Harpers Bazaar reports on the similarities between in-group catchphrases of "wellness mommy bloggers" and the language used by cults. These so-called "momfluencers," who tend to be white and financially privileged, argue that their maternal instincts is more important than those of any doctor. In these online communities, misinformation can spread rapidly.
"There's a certain subset of momfluencers on Instagram who appear, at first glance, to be like any other 'nice white mommies' on the Internet. This particular type of momfluencer smiles gently in reels as she declares, with calm authority, that Western medicine will 'threaten' mothers in order to inject their babies with 'neurotoxins.' She upholds 'free birth' and denounces 'unnatural' hospital births, which are 'designed to sever optimal attachment.' She warns her followers against 'normalizing formula' and urges them to 'break free' from the 'misogyny' of viewing medical practitioners as 'saviors' 'in control' of childbirth."
The piece draws upon principles laid out in linguist Amanda Montell's new book, Cultish.
"Though Montel doesn't focus specifically on momfluencers in Cultish, she does explore the many gray areas of society's "cultish" spaces, devoting chapters to SoulCycle and predatory multilevel marketing companies alongside chapters about Heaven's Gate and Jonestown. Her point in dissecting the linguistic patterns used by each group is to point out that cultishness exists on a spectrum, and using the label of cult in a binary way actually prevents us from clearly understanding how certain groups impact our behavior, our choices, or our daily lives."