It becomes a catch-22: “The way to create the strongest connections online is by letting your armor down and being vulnerable, but if you have to keep that armor up because you’re afraid of the comments or messages that might come in, you won’t get the very thing you were looking for. ” Roop says that’s been her exact experience—that these DMs have corrupted her relationship to social media overall, as she’s gone from connecting with other moms across the platform to retreating into her private account. “I’ve stopped using hashtags because of this,” she says. “It sucks.
These communities are important, too: recent Pew research found that 50 percent of moms say they’ve received social or emotional support about a parenting issue from online networks—and using hashtags like these is an effective way to find women in similar situations to your own. “There’s a huge amount of vulnerability as a new mom—your body is changing, your relationship to the world is changing.
Regardless of why it’s happening, “From a body-positive perspective, it’s a terrible source of bullying,” says O’Malley. “Women who follow hashtags like these, they usually have come to a place in their life—after many years of struggling—of accepting their body or learning to love their body,” she says. “To target women who are exploring the world for the first time from the perspective of ‘Hey, I like myself the way I am’—you are completely degrading that,” she says.
Women who want to sell product know this. “As soon as you hashtag #plussizemom, #newmom, #postpartummom, even #fatmom, you will get at least three of these accounts following you,” O’Malley explains. (In addition to her own account @miaomalley, O’Malley co-runs a page called @plussizebabywearing and has worked in social media professionally. ) It happens, too, whenever Brandy Casebolt, a new mom from Missouri, posts with these hashtags. “I have had body dysmorphia since my teenage years.
So once a seller has exhausted her personal network, she might turn to social media to find potential new customers—and reach moms like Andreola. “I always respond that I am not interested,” says Andreola. But the sellers push.
If there were EVER a time for MLMs to leave postpartum women alone! https://t.co/PKAvyiBY8o— mattie kahn (@mattiekahn) April 2, 2020