- “Does anyone have a recommendation for a non-toxic sunscreen?”
- “X brand detergent is really toxic. Let me PM you.”
- “Have you looked this up on Environmental Working Group (EWG)?”
This growing trend begs the question, is there a huge uptick in moms who are also toxicology scientists? Or is clean-shaming the new mom-shaming?
As a first-time mom, I was confident I would do everything right, down to the products my baby used and the food I put into my body. I quickly found a plethora of products for babies touted as “toxin-free,” “clean,” and “organic.” This led to even more searches into the household products I was using, the beauty products I was using, and my food. I couldn’t believe how I was poisoning myself! I certainly wasn’t going to let all these harmful chemicals get at my newborn.
Looking further into organic, clean beauty, and natural baby products, I started to find a trend, fear-heavy marketing targeting moms based on little or faulty data. Here are some articles to highlight some things that addressed my own concerns and those of many moms:
- Did you know organic farming may be less sustainable than conventional farming?
- Organic does not mean pesticide free and organic pesticides are not necessarily safer.
- The EWG has been criticized for how they evaluate products, and especially the misleading dirty dozen list.
- Clean beauty doesn’t mean safer beauty, and European products aren’t safer, the regulatory bodies just work differently.
- Natural teething products for babies not only don’t work, but can be dangerous.
Learning more about evaluating facts instead of fear, I eventually went from the pure water wipes to another (thankfully cheaper) brand and from home-made household cleaners with essential oils to different store brands, including those both with natural ingredients and some with bleach and synthetic fragrance. When we buy produce, we buy a variety of fresh, frozen, and canned without much concern for whether it is organic or not. You know what? Three years and another kid later, we’re all still thriving by living not in the black and white area but the grey.
There’s nothing wrong with striving for a healthier lifestyle. However, pushing fear in clean living without looking at the nuance can lead to unintended consequences, like people buying less produce overall because they can’t afford organic or assuming a natural product can be consumed in large quantities (see: argyria).
As someone who suffered from post-partum anxiety, it would have sent me into a spiral if someone suggested that the detergent I used for my new baby was toxic. As a community, we need to think before we speak and wonder, is this helpful? Is this even true?
Clean-shaming is not only inaccurate, but it’s also coming from a place of privilege, and it has the potential to hurt moms not only emotionally but financially and even physically.
It is high time for moms to stop worrying about the chemicals in their products and think more about other areas of toxicity and stress in their life. Let’s let clean-shaming go the way of over-plucked eyebrows and mommy wine culture: outdated and, let’s be honest, a little cringey.