The Instagram club, members only please by Vicki at Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum

I remember looking over to the corner of the tennis courts at school one day at the ‘popular group’. The ones that everyone wanted to be, the ones that everyone swarmed to. The ones that held the power to include or exclude.

At my school there was even another group in the year above who named themselves the popular girls and shortened it to the ‘PGs’, I would like to say I am kidding, but I am not.

Your school years are filled with angst and not fitting in and desperately yearning for where and when you do. I was never one of the popular girls. I guess a bit of a try hard and a fake it until you make it kind of gal, draw on the eyeliner and pretend it didn’t matter.

Then with age you begin to know popularity isn’t as important as a true friend. There are always cliques, but you find your place and your comfortable with it.

This is how I felt, until I became a mother. Then everything I thought I knew became null and void. It was a system update and when you turned the computer back on your work had all disappeared. I found solace in the arms of social media, Instagram to be precise.

First it was connecting with other parents who had been through what we had, then slowly I found I had a small support network around me of people who I genuinely cared about. Through those little squares came meet ups, and lasting friendships.

But, just like any school playground the cliques were the ones who ruled the squares. You then fell into one of two categories, you were one of them or you were that girl staring across the tennis courts wishing to be invited over to join them.

It can be hard to see the opportunities others are presented with when you are sitting at home in your PJs for the 3rd day in a row eating hobnobs. This is where in amongst the hormones and sleep deprivation you feel social media; your ally begins to turn against you.

The main problem with cliques is that it they are not a place for all. There are those who are excluded, perhaps not on purpose but just because.

There are those who use their notoriety for good, for campaigning and raising awareness whilst still taking time out to connect with the ‘real world’, there are those who don’t.

One thing, those squares have a sharp tongue and when you have reached the dizzy heights of Instagram worthy fame and do something wrong in their eyes? Expect to be brought down with a bump harder than pushing a double pram into the curb. Sometimes it is warranted, sometimes it is an innocent mistake. It is what you do about it that counts.

We all crave popularity; notability and we all just want to take a seat on the couch with Phil and Holly one day. As much as we all pretend otherwise, we all just want to be included.

Being included means different things to different people. For me it is seeing an honest representation of parenthood in the media. It is showing what we all know to be true. It is showing diversity in campaigns. It is creating opportunities where the little fish get to swim with the big fish. It is a club in which everyone is welcome, and we only ask for one thing; kindness.

This has become apparent with the recent fallout from the @hellomag @next ‘supermum’ competition. An ad which featured 5 known personalities in a glamorous photoshoot. Sounds innocent enough? That ad did not show any diversity in it’s ‘supermum’ judges, as well as creating a contest for mums to compete against each other for who was ‘better’, being judged by other mums.

As if there isn’t enough judgement and exclusivity to do with motherhood, we are force fed unrealistic expectations of what motherhood looks like and unfortunately, Next and Hello Magazine have become guilty of the same.Every morning before nursery I say to my son to remember two things. One is to be kind, treat everyone the same, help those who need it, comfort someone who is upset, try and make a new friend and secondly, to remember he can be whoever he wants to be.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all taught our children to be kind, to never exclude so that when they are at school there is no cliques? There isn’t a single person there feeling left out or glancing over to the corner of the tennis courts wishing they were anyone else but themselves.

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