Jada Pinkett Smith discusses the “the new epidemic” of mum-shaming in the latest episode of Red Table Talk, co-hosted with daughter Willow Smith and mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris.
Their guests on the show include Ashley Graham, the model who gave birth to her first child in January this year, and Jessica Alba, actor, businesswoman and mother to three children aged two, nine and 12.
Mom Shaming: The New Epidemic
With mom shaming at an all-time, @Jessica Alba and @Ashley Graham come to the Table to share their experiences as frequent targets. Jada shares her own stories of being mom shamed and Willow reveals how that affected her. Plus, RTT Favorite, Dr. Ramani reveals the devastating effects mom shaming can have.
Posted by Red Table Talk on Monday, October 12, 2020
The New York Times reported mum-shaming – the act of criticising a mother for her parenting skills – has seen a sharp uptick recently, in an article headlined ‘Mom Shaming Is Running Rampant During the Pandemic’.
While the Red Table Talk covers a myriad of aspects of parenting and being mum-shamed – for example, being criticised for working too much instead of being with your children – it also specifically covers breastfeeding.
Pinkett Smith asks Graham about an Instagram photo of her breastfeeding her son Isaac in a cafe, which became a particular target for negative comments.
For Graham, the comments just didn’t make sense – but they still hurt. She says: “My whole career is based off being sexy and my breasts have been on the forefront of many magazine covers. Then flip to my baby is there sucking on them, I think people just had to switch their minds – but they are multi-purposeful.”
Alba has experienced both sides of shaming when it comes to breastfeeding. She’s been criticised for breastfeeding her son in a shop, as well as for a picture she posted on Instagram feeding her child a bottle. “You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t,” Alba says on Red Table Talk.
Graham and Alba aren’t alone in their experiences of mum shaming. A 2017 report from CS Mott Children’s Hospital in the US found 61% of mothers of children aged zero to five have been criticised for their parenting choices, with comments most often coming from family. As well as discipline and sleep, breast- vs bottle-feeding is one of the most common topics for criticism.
For Alba, a lot of this stems from personal insecurities. “Most people who have something to say, it’s because they’re so insecure and it’s more like them being ashamed of themselves… and for whatever reason, the natural reaction is to pull other people apart,” she says.
It’s likely the stresses of the pandemic have magnified all these issues, which could explain why some people think mum shaming is more prominent than it was before. On Red Table Talk, psychologist Dr Ramani Durvasula explains: “Now we’re in a pandemic, so the insecurity paired with the uncertainty – it is such a volatile combination, because everyone’s insecure now, and when people are insecure, they lash out.”
The show has obviously resonated with viewers – it was only aired yesterday, and it has already garnered 28,000 likes and 3,400 comments on Facebook, with many women sharing their own experiences of being mum-shamed.
One Facebook user writes: “I love this conversation ❤ For all of you moms that have felt mom-shamed, please consider that no one can shame you without your permission. No one can make you feel anything. You choose your thoughts and beliefs and the emotions attached.”