Photo: Courtesy of Whitney Port
Motherhood is messy. At least my version of it is. It’s not the picture-perfect scene you see on social media. You know the one I’m talking about: The heavily coiffed, svelte new mom with beachy waves, looking like she stepped out of a J. Crew catalogue. Her house is spotless with not one piece of evidence to suggest she even has a baby. She’s juggling everything: Her career, her husband, her children, her friends and her coffee...without one stain on her perfectly chic outfit.
No, this is not reality. Or at least, it’s not mine.
Let me give you a little visual of what my typical “look” consists of these days… It starts with fluffy socks. You know, the kind you can purchase at the convenience store in the airport? Yeah, those. Moving on up we’ve got Ugg boots from the eighth grade and sweats wearing so thin they’re getting holes in the crotch. There’s a pump bra around my waist, while my soft nursing bra keeps my newly sagging, once perky boobs, from hitting my belly button (I exaggerate here, but fear it will be true one day). I’m wearing a sweatshirt that says Britney, Bitch and my skin is dry and patchy; new wrinkles seem to appear each day. My eyebrows are bushy, because who’s got time for a wax, really? And last but certainly not least, my unwashed hair is pulled into a top knot and fastened with a scrunchie. (Yes, a scrunchie. I don’t leave home without them.)
My house constantly looks like I’ve just cleaned out my closet: Clothes and shoes and endless piles of laundry are everywhere. My pump parts and bottles have taken over the bathroom; Sonny’s stroller and car seat and floor mat and toys are splayed all around.
To be frank: It’s a damn mess.
To those who follow me on social media, this may come as a bit of a surprise. Because maybe in your eyes, I am the girl I described earlier. Which is why I had to come clean: A lot of what I post on social media is a lie.
Pre-baby, many photos I posted to Instagram and my website were meticulously thought-out, crafted and posed. But then I got pregnant, and everything changed. I had no choice but to show the raw, untouched version of myself because of how physically ill I felt at all times. Being present on social media is part of my job, and I couldn’t afford to entirely disappear. So instead of mustering up the energy to create perfectly staged photos once a week, my husband encouraged me to let the realness shine: To show my enormous ankles swelling by the minute, to film in an unmade bed without any makeup, to write about not loving yourself during what is “supposed” to be a super sexy and feminine time in a woman’s life.
I really struggled with this. So much of what I do for a living relies on curating beautiful content. I work with several brands as a creative consultant, so if I don’t look the part, or act the part, what is my value to them? I’m supposed to represent the modern-day woman who has it all and can do it all. My career and income quite literally rely on my being able to maintain that idyllic lifestyle, not to mention documenting it on the daily.
So I’d attempt to make the bed or pick up clothes off the floor or put on tinted moisturizer.
But it quickly became too hard to be someone I wasn’t. It was too much work to “fake” it. And the more I posted the real deal stuff, the more engagement I was getting, and the better I felt about myself. Instead of just posting and sharing just for the sake of it, I felt like I was creating a tribe of like-minded women who want to be the best version of themselves from the inside out and not the other way around. In a world where social media can feel very narcissistic, showing my true colours made it feel the opposite.
I’m messy, I like sweats, I don’t always brush my teeth right when I wake up, I eat challah in bed while I pump, I make organized piles instead of putting anything away, I don’t cook, and some days I don’t even shower.
As soon as I surrendered to just being me, to being vulnerable and honest, I felt closer to all of you. And I hope you felt closer to me, too. I challenge you all to let your guard down and show something that might embarrass you, or write about something that upsets you, because odds are someone else out there feels the same and won’t feel alone anymore.
At the end of the day, as in all aspects of life, it’s important to find the balance. I love dressing up, putting together that perfect outfit with the sexy shoe and the great accessories to match. I love a candle-lit dinner party with bouquets of white peonies. I love going to the farmers’ market with my sweet little family and filling the house with flowers. I love all this stuff because I love to make life look pretty when I feel like it. It’s empowering to truly believe that life is a mix of the beautiful and the ugly.
And you know what? I love a scrunchie, too.
Finding balance is something I strive for every day. Maybe one day I’ll be able to maintain it, and realize that these two sides of me are not mutually exclusive—that they both can exist in a meaningful way...and, maybe, that’s the real definition of having it all.