Truth behind the mum shaming picture that went viral
Stop to think before you whip out your phone to snap a picture and mum shame someone. Read on to find out happened to this mum.
Imagine this. You are exhausted, stressed and fighting to keep your head above water. It doesn’t help that you are struggling to juggle a few things and when you’re in the midst of it all, someone decides to snap a picture when you momentarily let go of your child’s hand. You find your picture all over the internet and discover that you are a victim of mum shaming.
You mouth is agape but you just can’t find the words. You don’t even know how to go about defending yourself. It’s almost akin to taking someone’s words out of the full context and accusing them of defaming someone. Well most of the time, that’s what mum shaming is like!
So what happened?
And that’s exactly what happened to Molly Lensing, a mother of three, from Illinois. An image of her looking at her cell-phone screen in the Colorado airport, with her then 2-month-old daughter, Anastasia, resting on a blanket on the airport floor, was captured in 2016.
The photo was snapped when Molly and Anastasia were on their way home after a trip to visit their family. Soon enough, the picture started rapidly circulating online and not surprisingly, people started actively judging her.
She became known as the ‘woman who found her cell phone more interesting than her infant’.
Someone else posted the picture and captioned it such: Albert Einstein said, “I fear the day that technology will take on our humanity… the world will be populated by a generation of idiots”.
How did Lensing feel about the mum shaming?
Expectedly, Lensing felt that her privacy was violated and that there was more to the story than what the picture depicted.
Delta Airlines was going through a computer shut-down and her flights had been delayed multiple times. She had to keep re-booking flights and was stuck in the airport for more than 20 hours, with an infant!
Anastasia badly needed to stretch. Lensing had her in the carrier and in her arms for many hours. Her arms were tired too. “And I had to communicate with all the family members wondering where the heck we were!” Now, I bet those who were actively mum shaming Lensing, didn’t know this part of the story!
The mum shaming went on
The worst part about the incident was that the mum shaming continued for months to come. Lensing found her picture online after a few months and once someone managed to identify her by her name, she even started receiving messages!
Some people stood up for her but others berated her for being a terrible parent!
Lensing, who works as a part-time paediatric nurse, was terrified that her colleagues or bosses might come across the picture. She had recently started working on the labour floor and was worried that it might jeopardise her career and her superiors might decide that she’s not suited to work with infants. Luckily for her, it didn’t go that way!
It’s been a year and Lensing says that while on most days she does not think of the mum shaming picture, there are times when the image resurfaces on the internet and she is forced to shift her focus to more important things.
“I ignore the photos and comments and lean on those close to me who know the real me. I am powerless compared to the internet, and I know that I am the best momma to my girls,” said Lensing.
Say NO to mum shaming
Mum shaming is never acceptable. A mom blogger, Mary Katherine Backstrom, writer at Mom Babble, shared the picture and pledged her support for Lensing and others who have been victims of mum shaming.
“No, we do not snap photos of exhausted mothers in the airport and shame them publicly. This is gross and needs to stop…Don’t choose to pounce on someone in their weakest moment.”
Mum shaming also happens in Singapore. There are many incidents of viral pictures on the internet, or gossip circulating like wildfire in Facebook groups or other mum groups. We must remember that only a mother would truly understand and empathise the struggle of other mothers. As such, we should be encouraging and understanding towards other mothers and never ever be part of mum shaming!
What to do if you catch someone mum shaming
If you catch someone mum shaming, give them a gentle reminder not to do so and explain to them that what they see is never the full picture. Don’t be sanctimonious or too quick to judge another mother without understanding why she does the things she does. The only time anyone should step in is when it’s clearly a case of child abuse or a mother is endangering her child.
Mums, let’s help each other to make the journey a tad bit easier!