Last night, once my work was finished and the children were in bed, I settled myself down on the sofa to watch some TV.
I didn't fancy anything that required too much thought or concentration - I fancied something easy to watch that would keep me entertained for an hour before bed - I flicked through and found "Blinging Up Baby" on channel 5.
So there I sat, munching my way through my body weight in cheese & onion crisps, happily watching the latest episode which followed 3 mums from different parts of the UK - all quite different but all sharing one common trait - they liked to "Bling up" their babies.
The babies in question this week were all girls - all aged around 1 - and the mums talked about how they loved to spend all of their money on designer clothes and accessories for the kids, one mum liked to match her daughters outfits to hers & her husbands, another mum was a dance instructor and spoke about how she desperately wanted her daughter to become a famous dancer, another young mum who had given birth at 15 or 16 spoke about why the way she dressed her daughter was important to her - about how she felt it was important to teach her to take pride in her appearance and encourage her to be confident in herself.
Some of the outfits they chose were not to my taste - there were lots of frills and a whole load of diamantes going on! - but clearly the Mums liked their choices and enjoyed dressing their kids that way.
Some of them spent a VERY large amount of money on the items - not something I'd personally choose to do but hey - their money, their choice right?
Once the programme ended...I was about to carry on living my life without further thought to it...but I was bored so I decided to take a quick look at the hashtag they'd just advertised to discuss the show on twitter.
And I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
Tweets going out from all kinds of people - some hurling insults and abuse in the direction of these mums, some stating that the show was "distressing" to watch and that these mums were "Vile people".
I wondered if I'd been watching a different show.
What am I missing here?!
Was there a part of the show that I didn't see where one of these mothers physically harmed her child?! Did any of them say that they choose to buy their children expensive outfits instead of food?!
I don't think so.
Now I should make it clear here that I have only seen ONE episode of this show which was last nights, so I can not comment on anyone who has featured on it prior to that (I believe the episode the week before showed a babies ears being pierced which is an entirely different debate) but to see people stating that this particular episode was "Distressing" and "shocking" made ME feel shocked that people think that something as superficial as THIS is something to be so upset over?
Do you KNOW what happens to some children in this country?! Do you know how many children live in neglect or in abusive homes? I'm talking proper, terrifying physical and sexual abuse....THAT is what's distressing and shocking...a mother choosing to dress her children in expensive or extravagant clothes really isn't!
I saw comments made on one young mums reasoning for dressing her child as she does - how she wanted to encourage her to see herself as beautiful and have confidence - do I think she's a little misguided on how to do that? Yes...perhaps.
Do I think it's up to an army of social media users to attack and berate her for this? NO.
No I absolutely do not.
Did anything in that show suggest that social services needs to assess these families? Are these children at any risk? No...not from anything that was shown last night they're not.
And as for stooping to comments about "single mums" and the age a person becomes a mother having any bearing on their mothering skills - well how insulting can you actually get?!
What happened to mothers supporting each other?!
And then of course came the tweets from people choosing to dress their children exclusively in Primark or charity shop clothes and hand-me-downs and stating it as though this somehow makes them a superior parent because they're not superficial...
This I find particularly annoying and its an opinion that spreads across society - I personally choose to spend a fair amount of money on my childrens clothes and I like to buy them new - I don't WANT to buy them from charity shops or car boot sales - that is MY choice. It is MY money I'm spending. So WHY do people get to make assumptions about my parenting based on that?
Assumptions that I won't allow them to get dirty or play in the mud? Of course I will!
My children look like they've been dragged backwards through a field of melted crayons, chocolate and dirt at the end of every single day - do I care? No. I wash the bloody clothes!!! And if the stains don't come out...I throw them away or keep them for messy play clothes and think "Oh well".
Just like people who buy their clothes from jumble sales or charity shops do.
It DOESN'T matter to me.
There were even tweets from people stating that they were glad their parents had dressed them in hand-me-downs as it forced them to develop a personality instead of relying on their appearance - I'm sorry, WHO is judgemental arsehole in this scenario?! I argue that YOU, the tweeter, are the one passing judgement on someones appearance and choice of clothing here.
Why does your opinion on the way someone chooses to dress their child even matter?! Why do you feel that its your right to judge a persons life and mothering skills based on an hour long heavily edited TV show and then publically declare your opinion to the world via social media? Who died and made you God of the universe?!!
I felt enraged after that show last night - but not because of the people on it - because of the armchair judges so ready & willing to spread their vitriolic rants around with no shame or thought for those on the receiving end.
At the end of the day, these are real people. They are mothers. And from what I saw - they are mothers who love their children very much - yes they may choose to dress them differently to most people, to spend more money, to do things in a different way - but to call them "vile people" for that....REALLY??!!
People who don't wash their kids are vile people.
People who don't feed their children are vile people.
People who abuse and attack their children are vile people.
People who like to dress their babies up in extravagant clothes and have slightly misguided views on how to instill confidence in a child are not vile people....
People who are so quick to publically shame & attack those people....I'm not so sure about....I think that's pretty "vile" actually.
In my opinion, this is just another form of bullying - it's Daily Mail Culture all over again - just like those infamous commenters on the Mail Online who exist purely to tear the people in the articles to shreds - Twitter is now the place that everyone apparently heads to vent their holier-than-thou opinions on anyone they see on TV without being discerning enough to consider how these shows are edited to show people in the worst possible light, how leading questions are asked by interviewers to make for the most entertaining possible statements...
In my opinion, these tv twitter hashtags and those who so love to join in with them and so venomously attack the people they watch are everything that's wrong with society today.
For Gods sake, if you want to get irate about something read the news and throw that opinionated voice of yours behind something that ACTUALLY matters.
(*I realise the same could be said for me about this post....so now I'll shut up! But I feel much better for getting that off my chest....bullying and attacking people. in ANY form, is just not something thats ok with me)
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