We all know women are judged much more harshly than men. It seems we’re always perceived as too loud or too quiet, too reserved or too domineering, too nice or too cold. But somehow, mothers are judged even more harshly than any of us. There’s this idea floating around that there is one perfect type of mother. But the funny thing is, she’s just an idea. She doesn’t actually exist. Yet women are consistently comparing themselves — and each other — to this imaginary entity. This, of course, breeds mom-shaming, the internet’s favorite way to rob women of their right to be individuals who make individual choices.
The latest celebrity to fall victim to mom-shaming? Carrie Underwood. And the country star’s recent experience may be the best example yet of how ridiculous mom-shaming is.
Moms on Instagram decided to bully Carrie for… wearing makeup to her son’s little league soccer game.
After she posted a picture celebrating her son Isaiah scoring two goals, hateful messages came streaming in.
Commenters insinuated Underwood was putting other moms down by putting on mascara.
“Well that is a crap ton of makeup for a soccer game,” one commenter wrote according to Yahoo.
“Show up like most soccer moms, messy hair don’t care, no makeup and a coffee mug in hand,” another added.
Others had the audacity to theorize the star got plastic surgery.
“I love Carrie. But it looks like she’s starting the injections and face changing tweaks way too soon. She’s looking a little plastic these days,” wrote one of the many commenters suggesting Underwood got lip injections, microbladed her eyebrows or “fixed her nose.”
But the most ridiculous accusation was that she somehow doesn’t care about her son because she posted a selfie.
According to Yahoo, some commenters said posting a photo of herself dolled up rather than posting a photo of her son is proof she is vain or doesn’t care about him.
Of course, this boils down to the belief the ideal mother cares only about her kids, all day and every day. She makes no time for her own appearance, her own autonomy or her own life.
And to be quite honest, that’s internalized misogyny speaking. Women are allowed to make personal choices like whether or not to curl their hair, and they should be able to do that without criticism.
Because think about it: If we criticize a mother this badly for drawing on her eyebrows, how horribly are we criticizing mothers for “bigger” individual choices that affect their abilities to operate in our society, like continuing to work after having kids?
Working moms already know the answer to that question. The criticism is pretty bad. And it’s affecting women’s parity in the workplace. In order to alleviate this pressure, we need to stop mom-shaming at every level — whether it’s criticism of the baby stroller you use or the nanny you choose.
Thankfully, supportive moms chimed in to support the country star.
They reminded her that she’s allowed to do whatever she wants.
“I see moms that dress like this at soccer games!” wrote one commenter. “You look great, and [you’re] being the best mom you can be. Literally the most respected woman country artist there is and this is how other moms act? Post all the selfies you want, we know you love your kids!”
Now that’s the kind of women supporting women we all want to see.
A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards and career advice.