From the very first page of The Mask of Motherhood by Susan Maushart:
The problem certainly does still remains today. This time though women no longer have the pressure to conform to a happy housewife image, but rather to conform to images seen on social media or a woman “having it all”. This book was written in 2000 before social media really took off, so I would say the problem has only grown worse.
Nothing captures that discrepancy better than this photo comparison of a mom with postpartum depression.
Part of the caption to these photos reads:
Chances are, you’re feeling pretty uncomfortable right now (trust me I am too). I’m going to challenge you to push past the discomfort society has placed on postpartum mental illness and hear me out.
May has been declared Postpartum Depression Awareness Month and as someone with diagnosed postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD I feel like it’s time to show you what that can really look like, not just the side of me that’s “Facebook worthy.”
The truth is, both of these pictures represent my life depending on the day. I would only ever comfortably share one of these realities though and that’s the problem. The only thing more exhausting than having these conditions is pretending daily that I don’t. I work twice as hard to hide this reality from you because I’m afraid to make you uncomfortable. I’m afraid you’ll think I’m weak, crazy, a terrible mother, or the other million things my mind convinces me of and I know I’m not alone in those thoughts.
Yes, both photos represent reality on any given day, but only one reality is socially acceptable. I don’t consider this a feminist issue or problem, but cultural. Men and women have crazy pressure to conform to images and to reflect something back to society they feel will appease society. Everyone tells us how things “ought” to be, yet all too often our experiences tell us something completely different. It leaves us in turmoil and indeed the exhausting task of making sure you present the right image.