The Privileges of the “Non-Toxic” Movement

At 1, my daughter had her first real experience with high fructose corn syrup. It was folded into the silky ribbons of her store-bought smash cakes. Brightly colored to match her birthday theme, she was honestly unimpressed. That day was deep in the pandemic. All we were trying to do was survive and celebrate my girl’s first year of life. I wasn’t stressed over the implications of what dangerous chemicals lay within her birthday treat. I had enough anxiety as it was being a first-time mom. I’m happy to report she is alive and well and unaffected by the introduction of processed sugar.The Privileges of the "Non-Toxic" MovementI’m very familiar with the non-toxic lifestyle that at times borders into snake oil. However, before I continue on my small rant here I want to say that there are a lot of benefits to reducing our consumption of processed food items and excessive use of plastics.

I’m not here to bash a clean lifestyle in the name of doing what you feel is best for your family. I am, however, going to call out the predatory and subtle mom shaming that this non-toxic lifestyle can produce.

I recently stumbled on a post where a mom wrote a dramatic retelling of denying her daughter a treat because of the heavy dyes within it. Great! If you wanna keep your kid away from that stuff, good on you. What I didn’t appreciate was the post laced with judgmental speech. It was word choice that resulted in an “I could never!” attitude. The comments under the post were supportive and carried the same sentiment of predatory businesses tricking our kids into these heavily chemical-laced confections. 

This is just an example of how even the best-laid intentions can lead us to a path of superiority that trespasses into the bubble of mom shaming. I *can* afford the bleach-free toilet paper or the special air filters that promise a home without free-flowing particles that could be giving your kids some disorder I have never heard of. However, my priorities lie in keeping a roof over our heads, food on the table, and a low-anxiety environment that involves my kid getting to be a kid. 

Not every mother can afford a non-toxic lifestyle though.

I’m sure your vegan organic pasta made by the hands of a guy named Greg who worships the sun is delicious. But it’s nearly $9 a box. And groceries are expensive. I’m aware we struggle to get all the nutrition we need. But those $100 vitamins are out of the question. 

Moms are often stressed and tired. They want to just be appreciated for the things they do provide their kids. My child is healthy. She is happy. And she has sprinkles occasionally and has yet to collapse from chemical poisoning.

But I digress. The non-toxic lifestyle can be rooted in good intentions. If it’s one you choose to live. then I commend you for it. However, if you find yourself weighed down with anxiety because it feels as though you’re not doing enough, I’m here to tell you, you’re doing great. 

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Jessie Magee
Hi! I’m Jessie! Born and raised in Central Oklahoma, I am currently enjoying suburban life with my toddler, husband, and a sweet little terrier. I love diving into anything nerdy from engaging in a fantasy novel to playing a tabletop game with friends. I love to make people laugh. Catch me watching a football game, making cookies, or painting dinosaurs with my daughter. My struggles once defined me, but now they help mold me. I want to lift fellow mothers who silently suffer in the shadows. Chronic illness and pain are invisible, but very real. Our battles are tough, but our resolve is strong. You’ll never see me hide my tears, and neither should you.


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