A video of my toddler went viral on Insta and I’m getting tons of hate

It’s wild how fast people on social media can go from “Aww, so cute!” to “You’re a slut and a bad mom.”

It was a typical Monday evening, sitting down to a swiftly cooked spaghetti dinner that now sat cold, as my toddler, who’d begged for spaghetti, no longer, in fact, wanted spaghetti. I was nursing the baby in one arm and eating with the other, and that’s when we heard the notifications on my phone; one after the other, after the other, like the sudden sound of fireworks.

My first thought was that it was a family emergency since I’ve never received that many notifications at once. But the notifications were from Instagram. It seemed that a “reel” I’d posted a few hours earlier (reels are what Insta calls short videos) was going viral. To my shock, the 10-second clip of my toddler had more than a million views, and over the course of the next few weeks, it would hit 32 million views…while also provoking a surprising amount of hate.

I started my Instagram page after becoming a mom in 2019. I loved my new role, but the everyday challenges and mental load of motherhood took their toll on me, and like all other difficult things in my life, I turned to humour as a source of therapy and to connect with other moms. I started making funny videos about my daily ups and downs, finding solace in the camaraderie of fellow moms.

The video I posted that day was no different. I’d been doing a load of the kids’ laundry and threw in some items of my own. In a typical morning rush to get our toddler off to daycare, my partner grabbed a few items from the clean laundry in the basket. He grabbed a shirt, assuming it was my son’s based on its size, threw it on him and out the door they went. It wasn’t until I picked up my son at the end of the day that I realized my partner had mistakenly put him in one of my crop tops, specifically a Guns N’ Roses crop top. I thought it was a funny mistake and took a short video, added the fitting tune of “Sweet Child of Mine,” and posted it on Instagram. I put my phone away and continued on with my day. I knew the clip was cute, but I still didn’t think it would get much attention, let alone millions and millions of views.

I found it quite fun and exciting to have a video go viral. Friends and family reached out to let me know they had seen it as they scrolled through reels or from being shared on a page they follow. I of course started looking through the comments, enjoying that it made so many people laugh and smile. But that wasn’t the only reaction it had elicited.

It wasn’t long before I realized that among the comments was a fair amount of hate and judgment. Not, as you might assume, because my toddler was wearing a crop top. It was because I’m a mom who owns a crop top. I received both comments and DMs from people who said I should be ashamed for owning a crop top as a mom of two. “Maybe it’s a sign that you should stop dressing like a slut,” read one since-deleted comment, and there were many others like it. Some said I was setting a bad example. Others told me to “find real clothes.”

I shrugged it off at first, but the more comments rolled in, the more upset I felt. For one thing, I do, in fact, own and wear plenty of full-length shirts. But what really got me was the idea that my role as a mother should dictate my fashion choices. I have always been a fan of crop tops. They’re cute and often sport some of my favourite bands; they help me from getting overheated as someone who struggles with postpartum sweat; and they’re super convenient for breastfeeding on the go. I’ve actually successfully taken part in a public exercise class, all while comfortably holding and nursing my baby in a crop top. Most importantly though, from an overwhelming postpartum recovery to the everlasting linea nigra to my core that just doesn’t seem to want to piece itself back together, this imperfect body has grown, nurtured and birthed two humans and I am proud and unapologetic in showing it.

I’ve worn my crop top to the grocery store, on walks, and yes, to daycare pickup. And no, I am not remotely embarrassed or ashamed. Women’s bodies are amazing in all they do and if we want to celebrate them in a way that we are comfortable with, then we should, wholeheartedly. Those who think moms can’t or shouldn’t wear crop tops are suggesting that mothers must say goodbye to their pre-mom selves and that when you become a parent, there are things that are suddenly off limits. I strongly disagree with this and firmly believe that while embracing motherhood, we should also not forget ourselves, who we were and are outside of being a mom, nor should we set limits on what a mom “should be.”

Motherhood is tough, so let’s celebrate each other and the things we are proud of. Me? I’m proud of my crop-top sportin’ body.

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