The trad mom promise of a "perfectly balanced world"
What some conservative momfluencers are selling, and why people are buying it
As part of my final Momfluenced edit, I updated the follower counts of all the momfluencers mentioned in the book. Depressingly, the follower count for every single alt-right/Q/trad mom mentioned in Momfluenced has gone up since I finished my first draft of the book in April 2022. When I first started researching the book back in 2020, Hannah from Ballerina Farm had a little over 145,000 followers. Now she has 2.4 million.
Some of these momfluencers are simply low-key troubling, declaring themselves “apolitical” despite splashing their pages with photos meant to glorify and celebrate a type of life made possible only by socioeconomic privilege and adhering to heteronormative ideals, white Western beauty standards, and tightly conscripted gender roles. Mothers looking beautiful in their beautiful homes with their beautiful children. Mothers milking cows, making sourdough, hanging laundry, sweeping floors. Fathers mostly out of frame and mostly out of the house.
Some of these momfluencers, though, are high-key dangerous as they “do their research,” exhort their followers to simply “ask questions,” oppose critical race theory and comprehensive sex education being taught in schools, spread disinformation about vaccines or homemade baby formula recipes, and hashtag posts with QAnon dog whistles like #savethechildren.
Both the low-key troubling and the high-key dangerous momfluencers, though, are typically aesthetically aligned. In the mamasphere, you are less likely to see oafish white men screaming about men’s rights and Hillary’s emails and more likely to see powder pink infographics about choosing femininity over feminism. By adhering to the aesthetics many of us have been culturally conditioned to view as “good” or “safe” or “maternal” (and therefore incontrovertible), conservative momfluencers can attract homesteading enthusiasts and MAGA-hat wearing Mama Bears alike. Come from the tutorial on seasonal garden bed maintenance, leave wondering if maybe you too have been brainwashed by the “liberal elite.”
Check out this momfluencer’s reel about ducks. The ducks are cute! The captions are funny.
Check out her photo of farm-fresh veggies. Bright colors. Farmhouse sink. Visually interesting composition. Pretty, pretty.
Check out this before and after bathroom reno. Inspiring! Resourceful!
Check out this reel celebrating farm life. Our heroine is dancing! Her children are wearing hand-knit bonnets. A cozy fire warms the hearth. A brook babbles. Goats frolic. Edenic.
Now, check out this beautiful photo taken of our momfluencer with her husband.
So gorgeous, right? The stormy skies, the verdant grass, the seemingly passionate embrace. Sure, our momfluencer is a mom, but, as this photo communicates, motherhood has not adversely impacted her sex life or her sense of romance. She’s a mom, but she’s wearing a flowy goddess dress and she’s super into her husband and he’s super into her. Honestly, #goals.
This momfluencer (whose name, according to her bio, is Megan) offers followers recipes for “healthy” chocolate, interior design inspo, DIY life hacks, suggestions for “baby’s first solids,” liver capsule giveaways, promo codes for Airdoctor air filters, veggie canning how-tos, and spon-con for organic hemp sheets. And importantly, this account offers all of the above but makes it pretty. Megan’s photos are richly hued, thoughtfully framed, and many of them feel soothing to engage with. They provide a brief respite from that dentist appointment I’ve been reminding myself to make for months, the after-school carpool spreadsheet, and the quotidian angst of being a human in 2022.
And it’s the aspirational aesthetics paired with the wide variety of offerings (food! farming! shiplap! ducks!) that make captions like the one accompanying the hot make-out pic so insidious.
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