We’re Calling It: 2023 Is the Year Moms Enter Their Villain Era

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Here’s a fact: Women are getting angrier. You probably suspected as much already, but now there’s actual research to back up the torrent of angry face emojis in your group chat. According to a BBC analysis of 10 years of data from the Gallup World Poll, women consistently report feeling negative emotions more than men.

This isn’t exactly surprising—there’s a lot for women to be angry about (the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the tampon shortage, the disproportionate mental load, to name a few grievances). And while the poll speaks to women as a whole, it’s not hard to imagine that moms in particular have cause to be thoroughly pissed off. Remember the formula shortage? How about the pandemic that drove millions of mothers out of the workforce to take on childcare duties? Add in a lack of maternity leave and affordable quality day care and it’s no wonder that moms have literally been left screaming in rage.

Screaming is good, but taking action is better. If society doesn’t value mothers, it’s high time that moms prioritize themselves. We’re not talking about self-care, which for moms often amounts to nothing more than cashing in that coupon for “free hugs” that your family gave you for Mother’s Day or a quick child-free trip to Target. We’re talking about putting the soothing, gentle parenting tones to the side and making some noise. Squashing the selfless mother trope and embracing selfishness. Not just being pissed off but being OK with potentially pissing other people off.  In other words, moms are entering their villain era.

Originating from TikTok, the concept of a villain era isn’t as wicked as the name suggests but instead refers to asserting boundaries, communicating your needs and advocating for yourself—something that doesn’t always come easy to women who are used to prioritizing everyone else’s needs above their own (aka moms).

Of course, as TikTok user @padzdey explains, not everyone is going to embrace your newfound assertiveness. “And I think what unfortunately happens is that when you’re a people pleaser, that isn’t often well received by the people around you because it is such a drastic change in your behavior. And folks around you might start to feel like they aren’t getting the same you that they used to get out of the relationship and as though their needs aren’t being met.”

The video continues: “I think some people will understand and really be happy for you that you’re doing this for yourself. But sometimes it’s—and I don’t think it’s rooted in maliciousness—I do think that sometimes a lot of fallouts can happen because of this, because suddenly now there’s like a disconnect, right. What someone may be used to, they’re not receiving anymore, and then comes in being perceived as a villain.”

But here’s the thing—if a villain’s origin story comes from having boundaries and taking care of their mental health, well that doesn’t make for a particularly compelling bad guy in our book. In fact, that sounds like the foundations of the story weren’t working that well in the first place.

Yes, Parents Are Burnt Out. But We Also Need to Stop Calling It “Burnout”

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Executive Editor

Alexia Dellner is an executive editor at PureWow who has over ten years of experience covering a broad range of topics including health, wellness, travel, family, culture and...