The story behind this viral photo shows why mom-shaming needs to stop

It was just one tiny fraction of a moment, captured in time. And it didn't look good.

Back in 2016, a man in a Colorado airport took a photo of a mom browsing her cellphone, her young infant squirming on a blanket on the ground in front of her. His original post (which has since been removed) was uploaded to Facebook with the caption: "Albert Einstein said, 'I fear the day that technology will take on our humanity ... the world will be populated by a generation of idiots.'"

Sure, absent any context, background, or explanation, the photo seemed to show a mom so uninterested in her child she'd rather check Facebook than pick her up off the floor.


But is that really what was happening?

Once the photo hit the internet, it went viral — and out came the pitchforks. The mom, Molly Lensing, was under attack.

Suddenly Lensing's parenting skills were being questioned by thousands of strangers online. She was labeled an "idiot" and a "terrible parent" by commenters. Her photo became the "parenting fail" of the week.

But in an interview with Today, Lensing says those people didn't know the whole story.

At the moment that the photo was taken, Lensing's flights had been delayed for almost an entire day — 20 hours, to be exact — due to a computer systems issue. Her infant daughter, Anastasia, "had been held or in her carrier for many hours," Lensing explained. "My arms were tired. She needed to stretch."

As for the cellphone? "I had to communicate with all the family members wondering where the heck we were," she said. Perfectly reasonable, right?

But here's the thing:

It shouldn't matter that Lensing had a "good explanation." Mom-shaming has got to stop.

The man who took Lensing's photo did not ask her permission, did not know her, and certainly had no idea what her day up until that moment was like. He had no way of knowing what she was doing on her phone. He had no idea that Lensing is actually a pediatric nurse.

Not all moms go viral and get flooded with thousands of hateful messages from around the world, but a recent study shows that over two-thirds of moms have been criticized to some degree for their parenting decisions.

Nearly everything seems to be fair game: formula instead of breastfeeding, breastfeeding in public, yelling or not yelling, letting kids watch videos on iPads, not doing enough to keep them occupied at restaurants. And, apparently, taking your eyes off your kid for a few minutes to send an important text message and to give them a bit of time to stretch out on the floor.

Sarah Clark, the co-director of the mom-shaming study (officially titled "Mom shaming or constructive criticism? Perspective of mothers"), suggested to Yahoo! that, while there are a few hard rights and wrongs in parenting ("don't let your kids eat razor blades," for example, is an obvious hard right), disagreements in the gray areas can cause some parents to doubt their decisions and lash out defensively.

Collectively, we've all got to do better.

"I know that I am the best momma to my girls, and I know that I cherish them and am raising them the best I can," Lensing said, now a year or so removed from her viral moment.

It's all any of us can do, so let's start cutting each other a little bit of slack.

True

This year more than ever, many families are anticipating an empty dinner table. Shawn Kaplan lived this experience when his father passed away, leaving his mother who struggled to provide food for her two children. Shawn is now a dedicated volunteer and donor with Second Harvest Food Bank in Middle Tennessee and encourages everyone to give back this holiday season with Amazon.

Watch the full story:

Over one million people in Tennessee are at risk of hunger every day. And since the outbreak of COVID-19, Second Harvest has seen a 50% increase in need for their services. That's why Amazon is Delivering Smiles and giving back this holiday season by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Second Harvest to feed those hit the hardest this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local food bank or charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

via Brittany Kinley / Facebook

Brittany Kinley, a mother from Mansfield, Texas, had a hilarious mom fail her and she's chalking it up to being just another crazy thing that happened in 2020.

When Kinley filled out the order form for her son Mason's kindergarten class pictures, there was an option to have his name engraved into the photos. But Kinley wasn't interested in having her son's name on the photos so she wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" on the box.

Well, it appears as though she should have left the box blank because the computer or incredibly literal human that designed the photographs wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" where mason's name should be.

Keep Reading Show less
True

A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
popular

Funny how a 'new' male problem is a very old problem for women. Amy Poehler explains.

Not many people are brave enough to talk back to the guy who co-created "Chappelle's Show" when he says something kinda clueless. But not many people are Amy Poehler.

Men struggle to comprehend the pressures women feel. The same is true of women!

Gah! We'll never get along.

This conversation between comedian Neal Brennan and Amy Poehler is a pretty good example of how hard it can be to figure life out sometimes.

Neal, the genius who co-created "Chappelle's Show," sat down with Amy for his show "The Approval Matrix." The topic? WHAT are men supposed to be now? Cool? Adorkable? Both? Neither?

Keep Reading Show less
via UDOT / Facebook

In December 2018, The Utah Department of Transportation opened the largest wildlife overpass in the state, spanning 320 by 50 feet across all six lanes of Interstate 80.

Its construction was intended to make traveling through the I-80 corridor in Summit County safer for motorists and the local wildlife.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that there were over 100 animal incidents on the interstate since 2016, giving the stretch of highway the unfortunate nickname of "Slaughter Row."

Keep Reading Show less