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Social media works as a space where the role of motherhood is (re)constructed (Orton-Johnson, 2017). Research suggests that even though mothers know Instagram is not realistic, it still has negative impacts on mental health (Sharme et
al., 2020). This research paper argues that the Instagram hashtag #motherhoodunplugged is a wolf in sheep’s clothing as it perpetuates the false depiction of motherhood that it seems to counteract.
Therefore, it is vital to explore the normalization of motherhood under such hashtag to understand what new mothers are consuming online and how it affects the social context of maternity. A visual exploration of the hashtag #motherhoodunplugged suggests a public interest in the non-curated version of motherhood. I performed a visual analysis of 100 posts with the hashtag #motherhoodunplugged to answer the following questions: 1. How is motherhood portrayed in the images? 2. How do the caption and the images presented relate to each other and the hashtag? 3. What is missing out from the images?
The analysis shows that the hashtag #motherhoodunplugged displays a staged representation of motherhood that reveals the inherent dichotomy between reallife motherhood and its portrayal online. Hardship, frustration, anger and challenging times seldom reflect media, normalizing a false reality that may perpetuate the notion that women belong to their children and homes Doing socontributes to the normalization of intensive mothering (Hayes, 1996) and a non realistic polished version of maternity that perpetuates false notions about motherhood that can be harmful to women.
Dr. Amanda Watson, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Simon Fraser University
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