CC Clarke On Online Mum-Shaming: ‘I Want To Normalise Feelings Of Self-Doubt As A Mother’

Influencer CC Clarke opens up about the trolling she's experienced as a new mother: 'I just don't think it's normal to be told your child will go blind for watching TV as a baby or that she wont wake up if she continues sleeping in a certain way'.

CC Clarke

by Rhiannon Evans |
Updated on

About seven years ago now I started posting make-up tutorials onmy Instagram, whilst the word ‘influencer’ was still a very new concept. Since then, I have been lucky enough to create content for a multitude of beauty and fashion brands and build a social media audience that has facilitated some of the most incredible opportunities; meeting my idol Rihanna for an intimate FENTY gathering, going to New York Fashion week with Maybelline and travelling to Coachella with the likes of NYX and GHD.

Whilst the world of social media grew, so did the number of people making a career from it; social media marketers, analysts, influencer engagement managers... It was a whirlwind and one which I found myself very much in the midst of. It’s incredible to be able to create a career out of something I loved - but I would be lying if I said it came without pitfalls. The words ‘keyboard warrior’ and ‘trolls’ are common language in today’s world, and the comments that I’ve read about me (often aimed at my personal appearance) never really bothered me - until my world changed for the better, last November when I had my baby girl, Birdyblue aka My Bibi.

When I found out I was pregnant, it was a surprise - an amazing surprise but also one that filled me with so many emotions and uncertainties. I took a test 24 hours after the 2020 initial lockdown was announced in the UK and I suddenly felt like my world was tumbling down, if I'm being completely honest. Was I really about to have a baby when all my work had frozen, there was an unpredictable pandemic spreading, we could no longer see our families and not to mention how many other worldly tragedies were coming to light during this time? I felt so out of control but once I had bonded with my family, husband and online audience, the initial shock subsided and I became so excited for my little miracle to arrive. In fact she was a shining light during this challenging time - a gift I didn't even know that we truly needed.

We kept Bibi’s birth private for over a week before I introduced her to my online community - I wanted to make sure I made the most of that precious bonding time and also give my hormones time to level out. They do warn you about the hormones but wow…nothing really prepares you for the intensity! I was in a bubble and I didn’t want it to burst - Bibi was exclusively ours, and where I was usually programmed to share everything in my life on social media, I found myself not even wanting to share pictures with close friends and family.

The reaction from the majority of my online community was positive and happy, but I was shocked by some of the nasty comments. The disparity between expectation and reality with social media is huge. Influencers are expected to consistently create and share content that is ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ but then must turn a blind eye to hurtful personal comments, keep a cool head and remember that ‘it comes with the territory’. This is mirrored in everyday society - we are constantly told not to be too hard on ourselves, to be honest about our struggles and seek advice when we need it, yet there is still a lot of judgement when it comes to parenting. I mean, I just don't think its normal to be told your child will go blind for watching TV as a baby (if you are a parent you know how much their faces light up when they see the colours on the screen!) and to be told that she wont wake up if she continues sleeping in a certain way is frightening... Despite good intentions sometimes, you can start to really question yourself over everything, which isn't healthy.

In an age where mental health is a daily conversation topic, it’s important for us to talk about these negatives so that we can make changes for the better, rather than ignore them. I feel incredibly lucky to have access to a community on social media which has been built over years- people who have taken interest in my journey and my work, as well my personal life. Being a first-time mum, it has been a blessing to be able to ask questions to thousands of people at the tap of a few buttons and shows how incredible social media can be - when used for the right reasons!

I want to normalise feelings of self-doubt as a mother, and encourage honest conversations about parenting in a safe and judgement-free social community. My life before Bibi had no structure or routine, and I was told that would need to change and that routine was everything. Actually, what I found (like so many) is that yes, whilst a routine is good for babies... they also vibe with the kind of parent you are too. I was adamant that I was going to have certain feeding times, nap times, strictly no co-sleeping... even considered the idea of a night nanny to help sleep train, but no. I quickly learned that your worlds fuse and your baby paves the way initially with their needs on demand and sooner or later (in my case at least) she started to understand our way of life too! These babies learn quickly, let me tell you. I also realises how much I wanted to cuddle her each night so she now does half the night in her cot and half the night co-sleeping now she's 6 months and do you know what? That is OK! I no longer beat myself up about the lack of structure... to be honest as soon as you feel like you have something nailed, of course the first tooth breaks through or something and suddenly you are re-learning how to settle again! But i am truly grateful for the whole experience and yep, I'm still just winging it!

I am unapologetically the mum that I am. It comes down to respecting that everyone is different, and social platforms should be used to communicate, share experiences and encourage an open minded approach rather than criticize and breed negativity. I will never take for granted the connections I have made, and the way my followers have made me feel less lonely in such an uncertain time and vice versa is a gift! I hope that the positive supporters continue to speak up to drown out the negativity... and for anyone that feels like they are struggling and don't have it together... We are all just learning on the job, and what a blessing that is!

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