like us, whose children don’t look or behave like ours, perhaps we can learn.
Perhaps we can start to celebrate the things that make us different, and maybe, through the prism of motherhood, we can start to realise just how much we have in common.
Make Motherhood Diverse aims to represent every experience equally, democratically, and inclusively, using the pictures mothers choose to take, and the words they choose to use.
We don’t speak for anyone, you speak for yourselves. We simply provide visibility, a level and reaching platform, for all the “types” of mother you can possibly think of to stand tall, proud and heard.
And this is where you come in. If #MAKEMOTHERHOODDIVERSE has struck a chord in your heart and you want to get involved don’t hesitate to drop me a line over at firstname.lastname@example.org or better yet share your pictures and stories using the hashtag. This will allow us to know that you consent to us sharing your story on the MMD Instagram page.
Please follow #MAKEMOTHERHOODDIVERSE HERE
Together we can change the face of Motherhood.