Why being a mother is so profitable on Instagram

Jul 14, 2021

Last week I learnt from an Elizabeth Day column that a top modelling agency is apparently encouraging its ‘older girls’ (that’s models in their late 20s…) to get pregnant.


Seemingly, that’s where the money is!

‘[The] baby influencer Insta market is earning more than runways and fashion campaigns are today, she writes.

I found it VERY interesting.

Motherhood has after all long been perceived as the opposite of everything that the hard market stands for, and now SUDDENLY being a mum has THIS kind of commercial weight?!

What’s going on?

The 2010s was a decade in which the Western world was OBSESSED with motherhood. Which female celebrities were pregnant, fertile, or infertile, and how they chose to raise their children or not were all huge talking points. (I’m sure in the future we’ll look back and have some VERY interesting conversations about how we worshiped WEALTH, WHITENESS, YOUTH, BEAUTY and MOTHERHOOD in this particular combination on Instagram.)

We also saw more and more women building businesses around their identities as mothers. Your marriage and your children could suddenly become a very profitable career, if you were skilled at photographing them and writing about them online. You don’t need to choose between a professional identity and an identity as a mother! That was the new promise the social media economy dangled in front of women.

In my book Mother of Invention I talk (briefly) about how this new social media economy was built almost entirely on the ability to create emotional connections with “audiences”. And it’s not surprising that many women found themselves to be good at this. After all, being liked by others has for centuries been an economic necessity for women in a way that it hasn’t for men.

Women have not had the same possibilities of economic independence.

When the modelling agencies advise their models to become Instagram-mothers I don’t think it even is about the babies. I think the agencies see it as a strategy for their models to become more RELATABLE. By having a baby the beautiful model can transform herself from unattainable woman to someone a consumer can relate to. Motherhood has become a way of combining the glamour of celebrity with the Internet’s demand for intimacy. And that’s why there’s money in it!

BUT don’t forget:

Yes, many of the highest paid influencers on Instagram are women…

But Instagram is still OWNED by a male billionaire.

That’s where the BIG money is…

Happy Thursday!


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