In Pursuit of Clean Countertops isn’t about countertops. Not really. This weekly newsletter is about my obsession with momfluencers and how that obsession reveals what so many of us pursue by way of mommy influencers. Maybe it’s clean countertops (something all of the top momfluencers boast in perfectly lit photos). Maybe it’s a face balm that will make you throw away all your other beauty products (something momfluencers AND the Instagram algorithm try to sell me on a regular basis). Maybe it’s a more blissful, joyful experience of motherhood by way of macrame wall hangings or simply by being born Gwyneth Paltrow.
Most of all, I’m interested in why we follow momfluencers, what momfluencers are trying to sell us, and why the answers to these questions can reveal the grim reality of mothering in America, a country that claims to revere mothers while simultaneously denying them respect or financial renumeration for their labor. I want to understand why our culture idealizes motherhood (online and off) but fails again and again to give moms what they need to thrive (like universal preschool, paid family leave, subsidized childcare).
Because I’m also writing a book about momfluencers (MOMFLUENCED, coming out in 2023), sometimes I’ll share interviews with momfluencer experts, sometimes I’ll share behind-the-scenes publishing anecdotes, and sometimes I’ll provide media round-ups of the books, podcasts, and movies I’ve discovered in my research.
Writing is my full-time job. And it’s no secret that the publishing industry and the wider media landscape is a mess. Media outlets are constantly folding. Freelancer payment is unpredictable and sporadic and dependent on news cycles. I typically earn anywhere between $250 - $900 per freelance piece. Some of these take months to research and report. Some of them take weeks. And I love writing these pieces! I love participating in conversations about motherhood, feminism, and influencer culture on large platforms that reach diverse audiences.
But I write this newsletter because sometimes, something happens in the news (or on Instagram) that I know lots of people have feelings about and I want to respond immediately. This newsletter allows me to write fun, sometimes polarizing, timely cultural critiques in the moment. As a reader, I LOVE reading essays by my favorite writers responding to current events happening right this very minute. When sometime strange or curious happens in the news, whether it be related to entertainment, health, or literature, I seek out experts in those fields to better understand and process my own reactions. My goal with this newsletter is to provide my expertise as a momfluencer-obsessive to my fellow momfluencer consumers. In real time. In a loose, irreverent way that’s fun to read.
And while this newsletter is meant to be a bright spot in your inbox, I also write this newsletter because I’m furious about the motherhood narratives undergirding most of momfluencer culture. Narratives that uphold the ideal mother as white, wealthy, cis-het, non-disabled, thin, and wholly devoted to the mythology of the nuclear family. It’s fun to interrogate momfluencer culture, but it’s also necessary to unpack what’s going on underneath the surface so we are better equipped to demand structural supports for caregiving. And so we can create our own narratives of mothering, narratives that center mothers’ individuality. Whether or not our countertops are ever clean.
If my work resonates with you, of if you find the interrogation of the “ideal mother” narrative valuable, I hope you’ll consider subscribing for $5 per month or $50 per year.
I write about motherhood and feminism, and my essays and articles have been featured in outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Glamour, Refinery29, and elsewhere. I’m a frequent contributor to InStyle, where I recently wrote about the misogyny inherent in terms like “mommy brain,” and Romper, where I recently wrote about performing motherhood online. For Harper’s Bazaar, I wrote a piece about the cultishness of wellness momfluencers, and another about my own love/hate relationship with momfluencers.
I live in New Hampshire with my family, where I listen to podcasts obsessively while knitting. Feel free to check out my website to find more of my work, follow me on Instagram, where I like to rant about the ads, and Twitter, where I rant about everything.