For longer than I’d like to admit, I’ve had a folder on my Google Reader named “mom blogs” where pictures of cupcakes, strollers, and babies dominated. As a result, I’ve also helped (a little) in making these blogs a success.
I still can’t really articulate what I find so fascinating about these women. Most of the time, I did not find myself relating to their lives at all, and I’m pretty sure I don’t share the same political views as these women. Maybe it’s because their lives seemed so simple, so pretty (and full of pretty things), and so absent of conflict or turmoil that I found it incomprehensible yet intriguing. And those pictures of babies are pretty cute too, though the thought of becoming a mother myself is still a bit terrifying.
In sum: certain popular “mom” blogs had become a bit of an embarrassing guilty pleasure / “hate-read” that my friends and loved ones liked to gently mock. Sometimes I’d go into a phase where I got too busy or too weirded out so I’d stop checking them. But they still remained in my Reader.
But today, I deleted the “mom blog” category from my Reader altogether, and I’m here to tell you about my embarrassing habit.
I always felt uneasy, being someone who identifies as a feminist, to read about something that can only be described as heightened performance of traditional femininity (the smiling babies, adoring looks to husbands, dresses, cupcakes, etc). Thankfully, I found out a while ago I was not the only feminist-identified person who reads these blogs (which made me feel okay about my dirty habit). But recently, my unease got to a new level when I recently watched a strange “sponsored video” that a very famous mom blogger made, featuring her baby holding ridiculous instruction signs like “MIX INGREDIENTS TOGETHER” with a smile.
Sure, I’ve seen more blatant signs of capitalism before; I’m not naive. But somehow, this particular video just rubbed me the wrong way. I understand a baby’s cuteness has indirectly led to making money for the blog and attracting sponsors. But implicating an infant so blatantly into a directly sponsored content without his or her real consent or cognizance was really jarring. On the scale of parents exploiting their children, this incident does not place very highly, but it was still a trigger that made me reflect on this habit of mine. I started thinking about the concept of the “mom blog economy” where I, as a reader, am making these women money by clicking and subscribing to the updates of their highly traditional, feminized, and very materialistic lifestyle.
I don’t mean to paint the category of “mom blogs” with broad strokes. There are blogs written by mothers that are more thoughtful and politically engaged, and offer honest reflections and hardships of being a working parent. While I had read the aforementioned progressive mom blogs occasionally, they were not read as frequently as the other ones with pretty pictures.
The emblematic of “mom blogs” are not the ones with words and nuance, but rather, pretty pictures by (white) rich people. This is not an original insight and I am certainly not the first one to raise the privileged nature of successful bloggers, but it’s something I have become complicit in as a reader, despite my justification of my habits as “ironic” or “guilty pleasures” or whatever else I said to other people.
The loss of one subscriber will mean nothing to such a popular blogs. And I’m not even sure why I’m writing this, because I don’t think what I said would affect these popular bloggers in any way.Instead, someone will inevitably say to me: “calm down, these are just blogs! If you don’t like what you read, just don’t read it”. And that’s exactly it — these are just blogs, and I should spend my precious time and energy on other things that make me feel less guilty, and more fulfilled.