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Mediated Moms

Contemporary Challenges to the Motherhood Myth

Heather L. Hundley and Sara E. Hayden

Images of «good mothers» saturate the media, yet so too do images of mothers who do not fit this mold. Numerous scholars have addressed «bad mothers» in the media, arguing that these images are a necessary counterpoint that serves to buttress the «good mother» myth. While mediated images of women who fail to enact good motherhood may promote good mothering as an ideal, the essays in Mediated Moms: Contemporary Challenges to the Motherhood Myth, suggest that this is not all that is occurring in contemporary portrayals of maternity. The authors in this volume explore how images of mothers have expanded beyond the good/bad dichotomy, simultaneously and sometimes paradoxically serving to reinforce, fracture, and/or transcend the ideology of good motherhood.
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8. “Save Your Tears for Your Pillow”: Tough Love and the Mothering Double Bind in Dance Moms

Extract



By STEPHANIE L. GOMEZ

In July 2014, Debra Harrell, a mother of a nine-year-old girl in South Carolina, was arrested for leaving her child to play by herself in a park while she worked at a nearby McDonald’s (Wallace, 2014). Unable to afford childcare, but in need of a job, Harrell felt she had no choice but to leave her daughter alone. People responded to Harrell’s arrest with a mixture of outrage at Harrell’s negligence and sympathy for her circumstances, yet despite the myriad discourses surrounding Harrell and her arrest, one thing remained clear: Harrell’s ability to be a “good” mother was either being questioned or defended; indeed, the entire outcry surrounding the incident centered on what it means to be a “good” or “bad” mother. Mothers are in the media perhaps more now than ever before, from Harrell to Nicole Gainey, a mother in Florida who allowed her seven-year-old son to walk to the park on his own (Schmidt, 2014), to Shanesha Taylor, a mother in Arizona who left her two young children in a locked car while attending an interview for a job she desperately needed (Grinberg, 2014). Motherhood, and what qualifies someone to be a “good” mother, is at the forefront of U.S. consciousness, and is seemingly constantly debated in the media.

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