I’m So Over the Elitism of the Crunchy Mama Movement

I am a little bit crunchy. You know what, maybe even a lot crunchy, by modern standards. I breastfed my daughter until she was 18-months-old and only stopped because she was no longer interested. I watch the ingredients in everything we eat like a hawk. I use (mostly) green, organic products in our home and on our bodies, especially when it comes to anything for my daughter. I am not wasteful. I recycle. I prefer open windows to air conditioning. I do yoga damn near every day and I go for natural remedies for common ailments over medicinal ones whenever possible. But you know what? I am over the crunchy mama movement.

It’s not that being “crunchy” or choosing natural over not is a bad thing. It’s not that I wouldn’t love to sit around with y’all and (kindly) compare baby-wearing techniques until the cows come home. Or I guess, wait. We’re all supposed to be vegan too now, so can we even use expressions about cows? I’m not quite sure about all the rules. But I know one thing for sure: The crunchy mama movement has taken a turn. A bad turn, far off course from where it was supposed to go and way far away from the ideals that honestly lie at its heart.


Compassion. Love. Empathy. We display these things for the earth and for our children so why the hell can we not do it for each other? From where I sit, the movement that has exploded and turned movie stars into diaper moguls (okay, yes I use her products, but still!), has turned elitest. It’s turned exclusionary. It’s turned downright nasty and I’m over it.

Recently, a mom’s forum I’m in on Facebook had a poll. We all swap tips on superficial things usually — kid’s clothing tips, budget-friendly travel ideas, and the like. One “crunchy mama” posted inquiring how many fellow crunchies were in the group. Her post was flooded with comments. It all started out cute — the ones who chose formula and strollers over breastmilk and ring slings jokingly referred to themselves as “smooth.” I piped up that I’m crunchy with smooth edges (no cloth diapers — I just never could go there). It was all fun and games until I started reading every single comment. As the day wore on, moms were giving themselves crunch points for rear-facing their toddlers in the car. Scores of other women agreed, suggesting that “smooth” moms turn their kids around too soon. This really frustrated me because it became blindingly clear that the elitist of the all-natural moms were equating “crunchy” with “safety-conscious.” Um, no. That’s not how it works.

Following state laws and best practices when it comes to child safety seats is not a crunchy vs. smooth thing. It’s just a mom thing. Every child is different, and dependent on size I know some moms turn them around before two; but no matter what you’re doing for your home and family, I’ve had enough of the “crunchy mama movement” trying to pretend that they care more about their kids than the rest of us do.

We swiftly moved past car seats to vaccines. The anti-vaxx moms were accusing “smooth” moms of injecting their children with poison. I do not get it, I really do not. I don’t care if you’re making yogurt for that toddler out of your spare breastmilk or standing in line at McDonald’s getting him a happy meal because you just can’t even deal with cooking tonight. I vaccinate my child because I don’t want her, or your child, to die of a disease that should have been eradicated already. I am just about as crunchy as they come in the state of New Jersey, but I will not back down from this stance and I certainly will not be accused of poisoning her in an effort to keep her healthy and alive.

It goes beyond the vaccines, of course. And even beyond the car seats. The crunchy mama movement is grand when you consider that our generation of mothers is helping to lessen society’s carbon footprint. It’s also lovely to see, in an age where technology reigns supreme, slow living is making a bit of a comeback. Recycling, consuming less, avoiding meat or only eating carefully sourced meats, sure. This is all great. But it is not okay — ever — to accuse another mom of not caring about safety because she isn’t “crunchy.” To equate moms who choose anything from Column B (whether that’s formula, Clorox, or vaccines) of not caring about their kids the same way you do.

We need to understand and agree that we are all doing this motherhood thing the best we can and no one is better than someone else because they choose something different. I don’t sleep in bed with my child but that doesn’t mean I don’t love her and it also doesn’t mean that you are weird for co-sleeping. We’re just different.

I’ve been attacked by members of the crunchy army many times. From my emergency C-section to the brand of diapers we use (apparently not earthy-friendly enough for Queen Crunch), anything is fair game. I always felt too intimidated to speak up for myself and would go home at night and tell my husband about it while hot tears fell into my much-deserved glass of (NON-ORGANIC) red wine. Men don’t do this to each other, apparently. He and his friends have no idea how each other are parenting — all they care about is how they can bro-up and bring the kids along for football Sunday without annoying or neglecting their wives in the process.

But now I’m done caring, too. At least about what you think. And I’m done being silent when I hear someone say that being crunchy means you care more about your kid than the next woman, or that since you rear-face your 4-year-old, you’re a better mom than I am. I’m just over it. Now, I leave the groups that are flooded with your kind and I make an effort to reach out to the “smooths” you attempt to reduce to nothing. Mom-bashing didn’t start with our generation, but I sure hope it ends with us. So, if you’re looking for someone to do yoga with and chat about hemp smoothies, I’m totally your girl. But the minute the judgement talk starts up, I’m out. Namaste.

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