‘Queen of Mommy Bloggers’ Heather Armstrong dies at 47
HEATHER Armstrong, a pioneering blogger who transformed women’s media and altered the public perception of motherhood, died this week at the age of 47.
Armstrong, who also went by her maiden name, Heather Hamilton, died by suicide, her boyfriend, Pete Ashdown, said. He told the Associated Press that he found her at their Salt Lake City home on Tuesday night.
Ashdown said Armstrong had recently relapsed into alcoholism after remaining sober for more than 18 months.
Armstrong was born on July 19, 1975, and grew up in Memphis, before majoring in English at Brigham Young University in Utah. She graduated in 1997 and moved to Los Angeles for work before marrying web designer Jon
Armstrong and returning to Salt Lake City.
She founded the blog Dooce in 2001. It quickly amassed a dedicated following of young mothers who found Armstrong’s candid and deeply personal posts about the realities of motherhood captivating.
“She was a transformative figure, not just in the parenting and family space, but in what we now take for granted in terms of the digital ecosystem,” said Catherine Connors, the senior vice president of creator experiences at the marketing firm Raptive and a former blogger.
“She was one of the first wellknown bloggers in any category, and had an absolutely radical impact when she began writing honestly about
motherhood and her mental health issues.”
Armstrong detailed her struggles with post-partum depression, her conflicted emotions about parenting, her battles with alcoholism, her marriage and her eventual divorce.
She broke taboos about religion, detailing her choice to leave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her death was announced on her Instagram page on Wednesday.
Armstrong is credited by many for upending a women’s media world that until the early 2000s largely portrayed an idealised version of motherhood, a time when home life was considered private, and issues related to family and children were deemed too personal to discuss publicly.
Mommy bloggers, most notably Armstrong, changed that, said Connors. In the pre-blogging era, she said: “You got really sanitised parenting magazines and baby books and things that did not tell you the truth about the experience of motherhood …
“The whole domain of media around parenting was male-dominated, and when it focused on women it was sanitised … (Armstrong) used her platform to completely destigmatise issues like post-partum depression, divorce and all these things we totally take for granted now.”
The term “mommy blogger” that was bestowed on Armstrong and many other female bloggers at the time was fraught, with many women feeling it was misogynistic and pejorative. But Armstrong shattered the perceptions.
Blogging gave women a space where they could speak for themselves and build audiences outside corporate media.
When Armstrong decided to run ads on her blog in 2004, she became one of the first to monetise a personal brand on the Internet, paving the way for generations of influencers to follow.
“It was empowering,” she told Vox in 2019, “because I realised I didn’t need some male executive in New York to tell me that my story’s important enough to publish, because I can just do it myself.”
In 2009, Armstrong wrote a book,
It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I had a baby, a breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita.
That year, she appeared as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and was named the most influential woman in the media by Forbes.
In 2012, she released her second book, Dear Daughter.
At one point, Armstrong’s blog was reportedly attracting more than 8 million viewers a month, and her earnings from it totalled $30 000 (about R560 000) to $50 000 a month.
“Every influencer, every family channel, every monetised site trying to maintain an existence as a form of independent media can trace its history back to Dooce,” the blogger known as SB Sarah wrote. “She was more famous than the biggest channels on Tiktok, more famous than the Youtubers with the most subscribers.”
Her final post, dated April 6, 2023, talks about her struggles with sobriety and depression.
“Early sobriety resembles living life as a clam without its shell,” she wrote.
She is survived by her two children, Leta Elise, 19, and Marlo Iris, 14. |
African News Agency