I read a lot of mommy blogs. I don’t follow many of them, but I come across them on Pinterest and I check them out to see if they’re any good. I’m an admitted voyeur. I love to see someone else’s living room or the cool way they dress their kids. I like getting new ideas, but mostly I think I’m just nosy.
I’ve noticed a trend on the mommy blogs. It seems that most of them are either overly self-deprecating or they’re so perfect it’s unbelievable. I don’t run across many mommy blogs that are an even mix of highlights and bloopers.
For example, take Jen Hatmaker’s blog. She wrote the book ‘Seven,’ which is making the rounds in the Christian book club circles. She is so self-deprecating that, as a new reader of her blog, I don’t understand how she can be as successful as she is if she is truly as big of a hot mess as she portrays herself to be. She makes herself out to be kind of lazy, kind of selfish and kind of a slob. She did an entire blog post about what a crappy parent she is in the summer. If all of this is true, why is she a keynote speaker at Christian conferences and getting a spot on the Today show? Something doesn’t add up.
Have you ever hung out with a group of women who sit around and talk about how ugly they are? It’ll be a group of attractive women and they will sit around, drink chardonnay and commiserate about who has the biggest muffin tops. Negative self talk is like a ticket to enter the circle. ‘I’ve gotten so FAT,’ they will say, ‘I’ve gained 3 pounds!’ These women are not fat and they know they’re not fat. But pretending to think they’re fat is how they bond with other women.
I think some mommy blogs trade on this currency. The women writing them are attractive and successful, but they play up their weakness to appeal to women who form bonds over shared weakness. It’s almost like the bloggers don’t trust their readers to respond well to success. Jen Hatmaker makes sure we know that, even though she appeared on the Today show, she was so unprepared as to not even be wearing underwear.
What does this say about women? Can we not be happy for each other? Do we have to share cellulite to be friends? Can we be friends with the girl who doesn’t have any cellulite?
It saddens me to think that female bloggers hesitate to put their success in the forefront for fear of alienating their readers. It points to the competitive spirit that thrives among women, even in the church. It’s as if women have to say to each other, ‘Don’t worry, there’s nothing to be jealous of; I’m as big of a hot mess as you are.’ When meeting new women, whether in real life or online, we have to confirm that we are not a threat.
For some reason, women take pleasure in each other’s failures. We take comfort in finding out that another seemingly more successful woman actually has a whole nest of problems wriggling around like newly hatched snakes. It seems to be in the nature of women to examine each other until we find a flaw. ‘She is thin, beautiful, outgoing and makes a lot of money. But she’s on her third marriage.’ Aaah, there it is, that thing that places her squarely back on our level. She’s just an ordinary girl after all.
I’m learning that the sign of a truly secure woman is the ability to delight in another’s victory. When I can watch someone get exactly what I want and be genuinely happy for her, then I will consider myself to have accomplished a rare feat.
Being secure with myself means that I’m comfortable not only in a group of women with similar salaries and attractiveness, but also surrounded by women who are thinner and richer than me. Will I notice that I have the biggest thighs? Yeah, for sure. But will it prevent me from being part of the group? It shouldn’t, and I strive for the time when it doesn’t.
I think the trick to this, at least for Christian women, is recognizing who gets the glory. When I succeed, it’s not just me, it’s Christ in me. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. Anything wonderful or worthy of envy about my life is the product of God working in me. Sure, it’s hard work and effort on my part, but it’s also always grace on His part. When we recognize that same grace at work in other women, perhaps we can put away the jealousy and be genuinely happy for each other.
If you’ve found a group of girlfriends who have this down, good for you! If not, maybe you can be the first to model it.