That title up there? Is that okay with you?
Because it's true.
You know the Mary Kay lady stereotype well, right? The one a dear friend of mine deals with every day, since she's a Mary Kay lady?
Still makin' people pretty? Do you drive a pink Cadillac? *wink wink*
All the questions asked of her are tinged with that patronizing tone of humor, as if she's pretending at something. As if she's doing something cute and silly most likely because she can't do anything else.
My friend's car is not pink but it did come from Mary Kay. She's a total Mary Kay sell out. She doesn't apologize for it, she loves it. She loves her job and the women she's come to know because of it. She happens to care about moisturizing and color-matching and protecting skin from the sun. She happens to care about helping women feel just a little bit better about themselves after she tries something new with them and then spins them toward the mirror to see the shy and proud smiles fill their faces.
That's a beautiful thing, really. There's no reason to consider it less than, to compare it to other more intellectual professions. It serves my friend well no matter what she used to do, how many languages she speaks or where she's lived. I could tell you all of that and more about her life, but I shouldn't have to. I shouldn't have to defend her abilities or her intelligence simply because she's a Mary Kay lady.
She is doing what she loves to do and that's enough.
I'm a mommyblogger, but the recent so-called negative mommyblogging media hasn't bothered me. Sure, that same patronizing tone exists for us, but I can take that with a grain of salt, especially when I realize that it happens to most mothers, sadly, no matter what they do "on the side," or how well they do it. Mommyblogging is just simply misunderstood out of ignorance or a skewed perspective for dramatic effect, and that may always be the case.
The reality is that, just like my Mary Kay lady friend, we mommybloggers are all together under the same inaccurate and sometimes accurate stereotype. Either we accept that or we don't, because it's not going anywhere.
What I'm having trouble understanding is the reaction of many mommybloggers who have argued in response to negative media attention with a stomp of the foot and a, Hey! Not all of us are just posting craft tutorials and photos of our kids at the park! Some of us are published writers and we're powerful marketers and some of us go to the White House or get interviewed on television!
That is all true and even good, and I'm honestly proud to be here with bloggers who have these success stories to tell, but honestly, I'm a little confused. What is so wrong with sharing a recipe or a craft? What makes sharing photos and potty training stories too cutesy or wrong? Why is it less than? Compared? Why is it embarrassing to sit alongside other women, other mothers, who do blogging that way? With this reaction, the message that is sent is that if a mommyblogger is not a "real writer," she is pretending at something. It's as if she's doing something that's only cute and silly, most likely because she can't do anything else, when the reality is that maybe she's doing exactly what she'd like to be doing and that is enough.
When we react like that when we feel patronized, the point is missed, the fight for naught, because maybe there's nothing wrong with the mommyblogging stereotype in the first place, just like there's absolutely nothing less respectable about just selling Mary Kay instead of teaching Spanish, my friend's real story. Or being just a stay at home mommyblogger instead of a social worker, my real story.
I'm tired of the hesitation I feel in an effort to not be something, to avoid a mommyblogging stereotype I have no reason to avoid. I'm tired of thinking that every post has to be some magical, well-written, intelligent and insightful gift to the world wide web for it to be considered valuable. Because sometimes I may just feel like rambling about potty training, or maybe I just want to share this with you and so I will:
This picture is creativity and life and a little piece of divine art, in my biased opinion, and I know many of you will see it that way too. Nothing to be ashamed of there. So some days I may share something just as simple and lovely as that, and another day I may write something thoughtful that maybe even borders on profound. And then maybe you will say it knocked your socks off, like you've been so kind to say before. (That is, if my fingers up and do that mind of their own thing, pounding at the keyboard without me getting in the way.) Any which way I mommyblog on a given day, it's valuable because it's mine and I love it.
So you there, with your recipe for fluffier pancakes? I'm glad you're here. And you with your simple and hilarious stories about everyday things? I'm glad you're here. And you with your creative crafts? You make me feel a wee bit inferior, but I'm still glad you're here, your energy inspires me, and I'm not just saying that. I'm proud to be here with you, all of you, however you define your success.
A Mary Kay Lady on the Internet
*UPDATE* I wanted to add that I think it's perfectly fine to be frustrated with negative media attention around something you do. Everyone wants to be taken seriously. That's exactly my point. Everyone should be taken seriously if they're doing something they love.