Sick of Perfect Moms on Instagram? Do Yourself a Favor and Go Follow “Mothers Meeting” Instead

We talked to Jenny Scott, founder of event company and brand Mothers Meeting, about staying sane in a sea of impossibly idyllic moms dominating social media.

All photos courtesy of Jenny Scott

“Being a mum is hard and very lonely at times. Even though I run the Mothership, I still get those lonely days—and when I do, it’s amazing to know I have a solid supportive network I can call upon,” says Jenny Scott, founder of Mothers Meeting. Since launching the event company and brand six years ago, she’s worked to inspire a community of women to maintain their interests, social lives and careers while being the caring mums they want – or have – to be.

Because these days, it seems like being an excellent mother is a carefully monitored obligation. I’m old enough to be a mother, which means that my social media feeds are flooded with more baby pictures than ever before. And not just any pictures: I see kids playing in perfectly cleaned living rooms, adorned in crisp high-end clothes and giggling happily under the shiny veneer of an Insta filter. It makes me wonder, what’s it like to be a mom today? How can moms who don’t sleep enough and drag a stroller around all day take care of themselves, let alone find time to snap some magically bohemian selfie with their perfectly-done hair and adorable child?

The jury’s out on that one. A 2011 study conducted by England’s Social Issues Research Centre found that mothers are equally divided on whether motherhood is easier now than it was in previous generations. Some cite that help from partners and technology gives them more time to themselves—but others feel like modern pressures to ‘have it all’ make motherhood stressful. And a big culprit behind that is social media.

A study conducted by row.co.uk reveals that 31 percent of moms admit to spending over nine hours per day on their phones, while another survey found that 41 percent of them check their social media accounts by 8 am. That means that from the moment they wake up, modern moms are regularly drinking in the images they see of other mums on Instagram—images that most often project a life of pristine perfection based around being a mother. Harper’s Bazaar recently suggested that this surgically curated motherhood results from a shifting paradigm, where today’s moms are seemingly reverting to traditional roles rooted in embracing motherhood as the first markers of their identities. While that act is nothing new – we’ve seen the happy housewife and doting mother tropes since the 50s – Harper’s also emphasizes the experiences these moms bring to the table are: if you look at many of the more successful Insta mom accounts, they’re run by women who have had or currently have careers in marketing, digital media, advertising or entrepreneurship. This means that the Insta moms dominating social media as ‘moms first, women second’ are experts at creating images that appeal to mass audiences—images that only get more and more pervasive thanks to the support of sponsors.

Amore #Alberobello #ItalianSunset #HappyAstie #Amore

A post shared by Pippa Vosper (@pippavosper) on

According to Vogue, “@pippavosper is a beautifully curated edit of her stylish life, with snippets of her adorable son Astor, or Astie, peppered in.”

Recent studies found that young mothers are one of the most profitable markets – by the end of this year, the global baby care market is presumed to hit 66.8 billion in sales despite the shrinking birth rate – so advertisers are looking at Insta moms first and foremost to sell their stuff. Take the economic lucrativeness of young moms, add their hyper-savvy digital skills, and you’ve got a potent symbiotic relationship: the better curated your Instagram motherhood is, the more you’ll be able to actually turn that into your livelihood. Result: a sea of designer baby strollers, dewy new mom skin and minimalist interiors, with not a baggy eye or vomit-stained dress in sight.

Considering that half of new mothers experience mental health issues, you can imagine the implications this curated perfection bears for parents. Many parents report that social media causes them to compare themselves to other parents in their feeds and feel like failures based on what they’re seeing online. But many others also cite social media as a vital site for community building, allowing new mothers to share empathy and communicate with their peers. And importantly, not every mom in Instagram is perfect. Lately, a backlash against the ‘myth’ of motherhood is growing and with that, a new breed of Insta mom has arrived. She isn’t afraid to admit when she’s tired or having a tough time as a mum, and importantly, she’s first of all a woman—a woman with interests, a woman who is driven. These women want to take care of themselves as well as their kids without feeling bad about it, because sometimes, the kid is not the center of the world. Which is where Jenny Scott and Mothers Meeting fit in.

The company primarily unites young moms through events which aim to give them spaces to be real together: with a total audience of over 50K, Mothers Meeting invites women to give each other advice, network and essentially find camaraderie through their experiences dealing with motherhood. But with 46.5 K followers on Instagram, Mothers Meeting definitely isn’t a grassroots initiative: it’s also a marketing agency, a brand, an academy and a publisher (Jenny Scott’s book is called “How to be a Hip Mama Without Losing Your Cool”.) Which in itself is an important point: although Jenny Scott is in some ways the anthesis of the perfect and doting Insta mom, her marketing strategies mirror and may even exceed theirs. Before Mothers Meeting, Jenny Scott spent 12 years working as an art director and designer for high-profile brands such as fashion designer Gareth Pugh, Nike, and Coca Cola. So when she started Mothers Meetings three years ago, she was armed with the digital savviness to immediately turn her organization into essentially a smart brand, albeit one with an admirable purpose.

Altogether, this seeming oxymoron raises some questions: how do you stay authentic about the ups and downs of motherhood when you’re monetising that very authenticity by turning it into a brand? And how is being a ‘mom with flaws’ better than being a perfect Insta mom, since both rely on maintaining a consistent and meticulous image in physical and digital life?

We don’t have the answers—so we thought we’d ask Jenny Scott about it herself below.

Girls Are Awesome: Hi, Jenny. What is Mothers Meeting?

Jenny Scott: I have been trying to figure that out since the day I started 6 years ago. It’s an entity in itself, I guess. I always wanted to put a label on it to make it easier when people ask me “what do you do?”

Mothers Meeting is events/PR/marketing/a book/podcasts/products/an academy. It’s a community of over 10,000 women who don’t want to forget about who they are since becoming a mum. Mothers Meeting is constantly changing. No matter what Mothers Meeting creates, it always has to inspire, motivate and support.

Can you describe the gap that you’re filling in society?

It’s the non-mumsy gap. It’s for women who have always had their own identities and interests. Women who are interested in creativity, fashion, art, music, and who happen to be mothers. It’s about embracing a new life as a mum and not forgetting all your interests pre motherhood. It’s about making the hardest job in life as interesting and exciting as possible.

What’s been your biggest success so far?

We have so many successes. I never started Mothers Meeting for it to become a business, but with its organic success and my love for bringing people together, it naturally became a business. We have managed to work and create events for the world’s biggest brands and help women build amazing businesses and lifelong networks. Everyday I feel encouraged and motivated to continue Mothers Meeting not for the money, but for the pure fact that I hear true stories from our members that Mothers Meeting has really changed their lives for the better.

Do you have a personal experience where the community of moms has helped or inspired you?

Being a mum is hard and very lonely at times and even though I run the Mothership, I still get those lonely days and when I do, it’s amazing to know I have a solid supportive network I can call upon.

What has come out of MM that you didn’t expect?

I never expected Mothers Meeting to speak to so many women—I am always amazed at the amount of women that attend our events. I just wish I could easily spread the love in different cities, but haven’t worked out the logistics to be able to do that but keep the quality and standard high!

The focus seems to be solely on moms. What role do you see dads playing in your organization and why?

It’s just about time, really. The events for mums seem to take up so much time and I don’t think dads are as socially adaptable. When we have hosted dads, the interest has not been as high. Men are not used to doing things that involve opening up, but it is something I would like to focus on. We are launching a cooking school for dads with a top chef so we’ll see how that goes.

Looking around Facebook, Instagram and blogs, there are plenty mothers out there giving advice on the best baby food, the best playground, the best clothes. The best ways for you to be the perfect mother. It seems like a full time job. Is it even possible to preserve your own identity in this environment?

Social media is a blessing and a curse. It all depends on how you use it. I have seen so many mothers going into therapy because they spend to much time comparing themselves to women on life. It’s like anything in life; it is about moderation and how you use it.

A classically sarcastic post from @mothersmeeting on Instagram.

Besides social media, I also read many debates about the detrimental helicopter parenting, or over-parenting. It seems like a fine line to balance: either you’re too much of a parent, or not enough. To what extent do you see competition among moms as a threat to motherhood and personal mental health?

I think it’s a very sensitive area and social media has massively increased people’s weaknesses and made mothers feel very anxious and stressed about parenting. We host Stress Less events for mothers and it always ends up being a room full of twenty women crying their hearts out because they feel stressed and anxious about not being a good mum or having a career. I blame social media for this and people not controlling how they use it. It is very dangerous and there is already a huge backlash mentally. There needs to be more medical awareness. As a society we are addicted to technology. It seems to be socially acceptable, but has many of the same setbacks as some of the most dangerous drugs.

Do you know if your work at Mothers Meeting is a part of some tendency or movement, where moms are getting together and reclaiming their position as humans and not just moms or women (birth machines and caretakers)?

Yes, definitely. Mothers Meeting was a big player in starting this crazy yet brilliant movement! There was nothing cool, hip or badass in the mum world when I started it six years ago—the only thing that inspired me was a picture of a heavily pregnant MIA in a polka dot dress with Reebok Classic workouts! She looked amazing and she was the only person to make me feel confident that I did not have to give up my love for UK Garage, hip hop music and bizarre/random fashion!

What’s in the pipeline for MM?

I have so many ideas. It’s just about focusing on one idea and making it happen. The next thing is a talent agency; we want to introduce the world to really amazing mothers. Not insta mums or socially savvy mums, but mums who are doing amazing things in the world.

Thanks, Jenny.