Kylie Jenner's famously revealed her pregnancy with a now-iconic Instagram post. (Illustration by Nymera Nicole, Academy of Art University)
Thoughts x

Motherhood used to define women. Now, it’s just one part of who they are.

There’s a new mom on the block. She doesn’t drive a carpool mini-van to soccer practice, shop at Ann Taylor or she stay at home and fold laundry all day. No, instead, the new mom on the block drives a custom Bentley that is worth $900 million.

She’s young, self-sufficient and independent. She is a reality star sponsored on Instagram, and smiles with her cheeky baby for her millions of followers. A social media mom, if you will. She’s keeping up with the trend (or Kylie Jenner), and doing what’s in vogue: having a baby.

The ongoing evolution of “the social media mom” is interesting for a number of reasons. First, it forces the question of who society sees fit for the role. Is motherhood reserved for dedicated soccer moms who are essentially willing to sacrifice their personal lives for the betterment of their children? Or, can motherhood progress to be more accommodating to the mom, not just the children?

It seems that as motherhood becomes more dynamic and inclusive, society continues to wage the traditional against the new: Which is better and why?

When Kylie Jenner announced her pregnancy, which she impressively kept a secret for nine months despite being in the limelight constantly, the world was a bit shocked. “She’s only 20, she’s not mature enough to be a mother,” they said.

Jenner broke from the traditional understanding of motherhood. She went on to post flirtatious arrays of photos on Instagram, partied and continued to broaden her international influence through her beauty line, Kylie Cosmetics.

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stormi webster 👼🏽

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Jenner, amongst others, has redefined what it means to be a mom. The accidental or planned nature of a pregnancy does not have to ensure a complete self-sacrifice. Instead, motherhood can offer a new chapter of dynamic living, embracing the truly enigmatic and beautiful process of having a child while still maintaining a girl-boss attitude.

Enter Slick Woods. Born Simone Thompson, Slick found her fame as the ambassador of Rihanna’s beauty line, Fenty Beauty. Woods first brought her pregnancy to light in July 2018, as she made an Instagram post detailing her perched on the edge of an indoor pool, wearing a striped one piece, adorned in jewelry and flaunting her most notable accessory: a baby bump.

Since the birth of her son, Saphir, she has joined this new mom movement. The love and dedication she has for her son is undeniable, but the love she has for the fashion industry, her career as a world renown model and her social personality are equally apparent. She has managed to coalesce the aspects of her life to become even more of a badass than she already was.

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In good company

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This novel idea of motherhood coincides with the modern feminist movement, which encourages women to recognize their full professional and personal potential. It’s a song of independence and progression. For centuries, motherhood defined women, but now, motherhood has become perk of womanhood, not its identifying factor.

Take another member of the new mom club, Stormi Bree, for example. Bree became pregnant with her daughter, Gravity Blue, in 2017, with Lucky Blue Smith, her boyfriend at the time. The couple has since then split up, dividing their time with Gravity.

Bree has shared the colorful experience of single motherhood with her 1 million followers on Instagram. She revels in the joyous day-to-day activities she spends with her daughter, while she simultaneously shares the compelling and truthful hardships of being a mom. Her Instagram mirrors her life in the sense that it is variegated and dynamic. She cannot be defined by just one thing, but rather a plethora of different experiences.

Ironically, most motherhood backlash comes from the idea of having a child outside of a nuclear family setting. It becomes a question of financial and emotional stability, even though most of these new moms are grossing anywhere from $350k to $900 million, a very adequate income to raise a child under. Perhaps it is actually a question of capability shrouded in a concern for finances or not being married. It has become the problematic understanding that this new mom “doesn’t have what it takes” to raise a child.

However, if running an international business and participating in the volatile fashion and modeling industries isn’t emblematic of “having what it takes,” then I don’t know what is.

Shifting the understanding of motherhood is essential to understanding the modern woman. Also essential to this understanding is the fundamental element of choice. Woods said it best when she captioned the birth of her son, “A look, 14 hours of labor, and a king is born. This is the face of a WOMAN in labor, we hold shit down most of don’t even know how much we’re going through, I’m here to say I can do whatever the fuck I want whenever the fuck I want and so can you.”

Today, girls are more capable of governing their lives than ever before. Don’t want to participate in motherhood and would rather focus on your career? Fine. Want to feel the joys of motherhood and also focus on your career? Also fine. Want to make motherhood your full time job? Go for it. It shouldn’t have to be one or the other, but instead finding a balance.

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