Tanning Mom: Behind the Bad Mother witch hunt; even Snooki snipes (+video)
Tanning Mom: Commentators – including the toasted Snooki – are outraged that a young girl would be in a tanning salon, but have you checked out advertisements for children’s clothes recently? A lot of the white girls are tan. Unnaturally so.
The deeply tanned Patricia Krentcil became the latest Bad Mommy of news cycle fame yesterday, accused of putting (and burning) her six-year-old daughter in a tanning booth.Skip to next paragraph
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The New Jersey mom pleaded not guilty to charges of child endangerment, and insisted that although she loved to tan herself she knew better than to put her daughter under the UV rays.
But that did little to stem the nearly gleeful outrage at this latest example of beyond the pale (and yes, people used that pun) parenting. Talk show hosts tsk-ed tsk-ed, and quickly moved into making comments about Ms. Krentcil’s own appearance. (The 44-year-old, whose skin looks unnaturally dark, acknowledged that she is a tanning fanatic.) Even Snooki - that’s the Jersey Shore’s Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, another tanning bed aficionado and apparently now a parenting expert - entered the fray, with some not very polite words to say about Krencil’s mom skills.
It was, all in all, a perfect mommy witch hunt. Which seems to be a favorite, and semi-regular, pastime these days.
There is a standard playbook for a case of the Bad Mommy. It can revolve around celebrity - Britney Spears is great, if she’s available - or just a regular, everyday mom. (Although preferably those Everymoms will be on a reality television show, and involved in something like toddler beauty pageants. But getting caught up in a criminal investigation works fine, too.)
Once the Bad Mommy has committed her outrage - tanning beds, extreme negligence, dressing their girls in tiaras, whatever - then the viewing public wrings its collective hands and wonders how any mother could be so... bad. Talk show hosts denigrate the woman. The Internet world buzzes with indignation. Experts talk about the state of motherhood today.
The problem is that if you look a bit more critically, these women’s actions tend to be pretty darn close to our own.
Journalist and author Peggy Orenstein explores this double standard in one of my favorite parts of her book, “Cinderella Ate My Daughter.”
As part of her research into the Disney Princess phenomenon, Ms. Orenstein spends some time getting to know parents whose young daughters are on the beauty pageant scene. Armed with her own sense of what kind of mom would doll up her prepubescent daughter to strut her little stuff for judges, Orenstein wrote that she fully expected to find these folks, well, crazy at best, disgusting at worst.