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.
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).