Man Repeller founder Leandra Medine Cohen welcomed twin baby girls in early March. Almost instantly, she faced a barrage of criticism whenever she posted a selfie; comments like, “It’s really not helpful for other women who are struggling with their self image 🙄 grow up” appear regularly on her page.
On Friday, Cohen took to her site to write a moving essay about the pressure that moms face on Instagram. Now eight weeks postpartum — and very much on maternity leave — Cohen confesses that she loves getting dressed every day to take a picture to share on Instagram.
She writes, “For some, this activity may seem ludicrous: Aren’t I in pain after giving birth? Hasn’t motherhood changed me? Why do I fit into my old clothes so soon? But the answers to these questions are irrelevant because they are symptomatic of a larger, overarching query: Why am I so compelled to post selfies in the first place?”
Who she is — a selfie lover — didn’t change after she gave birth, Cohen notes. And yet, the uptick in negative comments made her realize, “there are expectations tethered to becoming a mother, the least of which is a newfangled sense of selflessness that is supposed to cut your egotism in half.”
She realized the internet seemed to favor her when she “was in a darker place” — and therefore, she’s almost “searching for reasons to publicly struggle.”
(And, to clarify, Cohen struggles — like all moms do. Recently she found herself crying as her twins refused breast milk. She wondered if she should post that to Instagram too, as if it sharing hardships would “justify the rest of [her] fanciful Instagram grid.”)
Is the pressure to be “real” on social media making Insta-famous moms like Cohen worry about sharing their accomplishments? For feeling good about the way they look, or about their outfit?
We at Kveller feel moms have every right to share selfies and post vain pictures of themselves, if that’s what they want to do. Instagram should be whatever moms want it to be — selfies, pictures of babies, and anything and everything in between.
Please keep sharing, Leandra.
Header image via Leandra Medine Cohen on Instagram.