That said, there has long been a pay gap between what a lot of those influencers make and what their white counterparts make. In episode 7, we’re really diving deep into that pay gap and why that happened, what it means, and how influencers being really transparent about what they’re paid can force brands to pay influencers of color the same as they have been paying white influencers. Tina told me she got paid $850 for a campaign that a white woman was getting paid $2000 for. [That disparity] wasn’t based on follower numbers, but on what those companies thought was more appealing.
The majority of mom influencers try very hard to be politically neutral in their posts. If they are religious, it’s often in their profile bio, but there’s not a lot of Jesus speak in their actual posts. They’re neutral in the way that a national magazine is—or was until more recently. The mom influencers are trying not to offend anyone because they’re a business. While we think we’re seeing everything in someone’s life, we’re not. There is a lot that these people keep private.
Who are your favorite mom influencers to follow and what products have such accounts gotten you to buy?
I followed Naomi Davis for a long time, and Courtney Adamo, who is on the podcast. And Eva Amurri, who is Susan Sarandon’s daughter. Product-wise: I painted my whole house Simply White by Benjamin Moore. I bought a ton of Everyday Oil. I bought a rug from Ruggable. I got Comotomo products. I bought all natural rubber pacifiers that promise that your kid will never get cancer and metal feeding bowls that look like dog bowls because, again, the mom influencers were telling me that plastic was bad for my kid. I got, like, three different kinds of baby slings. I bought the Solly baby wrap. These things make motherhood look beautiful, right? And I’m like, “I just want to look beautiful again.”
I wouldn’t remember a lot of it either. A package would arrive and I’d be like, “I didn’t order this. Someone is sending things.” Most moms will understand this: Being awake in the middle of the night with a screaming baby is kind of like being blackout drunk.
I’m very cognizant of the privilege that I occupy as an author and a content creator, but I still see a precariousness in this career path. I have to hustle so hard to be able to maintain what I’m doing right now. That’s terrifying to me as someone who very much does, in conjunction with my husband, support my family financially. When I realized how much money was involved in the mom influencer industry, I was like, “Why am I not trying this?” I hired a professional photographer to shoot a month of content in a single day. My kids didn’t behave. My husband didn’t behave. No one wanted to do this. And, frankly, by the time I switched outfits three times in front of everyone in my house, I was just like, “I’m tired.” There’s a talent there that I don’t have.
Has your reporting of this world inspired any future fiction projects?
I’ll put this out into the world: I have thought about a half-hour comedy where a perfectly okay mediocre mother like me loses her job and needs to support her family, so she tries to create a fake life on Instagram. Somehow it blows up and she becomes this incredible mom influencer by completely faking it. Everyone in her real life knows she’s a farce and it’s ridiculous, but online she’s this picture perfect mother. She has to figure out how to keep that going. Because it’s a sitcom, it will take us into this mom influencer world with all of the craziness, some of it good, some of it bad, and really play with these ideas of motherhood that are hilarious—and also dark as fuck.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.