Remember how parents used to raise children without the "help" of endless commentary from virtual peanut galleries?
Neither do we, just checking to see if you remembered.
We are definitely in the thick of an it-takes-a-village era, never mind that 99 percent of the village is made up of strangers who are only too excited to weigh in, one, on issues that don't concern them and, two (and far more frequently), on issues that don't exist.
Celebrities are, of course, their favorite target.
Kristin Cavallari, who turned reality-TV stardom into a fashion career and a blooming lifestyle brand, is no stranger to stirring up controversy, but she was probably quite shocked to see what commenters had to say about a photo she posted of sons Camden and Jaxon with their dad, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, taken last week while the family was on vacation.
A photo posted by Kristin Cavallari (@kristincavallari) on
There's not much left alongside the Instagram pic but supportive comments now, but that's because the mother of three had to go on a blocking spree after a parade of remarks charged that her boys looked too skinny.
"Seeing pictures of your boys and how they look is a bit shocking to see! I know you cook healthy but to see the bones just doesn't seem normal, sorry!" read one comment, posted by someone who was probably not at all sorry.
It got nasty enough that the former Laguna Beach star, who knows what haterade tastes like, thoroughly scrubbed the comments—but did not delete the photo, proof that she agrees with her supporters that the shamers (be they thin-shaming or parent-shaming) had really dreamed this one up out of nowhere.
"Yep, I starve my children. Just blocked the most people I've ever blocked in my entire life. Happy 4th hahaha," Cavallari laughed it off yesterday in another comment.
Cue the hundreds of people who encouraged her to ignore the haters.
"my son eats like a horse and remains thin like this because he's active and not just sitting around. Get a grip people. Not your kids, not your business. Hope you had a great beach day with the family :)" read one of the more astute comments.
Added silverlining.sam: "Apparently, posting a sweet family photo gives everyone the right to pass judgement and tell you everything you are doing wrong."
And another, who put it bluntly, "your boys look absolutely perfect! My son is so thin and eats like a 500 pound man! You keep them active and healthy and they are adorable! You're a great mom. F--k the haters."
Interestingly, many of the sweeter commenters also lamented that it's a shame how overweight seems to be the new normal for kids. Which makes me wonder if a different type of shaming was lurking just a click away, just cloaked for now within their appreciation for the skinnier people of the world.
But so it goes. And goes and goes...
The "concern" for the Cavallari-Cutler family's diet continued today, prompting Mom to tweet this morning, "I love that people are sending me articles about the dangers of being a vegan. Maybe send it to someone that's actually vegan."
Just as is the case whenever Twitter goes full blast on a celebrity for a misguided tweet or any unfortunate choice of words, or a regular tweet, or crying out of happiness, or going outside, etc., this is another example of entirely misplaced energy.
Vigilance and awareness, especially when it comes to children, whether they're ours or not, is important. Child abuse and neglect are real problems, and that's why parents, teachers, administrators, law enforcement and other authorities are supposed to pay attention and do their due diligence to make sure the kids they come into contact with are not being mistreated. Horrible things can happen when the support system that's supposed to be in place for children fails.
It's not as though there haven't been crappy celebrity parents in history, or that bad things haven't happened to the children of famous people.
But really, Internet? Your big theory is that Jay Cutler and Kristin Cavallari's kids are malnourished?
A photo posted by Kristin Cavallari (@kristincavallari) on
Is this the same group that weighed in when Suri Cruise was holding a bottle when she was 2 1/2 (or 4)? Who thinks nursing mothers should button up and keep it indoors? Who were quick to tell Ryan Reynolds he was carrying his daughter wrong? Who were up in arms when Chrissy Teigen went to...dinner?
Sadly, the shaming epidemic continues, having spread from the already inappropriate arena of body image and weight into the sacred confines of parenting and people's children. All inexcusable—though at the very least it's given nontoxic people more chances to say nice things. (Because, in case we hadn't noticed, it's also a lot easier to stand up and say nice things when we're responding to someone who has said something heinous or otherwise unfair.)
Celebrities and other public figures are usually the ones on the receiving end of most of the unsolicited advice—if not downright vitriol—that people have apparently been storing up for years in the hopes that someone would come up with an easy, convenient way to communicate every thought they've ever had to the entire world in mere seconds.
Stars are used to that, and most have come to begrudging terms with the pitfalls of celebrity. Namely, strangers paying attention to everything you do.
And when celebs choose to open up or otherwise share snippets of their personal lives on social media, in comes the commentary. Many factors are at play: The know-it-all factor. The jealousy factor. The indignant "what-do-you-know?" factor.
But while a new brand of criticism—let's call it success-shaming—has arisen in response to cookbooks, blogs, apps and other means by which stars let it be known that they're not just like us, most will admit to not having all the answers, if any at all. They only know what works for them and often are happy for tips from those with more experience.
Some of the rich and famous have been accused of sounding out of touch, if not downright clueless, about the life that the majority of mothers lead. Most people have no time to labor over homemade, organic, gluten-free meals or whip up goat's milk-based formula, let alone pay for such things.
"I'm sure if I would just be sitting and talking about my experiences with other mothers, we would just be sharing opinions," Gisele Bündchen, now a mother of two, wrote in 2010 after catching heat for suggesting that there should be a law that made breastfeeding mandatory for the first six months of a baby's life.
"I understand that everyone has their own experience and opinions and I am not here to judge. I believe that bringing a life into this world is the single most important thing a person can undertake and it can also be the most challenging. I think as mothers we are all just trying our best."
Cavallari admitted in her book Balancing in Heels to being "psycho about reading every single label" on the food her family consumes. But she wasn't demanding that everyone else do the same. Though there will be those who assume, by the act of writing a book, that's exactly what she was doing.
But while we reserve the right to seek out our favorite celebs on social media and interact with them as we see fit, maybe we can also stick to paying attention to matters that really require our attention—ourselves, our own families, our own business, the really sorrowful things taking place in the world, et al. There might even be some issues out there that require more tweets, not less.
What we do know, for absolute certain, is that what Kristin Cavallari feeds her children is not one of them.