Are mums more competitive than most? While we may have all experienced a well-concealed humblebrag from time to time, or given some side-eye to the latest glamorous Instagram post from a friend, are parents particularly susceptible to behaviour that sends us all racing for the title of ‘World's Best Mum’? This is certainly the viewpoint taken by Mayim Bialik, former Blossom star and actor in hit US sitcom The Big Bang Theory, who in a recent video on her Facebook page called out what she perceives to be an unhealthy obsession mothers have with sizing each other up.
She argues the concept that women can ‘have it all’ has created a culture of competition that forces parents to start rivalling each other on topics as strange as how quickly your baby is gaining weight, to who suffered most during their labour.
The actor, who regularly vlogs about her experiences as a parent and writes about them on her website Grok Nation, explains that she thinks there is a solution to this problem:
“My fantasy would be that we find more meaningful things to connect about as a society and especially as mums… What if we could connect more deeply with each other and use the information that we get from each other to enrich our experiences and strengthen our bonds? Let’s get back to a model of comradery that reduces competition, fosters friendship and empathy and increases the success of a society that is built on the foundational principles of woman-to-woman support which has sustained our species for so long so well.”
Read more: Are you a victim of mum-shaming?
But some commenters have accused Mayim of not taking her own advice. In the introduction to her video she describes a mum’s group she visited shortly after the birth of her first child, where she explains she had such a negative experience she left in tears.
However, a number of viewers felt that in her description she mocks the other mothers attending the group for being different to her (namely, having time for a manicure when at the time she barely had time for a shower), and for asking questions whose answers Mayim implies are obvious or frivolous.
Facebook user Rebecca McBride Wilcox branded the video as “insufferable” and “shaming a bunch of women you met for 5 minutes”. She went on to write: “The only one who tore these women down was YOU. I think you ought to turn that spotlight right back around to yourself.”
“I can't imagine you intended it, but the opening came across as very judgmental. Are you saying that people who get manicures are competitive and judgmental?” another commenter, Leslie Lesnick Dahl, asked.
Yet many fans reacted by thanking Mayim for describing an experience they’ve had often in their life as a parent, where we’re all looking for support and acceptance but can be left instead feeling unsure and ashamed.
Mayim herself has since responded to the negative reviews with a post reading: "I am not surprised that my last YouTube video, which I made in order to explain how moms can be less competitive, was met with plenty of accusations that I am “mom bragging “ because I stated that I breastfed and used cloth diapers. All of these comments of women feeling I am shaming them makes my point exactly: if everything we say as a simple statement of fact with no judgment implied or asserted offends people who didn’t breastfeed or use cloth diapers , how do we expect to progress our sisterhood? My choices don’t mean yours are bad or not valid. I don’t think I’m better for being a breastfeeding cloth diapering Elimination Communication vegan sling user. Those are just things about me that are not a judgment. Women: come on! Can’t we all just get along!? Or try!?"
Perhaps the lesson of the video, which has been watched over 2 million times, and its reception is that as mums we can be more critical than we realise and that seeing each other’s perspectives is a skill we can all work on.
Watch the video here and tell us what you think in the comments.
Image source: Mayim Bialik/Facebook