Dear New Mum, please blank the insta-fashion wankers…

Dear New Mum,

I haven’t written to you before, as I felt, since the rise of the angry mum blogger (a movement in which I’m loud and proud, New Mum), you’ve been a little bombarded with communication. Many of us have taken to the internet in collective reassurance having seen you looking pissed off in playgrounds, close to breakdowns at supermarket checkouts and fit to kill at Jo Jingles. And I completely commend the compassion behind all this correspondence. However, the overwhelming nature of motherhood, in all its lovely lunacy, is something I feel sufficiently covered in many-an open letter from the mum-blogging world. I’m writing to you, New Mum, because I believe there’s a growing pressure on you that’s been unchallenged for far too long now; the narcissistic, wanky world of Instagram…

Now, don’t get wrong – I do, on the whole, love Instagram. I love the sunset scenes, fancy food, beautiful babies, dinky dogs, sappy selfies – it’s often a much kinder, happier place to waste time compared to its feral, fake sister, Facebook. The wanky world to which I refer, entails the Instagrammers who exploit your good name and I believe, insecurities, New Mum. They want followers, fame and fortune, and you provide the perfect means to all that.

These wily wankers are the fashion mum bloggers: twats who enjoy posturing nonchalantly against the backdrop of a beautifully graffitied, urban wall, decked in a metallic bomber, adorned with an effortless top knot, a pop of red lipstick and gorgeous, trilby-hatted, hip-side baby. I hate them. I know it might seem I’m a little jealous, New Mum, given I can’t rock a top knot and metallic bomber without looking like an oven-ready sumo wrestler, but please believe me when I say these people are not your friends. Their bios might suggest sincere intentions; parading fashion as feminism, referencing ‘the sisterhood’ and even boasting to change, ‘the image of dressing like a mum’ – but it’s all total shit.

Look, let me be clear, maternity and breastfeeding fashion is of course a welcome change to the dingy corners of high-street shops, where a few sad rails of oversized shirts, and elasticated clown trousers hang. But this isn’t the ‘liberation’ this type of fashion fuckwit is referencing. They want to ‘free’ you from your ‘mum coat’, ‘safe sweater’ and ‘comfy Converse’. They’re not pressurising you into buying the bright, beautiful clothes credited in the extensively tagged caption below, and hanging faultlessly from their teeny, tiny frames! No, of course not! They are helping you, New Mum, to look less like the time-poor, knackered eyesore you have become since housing and birthing human life! Emily Davison might have thrown herself under a horse so we could have the right to vote, but these women are virtually hurling themselves under buggies and prams, in order to stop exhausted women swinging by New Look to buy a terrible-but-practical top.

Sure, these shrewd ‘influencers’ (*vomit emoji*), are generally running businesses, and businesses are often in the business of exploiting female insecurities. However, how would we feel if Max factor or Maybelline, for instance, launched a mum-specific promotion explicitly encouraging mothers to make more of an effort with their appearance? If they called it a ‘campaign’ on behalf of you, New Mum, and used feminism as a means to flog their slap? Would we be OK if they inferred a lack of time and new priorities, were no excuses for leaving the house without lipstick and a heavily-contoured mug? We’d see right through it! And so too, I hope, would the Advertising Standards Authority.

But of course, (as the recent, farcical Facebook hearing would indicate), the ASA can’t do much to police the vast social media in the same way it can print, television or radio. And meanwhile, brands are able to make full use of these ‘influencers’ (*middle finger emoji*), enlisting them to do the dirty work of exploiting motherhood, and all the typical anxieties that come with it, under the guise of being ‘real’ and ‘relatable’ mums. And this makes my piss boil hotter still, New Mum, because most of us couldn’t have less in common with these ‘real mums’; living in their expensive, largely London-based, houses, becoming Boden ‘ambassadors’, and employing nannies and agents to keep up with their many blog-related commitments (not a bitter embellishment, New Mum – a true fact about many of the most well-known fashion insta-wankers, acquired from my journalistic nosiness).

Feeling shit about yourself is hugely common after giving birth, New Mum. I remember looking in the mirror in the weeks after I’d had my first baby, and thinking there was some kind of mistake. Maybe it was a faulty mirror? Perhaps the lighting was unkind? Possibly my wearied eyes were deceiving me? But actually, quite simply, I’d just given birth, and my body and face were reflecting a completely different woman before me. My face looked like it had suffered a puncture, and my tits, belly and arse, hung exhausted by life, like they needed some literal downtime. Unsurprisingly, my relationship with fashion changed, and even if I’d had the time, cash and inclination, I was never going to be able to wear lamé Lycra without resembling Edina Monsoon, or Elton John’s fat, much-older, even grumpier sister.

The truth is, despite my favoured ‘mum uniform’ of predictable Breton stripes and cheap, skinny jeans, I do actually love a bit of fashion, so I can assure you it’s not the fashion world itself I take umbrage with. And I honestly don’t object to the kickbacks/ freebies/ consequent publishing deals/ whatever, these blagger-bloggers might receive in exchange for sporting clobber against a Peckham backdrop. (With my beloved print journalism industry in horrible decline, it’s genuinely quite refreshing to see people other than the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Cambridge Analytica making cash out of social media). However, when the sneaky social-media ‘sisterhood’ dress this up as emancipation, while paradoxically manipulating and pressurising women full of self-doubt and vulnerability; well, then I’m afraid I object quite a lot.

So, next time you see some dick posturing, peace-signs aloft, their dreamy Valencia-filtered feeds quietly and dangerously depleting your confidence, take a closer look, New Mum. Imagine pound signs where those ‘@’ signs are, in that brand–loaded blurb. Read their numerous declarations of ‘supporting women’, as ‘extorting women’. See the word ‘sista’ on that neon-lettered sweater evolving into ‘sucka’. Then stick your own two fingers up at this gorgeous, guileful elite – and unfollow. You, beautiful New Mum, do not need this shit in your life.

All my love,

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