Make Motherhood Diverse: ‘We knew there was an appetite but didn’t know people were starving.’
Eighteen posts, twelve unique stories shared, a handful of press features, countless emails, and over 2300 followers - the first two weeks of Make Motherhood Diverse has both surprised and humbled us.
We were confident there was an appetite for it. The unkindness of the Mumsnet thread should never be excused but running underneath the nastiness were undertones of Who are you? You don’t look like us. Why have you been selected to represent us? which made it clear that many women were not feeling represented by the image of motherhood so often portrayed in the media, and even more intimately on Instagram.
And then, of course, was the question this all started with - Where are all the black mums on Instagram? - asked by Candice in a blog post back in May. The lack of ethnic diversity and inclusion in the mum-blogging world was a conversation I’d been having in a small way for a while, but I’d been unsure where to take it. That blog post, a subsequent Stories chat and an Instagram post further and Candice had galvanized my energy and firmed my resolve - we had to do something.
Of course, it’s only a hashtag - some might say a social media stunt - but the only certainty was that by doing nothing, we would definitely achieve nothing.
At that point, we knew people were hungry for it but we had no idea that people were starving. Our simple aim was to be a space where all stories of motherhood are shared equally and authentically in the voices of the people living them, but it has appealed to far more of you, far more quickly than we ever predicted.
Already the stories that you have shared have demonstrated the everyday extraordinariness of motherhood and the often hidden challenges that it presents.
From mothering with a disability to mothering a child with additional needs, to abortion, and the relative privileges of light, or white, skin, some posts have been serious and hard-hitting. The reception of these posts has been warm as people expressed their pleasure at seeing a mirror being held up to their own lives, while other comments revealed open minds willing to learn.
Other posts have been expressions of the joys that motherhood brings. We’re all familiar with the challenges of raising the future but sometimes it’s right to reflect on ways we win when we become mothers.
And then there have been the posts that have transcended barriers and made it clear what we have in common. The story of interference from people unwilling to accept that one child is enough; the story from a mother questioning whether she is doing enough to pass on her culture to her children - these were stories that spoke to so many of you, across boundaries of class and race, income and appearance.
And that makes us proud.
Because if Make Motherhood Diverse only ever brings a few women a little bit closer to each other; just makes us feel less alone and isolated, then that is an achievement to be proud of.
Of course, we’re aiming higher and wider than that - I know I’m not the only one who saw Candice’s photoshopped hug from Oprah…!
We want to expose and explore the idea that motherhood, like life, is not a level playing field. Whether it is race or disability, sexuality, income or any number of other factors - some mothers face significantly greater challenges than others. And where those issues intersect with each other the obstacles only multiply.
We want to see brands and advertisers trusting the intelligence of their audience and representing the true diversity of motherhood - in the words of Candice, “If you’re willing to take my money, be willing to represent me”.
We want to see panels at motherhood events giving a platform to those who do not fit the white, middle-class, heteronormative, able-bodied mould.
We want to amplify the voices of those who too often are not heard.
And in and amongst all of that going on, of course, the “typical” mum is welcomed. All we are asking is that this version of motherhood is presented in its true form - as part of the picture, not its whole.
But then, after all the pontificating is done with, the most important part of this journey is you. Without you, Make Motherhood Diverse does not exist, does not represent anyone, so please keep the stories coming.
To submit a story email MMD at firstname.lastname@example.org including your story (maximum 2200 characters) and an accompanying image of your choice. Due to the high volume of emails we receive, we’re unfortunately unable to respond in person to every email but keep your eyes peeled for your notifications to pop up!