It’s a fact: we have all started using Instagram beyond our possibilities. No one has such a perfect relationship or such a feng shui home, paint shops can’t think of any more pastel colour palettes, low cost airlines are making things more and more difficult for us to IG our trips and there’s no Valencia filter that can cover those crow’s feet.
The only way to survive in this jungle of posers seems to be having a kid and over-exposing him/her in social networks, using him/her as an extension of yourself and turn what up to now was your personal profile into an InstaMum.
The mum topic in Instagram is hell for several reasons. The pioneers were “La liga de la Leche” (The league of milk), a “sisterhood” that might make a lot of sense in certain countries, but not so much in Spain, where there’s not a real problem with the fact of breastfeeding your baby anywhere you want. Hey, wait a minute! I know what you’re thinking, we’ve all read thousands of posts on Facebook saying, “I was chastised at a restaurant or I was kicked out of a museum.” Bad, really bad! There are backward bigots everywhere, yes. But from that to #BreastfeedingInPublic in the weirdest places there are plenty shades of grey in between. Humans breastfeed their babies, cats do too, and there’s no need to photographically document each take. If you wore a burka, well, then it would be interesting (logistically, above all). If you did it in Qatar, well, then too. But doing it at a Barceloneta restaurant or in your cousin’s wedding and posting it as if you had gained voting rights for women, well, it just won’t do, I’m afraid.
Other prelates within InstaMum are the Talibans on carrying and the radical defenders of attachment parenting. You don’t need to belong to both, although they usually go hand in hand. It seems now that carrying kids in a non “ergo” sling might destroy their hips for life, and careful with carrying them head on because that might cause them such emotional stress that they will need years of Gestalt therapy to get over it. I swear by my mother, who never carried me in a sling but in her arms, that I have read really aggressive comments on this in IG, with a degree of verbal abuse that has made me consider what kind of education these mums will end up giving their well-carried babies regarding tolerance towards other people’s opinions.
But if there’s a thing I’m really worried about is the commercial use of children in Instagram. I’m not talking about kids who work as models or actors/actresses, that’s another story and even whether we like it or not, they are part of a regulated industry and their job can be done professionally and their rights are respected. And neither about of mums who post pics of their kids in social networks to share them with friends or followers, normal pictures of children playing, doing funny stuff or celebrating their birthday.
The problem comes from those girls who have stopped posting their own outfits and latest Flying Tiger acquisitions to start uploading their kids’ looks and telling us up to the last detail what nappies they use in the hope that brands will give them freebies and they will become mum influencers thanks to their son’s or daughter’s image.
The pattern is repeated: babies on top of a bed, a seemingly cute post in which mummy tells how amazing the baby’s two first weeks have been, and then the mentioning of dozens of brands. From the colour of the wall paint, to the blanket, the teddy bear, the baby shoes and the dummy. Then you “tap” on the pic and the face of the baby is hidden behind all those tags included on the image. Oh! And don’t forget about the millions of hashtags for the image to be viewed even more, of the kind #Instakids #Coolkids #Kidsfashion #Kidsofinstagram.
I sincerely recommend these mums to take some minutes to read the comments under this kind of #. You don’t need to be working in the police cyber crime division to know that they’re full of likes and comments from perverts with private profiles that tag each other with such hashtags in these kinds of posts. And I’m telling you that the brand of the crafty bib is not what they’re interested in. #Disgusting
But exposing your kid’s image in social networks open profiles is not only serious because of paedophiles, also because you’re using them to increase your relevance within those networks. Have we all gone mad? There’s even the absurd trend of giving your kid a hashtag (as if it wasn’t difficult enough to choose a real name) before s/he’s born! Yes, the unborn have their place in social networks under things like #LittlePanda #LittleBallofHappiness.
Attachment parenting friends, we know that maternity leave in Spain is absolutely insufficient in length (and unfair since it’s not compulsory or transferrable to men) and also that maternity, in a patriarchal society, is understood as a female responsibility only and as a barrier in our professional development. Since we know it, let’s not waste so much time looking for the perfect framing and Instagram photo, or seeking acceptation as mothers by counting Likes, because you only have, if you’re lucky, four months to enjoy being with your baby full time. Surely if you enjoy them live they will be much more gratifying than remembering them through Facebook’s memories.
PS: When I started thinking about this article, the editor of O warned me we wouldn’t be able to use any real names or photographs from the IG profiles I had been following in my research because it could be considered a crime using children’s images without permission. Exposing a reality without being able to document it for fear of being sued is a bit of a paradoxical tongue twister, but we do believe in the defence of children rights and in not using their image for commercial purposes, even if they’re not our own kids, because the fact that they’re your kids doesn’t mean that they’re your property.