The Portrayal of Mothers and Motherhood in Popular Culture

Motherhood is a truly respectful concept and role to bear in contemporary society. Considering that mother figures are persons who deserve indefinite recognition and appreciation, it is troublesome to acknowledge the negative ways in which mothers and motherhood are depicted in various popular culture mediums.

My personal interpretation of how mothers and motherhood is depicted in popular culture is an interpretation that focuses on the division of race in terms of motherhood, and how popular culture and media portrays mothers differently in terms of their race.

For example, it has become apparent to me that popular culture conveys an image of an all-around successful, accomplished, happy mother who is most commonly white. Popular culture does not convey the same image of mothers who are black, Latina or Asian. Non-white mothers in the media are instead commonly portrayed as single, without spousal support, irresponsible, even raising their children in unsafe environments. The white mother is portrayed as attractive, and furthermore as a ‘good’ mother in terms of her parenting style, whereas the non-white mother is portrayed as financially unstable and unhappy, which ultimately promotes consumers to conclude that their parenting styles are not up to par with those of the white mother.

Television shows and movies commonly depict a white woman as being a happy and successful stay-at-home mom who drives her children to hockey practice and dance lessons, whereas the same television shows and movies will depict a non-white mother as being neglectful to her children because of financial instability.

Furthermore, television and shows and films rarely depict a mother, regardless of race, who works a day job while still successfully supporting her children. It is assumed in media that a man, or a husband, is responsible for supporting the family in terms of income.

The portrayal of mothers in popular culture is therefore unfair and unrealistic due to a favoritism of the white mother, and a lack of focus on non-white and working mothers.

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