Gabrielle Union has been facing harsh criticism after she took to social media, posting a picture to announce the birth of her baby girl via surrogate.
The photo shows Union and her husband, NBA player Dwayne Wade, as well as their newborn daughter in the hospital. In the image, Union is shown without makeup, in a hospital bed, practicing skin-to-skin bonding with her baby.
These comments address Union without regard to her own experiences with pregnancy and motherhood prior to and following her daughter’s birth. According to Candace Montgomery, of Essence magazine, mom-shaming is defined as “unsolicited parenting ‘advice’ or ‘suggestions’ that makes you feel guilty or uncertain.” It is clear that these comments are in line with this definition.
Union has openly discussed her journey to motherhood, including the years it took for her to conceive, her experiences with IVF, and the miscarriages she experienced. In her 2017 memoir, Union wrote that she has had “8 or 9 miscarriages” throughout her womanhood.
In August of this year, Union revealed that she was diagnosed with adenomyosis, an overgrowth of endometrial tissue that can result in infertility.
On her diagnosis, Union said, “Everyone said, ‘You’re a career woman, you’ve prioritized your career, you waited too long and now you’re just too old to have a kid’—and that’s on you for wanting a career. The reality is I actually have adenomyosis…The gag is I had it in my early 20s.”
The backlash Union received for sharing an intimate moment publicly led to a self-proclaimed “mom influencer” to create a larger conversation on the subject of mom-shaming.
“Having a baby and motherhood is hard enough without being raked through the coals after sharing a very precious moment,” wrote Montgomery on Instagram. “As a mother who was able to get pregnant but had a lot of trouble during my pregnancies, I was disappointed. It’s reported that they experienced multiple failed attempts at IVF and as many as 8 miscarriages. Much love to supporting motherhood and parenting in many forms.”
Many other women have addressed the harm mom-shaming brings to mothers. Abbie Fox, photographer and owner of Foxy Photography, recently released a photo series showing children holding signs stating how their mothers were shamed.
The series, entitled “Anti Mommy Shamers Unite,” showcases a variety of issues mothers are guilted for, such as choosing not to breastfeed or work while being a new mother.
One mother, who allowed her children to take part in the series, told Motherly: “My parenting choices are my own… I’m an over thinker and take a lot of time to make decisions and research information when it’s needed and then I make the best choices for my family based off of that. I believe other parents make choices that are best for their family as well. If it has no impact on anyone outside of my home, it shouldn’t be judged or up for debate by others.”
The response to Gabrielle Union’s Instagram post has exposed the widespread presence of mom-shaming in society today. Instead of shaming women for the choices they make during motherhood, we should be empowering them and respecting the decisions they make for themselves and their family.
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