I write a mummy blog that advocates against judging women for their motherhood choices. I’ve publicly ranted about people commenting on women’s pregnancies, bodies, motherhood choices and more.
Yet the other day I was the one doing the judging.
I was sitting at the hospital waiting for my 36-week pregnancy check up. A handful of other heavily pregnant women were in the waiting room with me. Most, like me, were in their early or mid 30s, some carting toddlers around. But one woman didn’t quite fit the ‘mould’.
This lady was talking about how she was expecting not just one but two babies. She looked healthy enough, and like the rest of us was sporting a lovely set of cankles. She was smiling from ear to ear after being scheduled for a C-section the following week.
The difference was that she had entirely grey hair and wrinkles. She was probably in her early 50s and sitting with a man who I had originally assumed was her son.
I found myself a little shocked and started thinking about how they would have conceived (“IVF, surely?!”), why she waited so long and how old her partner was (“he looks not a day over 30!”). I have friends that have had babies over the age of 40, but to do it THAT old? It was only a few fleeting thoughts, but still…I’m thoroughly ashamed of myself.
From the faces of the other pregnant women in the room, it was pretty clear they were also making snap judgments – yet the other male in the waiting room probably hadn’t given the woman’s age and situation a second thought. So I got to thinking – why is it that us women are our own worst critics? Seemingly since the dawn of time women have been judging other women and themselves way too much.
Women attacking women is everywhere in our society. It’s splashed all over the media, and there are many women who take it to extremes – preferring to tear another woman down rather than build her up. We judge women for their appearance, how they speak, whom they’re friends with and how much they ate. Above all else, the so-called ‘Mummy Wars’ are very real, with continued judgements about how we raise our children – like the enduring breast vs bottle debate.
Men don't vie with each other over parenting styles. They don't even enter into conversations which categorise one man as better than another. Why is it that, in a male-dominated world, women are so quick to cut each other down? Do we do this because of our own insecurities? Yes, say many experts and commentators. Apparently, the more secure and confident we feel in our skin, the less we judge.
What do I have to be insecure about? Nothing – but maybe it was the fact that her belly was no bigger than mine, despite having two babies in it compared with my one, or that she looked relatively fresh when I felt and looked like absolute shit. I really don’t know.
Even though I ‘only’ thought these things and didn’t actually say the words aloud, my thoughts would have been plain to see. I’m one of those people who can’t hide or fake any sort of emotion. My face is an open book.
As women, we need to all do better at putting aside our own insecurities and not holding each other up as examples. In a world where the media bashes a pregnant woman for getting “too fat” and one mother looks down on another for her parenting style, let’s all try to stop this unhealthy pattern for the sake of our daughters.
Whether it’s ingrained or not, there’s no excuse.
I’m sincerely sorry.
When have you felt bad for judging someone?