23rd May 2019
To be a new mum is to almost have your life begin again. You are no longer responsible for simply your choices but every subsequent one which now also affects your new baby. The nerves, the lack of sleep, the late-night feeds, exhaustion – there’s so much to worry about, it seems unfathomable that you might be judged for any choices made as a first-time parent.
It always remains a sad thing to see women passing judgement on other women for their life choices, but it still happens regardless. Motherhood is a particular topic that never fails to generate debate and discussion, and women can bear the brunt of backlash if, for example, they do or don’t advocate breastfeeding. Or if they have reached a later life stage and have chosen not to have children. And it’s still a problem; 61% say they’ve experienced mum-shaming. Celebrity mums are an obvious target, they live much of their lives in the public eye so some can feel they deserve to be open to criticism.
This is what actress Amy Schumer has found herself in the middle of this week.
Related: ‘I can’t help but feel pressure. None of my friends seem to find parenting so difficult’
It’s the same about the tetchy subject of when mothers make the choice to return to work – how soon is too soon? There is no right or wrong answer; it’s simply when a mum feels the time is right for both her and baby, but plenty have opinions to the contrary.
After giving birth to her first child just two weeks ago, Schumer took to Instagram to announce that she was “back” as she posted an image of her performing stand-up.
One commenter said, “Already???? That’s insane!!! And inhumane. Contract or not you need to be allowed at least 6 weeks for maternity.” “Take some time” advised strangers from the corners of the internet. “Didn’t you birth a human like 5 minutes ago?” asked another.
The backlash, though taken in its stride by Schumer (as you’ll see below), is unfair.
She’s one new mum who is accurately showing the realities of motherhood; she’s back on stage while still doing all the nitty-gritty details from her new mum life —and that includes sharing a photo of herself using what nearly all new mums use: a breast pump. It’s the unfiltered, very real side of life as a new mum, which should be the subject of praise and conversation.
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No woman deserves to be shamed for her choices, full stop. Even actress Selma Blair felt the need to address the comments, praising her for her multi-tasking parenting skills. “Who the fudge would shame a mom for doing what she does?” Selma commented, adding, “and how the hell did you do it? #schumerwomen.”
Actress Emily Blunt also spoke out of the immense pressures put upon when it comes to motherhood and parenting, speaking of the “mommy cult” that can exist between some.
“I think there is huge societal pressure on women when it comes to motherhood, this sort of mummy cult that goes on,” Blunt said previously. “And I think it sort of makes women feel that they have to be a bit defensive about the choices that they make, whether they want to be a mother, whether they don’t, whether they want to breastfeed, whether they don’t. I could go on and on.
Related: Peaceful parenting: Who has time for that?
“In the domestic world, I think it’s when women can be a bit cruel about each other, more so than any other environment.”
It’s women who bear the brunt of such criticism; new fathers it seems are free to make this choice judgement-free. Schumer’s birth coincided with royal baby Archie – and all those comments which saw Prince Harry targeted the same way when he returned to his royal duties only three days after Meghan Markle had given birth to his son where almost nowhere to be found.
Parenting is hard enough without shame and judgement, Schumer is taking it all in her stride. That is what should be praised.
Main photograph: @AmySchumer
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