By Stacy Morrison Wednesday, July 8, 2009
As a mother, a woman, and editor of a magazine for 10 million women and moms like me (and not like me), I find it hard not to be amused by the constant handwringing in the media and advertising worlds about how best to talk to "moms." Because more often than not, they end up talking at us. At times, we feel reduced to a tidy pile of demographics and household statistics that effectively erase all the unique distinction we women are each so proud to possess.
People often ask me who the Redbook reader is. I used to answer, "Which one? There are at least five" - before launching into a breakdown of types: the young professional women balancing work and home in suburban or metropolitan areas; the even younger stay-at-home moms in the exurbs who married out of high school or during college; the aspirational can't-wait-to-marrys all over the country, and so forth.
But as I got better at listening to our audience, and as I got to meet them - on Facebook, through Twitter, through redbookmag.com, through the blogs so many of them keep, in person at mall events and so on - I realized there were millions of different kinds of our readers out there. And, that what made the Harley moms, the stitch-and-bitch moms, the widowed moms, single moms, two-times-married moms, the breast-cancer-survivor moms distinct from each other was a much more vital way of making them feel included in everything we do than what made them the same.
Through my own Facebook page - which I invited our readers to join, as well as the magazine's fan page - I see the daily ups and downs of what we call "grown-up life": the disgruntled posts after a hurry-up morning has gone awry; joyful greetings to friends, who are the lifeboats in busy women's lives; the celebration of small joys, like a sunny day or a cheap pair of shoes, each of these a shout-out to be heard and witnessed before another day jammed to the hilt with "to-dos" flies by.
Yes, we moms want to be witnessed, to spend some time on our "to-be" list, instead of merely living our "to-do" list, to get to be women first sometimes, just for ourselves. We get to be a "mom and" these days, not "just a stay-at-home mom" or a "working mom," but a mom and a yoga teacher, a mom and an entrepreneur, a mom and a community organizer, a mom and a beauty addict, a mom and a church leader, a mom and so much more. And the only way for a marketer to learn the "so much more" is to open your ears (and your email in-box, and your Facebook page, and your whatever else you can imagine) and ask the question: "Hello, who are you?" And then listen.
What I hear back through all these channels - and then publish in the magazine, on the web site, in our mobile phone applications, and everywhere else Redbook is - is the lovely, joyful sound of women finding their way in a complicated world, putting their unique fingerprints on everything they do, and, most inspiring of all, standing by to support other moms and women as they find their own way.
I have learned so much about who this group is by listening in on their individual conversations, and I have been able to make the magazine and all its properties feel more rich and inclusive because of it. But the best part is being included in the conversation: To be a magazine editor and a woman and a mom.