Beyonce and twins

Motherhood can be gloriously life-affirming and wondrous (oh yes it can) but it can also be utter sh** too.

That now infamous photo of Beyoncé and her twins Sir and Rumi is truly magical. Just look at it. It’s a fairy tale style capture: an aesthetically beautiful staged image reminiscent of religious art.

It is however lacking realism because (sadly) new motherhood isn’t all flowing locks, a flat post-birth tum and serene sleeping babes in arms.

If only.

I’m a fan of Beyoncé’s, she’s a strong woman I wholeheartedly admire but I feel, in an ideal world, this picture would come with a warning. A note that this is NOT THE NORM.

It is of course, Bey’s prerogative to create an icon-like piece of art if she chooses but this kind of imagery on motherhood verges on becoming dangerous if that’s all we see from mainstream influencers (and it doesn’t come more influential than Beyoncé).

Put it this way, I’m MUCH more Adele and far less Queen Bey when it comes to sharing the highs and lows of motherhood and I say that as a fellow blow-dry-loving mama who likes to glam up with the best of them.
The truth is, early motherhood is tough. I know it. Adele knows it. Even Beyoncé knows it, however much she might glorify it.
Millions of women (a whopping 15% are said to suffer from post-natal depression) and many will have applauded Adele’s honest narrative since the birth of her son, “I love my son more than anything, but on a daily basis, if I have a minute or two, I wish I could do whatever the f— I wanted, whenever I want. Every single day I feel like that.”
That honesty, so rare from mainstream stars is why bloggers and vloggers have accumulated such huge audiences. Their transparency and integrity is precious. It helps us all feel more normal and less alone.
The problem with just sharing positive imagery about new motherhood without the caption/ context: the babies puked, this stuff is hard but I wanted to celebrate my status as a mum of two etc etc alongside it means we’re simply offered this Hollywood style narrative of perfect motherhood on a plate and it’s unnerving.
That discourse causes alienation. It can exacerbate the self-doubt many mothers already feel post-birth.
That ‘motherhood is the most natural thing in the world’ pressure I was drip fed by the media, stalled me from reaching out for support when I suffered from a traumatic birth (I eventually did 10 months later when I’d hit rock bottom) because I felt I was failing. Everywhere I looked were perfect images of mothers and motherhood.
Thankfully many real parenting blogs such as my own came along, naturalising and normalising parenthood. My post on overcoming trauma and my Proud in my Bikini campaigns contributed to that honest dialogue about pregnancy and birth.
Those pieces reached (and hopefully) helped millions.
I still receive emails today from women saying they received professional help after reading how therapy changed my own life after an emergency c-section.
Now of course, that was my personal experience, and what followed was a positive elective with my second son, but whatever your birth or experience, motherhood can never be all roses (or wreaths of roses as in Bey’s case) and unicorns when you have kids, because that’s impossible.
Yes, Beyoncé could be having the time of her life right now 27/4 but I doubt it because despite her celebrity status, she’s still a human who grew two babies and her hormones are as cray as the rest of us.
Yes, we know has a whole team (or ten) to help her with her kids, and that shoot itself will have had a professional team behind it, but it’s one tiny slice of her life right now and is not the norm for us all. The problem with her reach is that because she ‘speaks’ to so many, it can quickly become a mainstream narrative on new motherhood. It can set women up to fail or feel like they are.
Just because one mum (who reaches billions) is representing motherhood in this way (only positive) doesn’t make it a universal truth/depiction on motherhood. It’s unlikely anyone would look like her after babies and without a team creating this image.
With power comes responsibility and whilst positive imagery is beautiful and vital, Bey seems to consistently only show a positive, strong side to motherhood which is one-sided. My only hope is that it doesn’t make other mums feel inadequate if they don’t seem to share in that experience.
In short, please don’t look at this photo and feel you’re failing in any way because you might  have a mumtum 4 years later (as I do) or if you feel like crap because your babies won’t sleep, or stop screaming and need you a break from everyone, because we’ve all been there and I reckon so has Beyoncé (even if she doesn’t want you to know it).

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14 Responses

  1. Rebecca

    Im of the opinion that if I had enough money to make myself feel fabulous after giving birth with such a magnificent celebration of what my body has achieved and to try and boost my self confidence a little (as we all know it is a terrible time for feeling pretty horrendous about our beaten and torn selves!0 then I would totally do exactly the same! Its probably helped her overcome many of the cray emotions… I know it would have certainly helped me feel more ‘myself’ after giving birth; get myself all dolled up and looking fabulous with my bubbas… I’d love that! <3 #brilliantblogposts

    • Honest Mum

      Love this take on it as I’d never thought of it that way. I do wish though that the motherhood narrative wasn’t so one sided when it came to stars. I want more realism generally.

  2. Multicultural Motherhood

    I much prefer honesty than glamourisation. In fact, I was praised recently by a commenter on one of my blog posts for explaining how an activity really happened (with my 5 year old walking off bored half way through) rather than gloss over it and pretend everything went perfectly. #brillblogposts
    Multicultural Motherhood recently posted…Interview With Author Charlotte OlsonMy Profile

  3. Tooting Mama

    C’mon where’s the hair you don’t have time to wash, the vomit, the poo, the piles of nappies…. of course the army of nannies doh!

    Agree with you, I’m in team Adele’s camp. She was refreshingly honest about motherhood and that was great. We all have the same struggles!

    Motherhood came late for me adopting two older kids, and had to be one of the toughest things I had done! And the good times took a long time coming!

    And I bet Beyonce had bad days too!
    Tooting Mama recently posted…Dear teacher is my adopted child in your class?My Profile

  4. mummyhereadnthere

    ugh… I be honest not fan of Beyonce, think she is overrated, clearly she is a product now, I bet she just the rest of us but she has that little more help. I think people forget that like everything on the internet all we see is a snap shot, it is not reality X #brilliantblogposts

  5. Michelle Frank | Flipped-Out Food

    I hadn’t seen this photo of Beyoncé before, and I have to say that my gut response was “BAHAHAHAHAAA! Riiiiiggggghhhht.” I’m mom of 1 and 1/2 kids (that’s 50%-time stepmom of 3. See what I did there?). Even though I did not give birth to our kids, they can run me ragged. I am grateful that I did not have to deal with the post-partum depression and/or anxiety that many moms do. Even so, my version of motherhood looks like messy bun and yoga pants! Okay, okay: I do occasionally blow out the hair and go glam. 😛

  6. Michelle

    Spot on! I am no earth mother and will continue to share my story about my tough journey I’ve had as a mother. #brillblogposts
    Michelle recently posted…Be fearless in the pursuit of happinessMy Profile

  7. Jo Allison / Jo's Kitchen Larder

    This photo is just ridiculous and over the top as is Bey herself. Obviously she is unable to drop her showbiz persona even with babes in arms and treats it as another opportunity to show her perfect image. It is just a photograph and I look at it, smile and think “Yeah righ”… and rush off to the bathroom as my three year old screams at the top of his lungs “Mummy, I’ve just done a poo” 🙂 Wiping bottoms, that’s real stuff! x
    Jo Allison / Jo’s Kitchen Larder recently posted…White Chocolate & Almond Blondies with RaspberriesMy Profile

  8. Maria | passion fruit, paws and peonies

    My children are grown now. Moved out and falling in love, talking about having babies themselves. I worry so much about the unrealistic image motherhood can have. Fortunately there are women, like you and others, who aren’t afraid to bust through the imagery. Well done Vicki! #Brilliantblogposts
    Maria | passion fruit, paws and peonies recently posted…Private Cooking Class or Private Chef Dinner in Tuscany?My Profile

  9. Susie/So Happy In Town

    As you so rightly say, it’s a fairytale photo in a fairytale world, not in the real world. The real world photo would be crying babies, crying mummy, a muslin flung over one shoulder with baby puke on it, and Bey would be in her pjs, boobs probably leaking and a hideous maternity bra poking through. I love Adele’s honesty because it makes us all feel that we’re all in this together which is what your blog is so good at doing, Vicki, and I really hope mine does too. Of course there are good times, but there also lots of sh*t times and it’s OK because that’s life and us mothers are all going through the same things. #brillblogposts
    Susie/So Happy In Town recently posted…The S.H.I.T. Interview: Author Tor UdallMy Profile

    • Honest Mum

      Thanks Susie, your’s absolutely shows the tougher times with the good and that’s why blogging is so vital. If I’d seen this picture after the birth of my first child I would have felt even worse than I did. I’m not saying we can’t show artistic pictures of ourselves with our kids but I do think stars have a responsibility to be honest about motherhood and to depict and discuss it candidly x

  10. Angela Milnes

    It is juts a photo but it’s crazy how a picture can impact people and sometimes cause people to feel less worthy as mothers. I like the shot but it is not at all realistic of motherhood.

  11. Victoria - Lylia Rose

    I don’t look or take notice of this rubbish! It’s very styled and hopefully people will realise this is JUST a photo shoot, not a reflection of a lifestyle as a mum. I also shout daily, often more than once: ‘can you just leave me alone for 5 minutes to *pee/eat/clean/shower/read something/wash up/brush my hair/get dressed* !! Motherhood is full on and there is never a break! But as stressful as it is, I wouldn’t change it for the world 🙂
    Victoria – Lylia Rose recently posted…Blog Giveaway: £2.50 Jewellery Sale and Win a Handbag! #winitwednesdayMy Profile

    • Honest Mum

      This! The thing is when I was a first time mum, that photo would have made me feel even more isolated than I did already. I really want to see more realism from A listers etc!


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