Dear Heidi Montag,
I write this open letter to you with no malice. Its intent is not meant to be cruel or hurtful, nor is it intended to sound like an unwarranted, harsh judgment. Alternatively, this letter is just a simple plea to you, if you can momentarily try to see things from another perspective.
Please hear me when I say that I agree that our children are our “greatest joy” and “blessing[s]” and that being a parent is a “powerful experience.” I am also fond of the fact that you have this newfound and increased love, support, and appreciation for women. You are correct that motherhood takes strength. You are correct that motherhood takes heart. You are right that women are extraordinary and you are correct that parenting is amazingly rewarding.
However, I have to make a note of this; my humble opinion which I in no way tout as being the “right” view. I simply feel that I have a unique perspective on your image, which you chose to share with the world as if to say you are standing in solidarity with moms everywhere.
Your photo speaks to women, as does your caption about it. Your photo talked to me, probably to a lot of women who currently are or have breastfed their children, and perhaps even to those mothers who didn't. For me, as a woman who breastfed all three of my children for as long as was appropriate for us, your remarkably staged picture of you breastfeeding in your impeccable peach colored, expensive nightgown does not feel as supportive as I think you would’ve hoped for, or as I would have liked.
I understand that many women can afford or prefer Victoria's Secret over Walmart, and fancy lingerie and intimates as opposed to anything from Target. BUT, I can’t help feeling that your stain-free-from-breastmilk-leakage nightgown, with a full face of highly contoured makeup and your pups so obediently placed next to you, doesn’t feel real to me, and therefore neither does your support.
Am I making sense? I don't say that to be snarky or condescending; I genuinely ask because I've got flippin' #mombrain three times over and sometimes I can be a bit incoherent in my thinking or conversation.
Listen, I’m the mom for all moms, and I try not to be critical of strangers, so please take this as some unsolicited advice from a non-judgmental, average mother of three. I am merely offering my constructive criticism (which you can take right to the trash if you desire); if you are going to show support for women and motherhood in general, it may be better received if you are more relatable.
I would relate to you breastfeeding in your work attire while you multitask a phone call.
I would relate to you breastfeeding in bed around 2am.
I would relate to you breastfeeding with a ‘boppy' that you can't seem to fit comfortably around you.
I would relate to you crying in pain from your cracked or bleeding nipples.
I would relate to you cringing because breastfeeding is occasionally painful.
I would relate to you wearing ANYTHING OTHER THAN WHAT YOU ARE WEARING because I would venture to guess you don't walk around your house in that.
I would relate to you wearing anything that is stained with leaked breast milk.
I would relate to your face with no makeup or just a little make-up because that is all you have time for.
I would relate to your dogs trying to lick or smell your sweet angelic baby.
I would relate to a messy bun or a braid, or at minimum hair that looks less “done.”
I would relate to the bags under your eyes.
I would relate to smile lines on your face.
The fact is that I would even relate more to an outtake from your photo shoot, as I guarantee you there is one that more accurately depicts your life and the life of so many of us mamas.
Do you know what happened at the newborn photo shoot for my oldest daughter when she was just nine days old? She sh*t on my husband. Yep, like a geyser. And gosh darn it, I wish the photographer had caught my little's not-so-little volcano eruption all over daddy, but she and I were laughing so hard she put down her camera. And then you know what I did, I peed a little. Yep, I couldn't control my bladder, and I pissed my pants.
Now, that is real, and that is relatable. That is the kind of image I wish you would have shown me with your caption supporting mothers.
But guess what, Heidi? I'm wrong, and I suck. I suck for judging you. Because, the truth is, that as much as I am intending this open letter to be non-judgmental, I do recognize that it actually may be.
So, let me share this with you:
I relate to wanting to look and feel beautiful — and you did that wonderfully in your image.
I relate to wanting to stage my family photos because it is rare to have a “good” picture of me with my children.
I relate to wanting to see myself in a way I would like to remember myself.
I relate to wanting things to look and be perfect, or close to it.
I do relate to you. Did you hear that? I do relate to you.
Motherhood is a crazy beast. Parenthood is a crazy mother (pun entirely intended). My point being, in writing this, I have realized that you are not the problem, I am the problem. Or, maybe, we both are the problem, but it seems we are also the solution.
It is impossible not to compare yourself to the woman, wife, mother, or person standing next to you, across the street, or on social media. Sometimes I think we need to compare because in doing so, we prompt and drive ourselves to improve.
With my little open letter here, I guess I am hoping that you can see where I am coming from and possibly want to improve how you relate with your fans, readers, and the general public. For me, well, thanks to you, I realize that I'm kind of jealous of those, like yourself, who look more perfect than me in a picture. That is about me; that is my character flaw, and it has absolutely nothing to do with you.
You know what's real and relatable about motherhood? The fact that all of us mothers are struggling with the same sh*t, and we are all just doing what feels comfortable for us and brings us joy, and I can certainly relate to that.
An Average Mother of Three
This article originally appeared on EverydayFamily, Inc.