Living an authentic life and advocating for what I believe in...
Burning man has been a tremendous influence on my life and cultivating how I show up in my work and mission. I am Bianca Snyder, also known as High Society Mama on social media. I also am the owner of SOCIETY’s Plant. Somehow, my family became the poster children of Burner parents and honestly I’m not upset about it. I feel it represents our parenting and the ethos we want to raise our son with in his everyday life.
With my husband, Tad (aka High Society Papa) by my side, I know we are excellent parents (despite what the internet via Bored Panda has to say about it). I’ve said it before- that non-conforming is my jam and I hope to spread that confidence to others. It is ok to own your uniqueness and teach that same confidence and lack of concern for what others think of us, to our kids.
Overcoming the Stigmas of Burning Man with Kids, Parents using Cannabis and Extended Breastfeeding
A STIGMA is when someone views you in a negative way because of a distinguishing characteristic or personal trait thought to be, or actually is, a disadvantage (a negative stereotype).
I see similarities between the stigmas around bringing a child to Burning Man, extended breastfeeding and the act of consuming cannabis as a Mom. There’s power in the confidence and security of knowing your choice is something you believe in and brings value to your life. The external inputs of judgment by others & not fitting in, should not matter when we live our authentic life, being true to our values.
Prior to High Society Mama, I brought my son to Burning Man for years. I was shamed and criticized for my choice, but when I had made the decision that I will parent the way I WANT TO and NOT the way the norms tell me I should, I felt liberated.
Stigma of Bringing a Child to a “Drug Festival” like Burning Man
My family was featured in an article by the New York Post about bringing your kids to Burning Man. The New York Post article, titled: Babies and Diapers are Replacing Sex & Drugs at Burning Man is pretty great, but also ridiculous, at the same time. I have NEVER questioned HOW I would protect my child from “tech moguls tripping on mushrooms.” That is just feeding into drug propaganda to instill fear in society for what is an area that we can explore and expand our consciousness as humans. Nothing to fear here, people!
Babies & Diapers Replace Sex & Drugs at Burning Man
That headline is a bit over the top, but hey, if it gets clicks and maybe entices people to consider an alternative way of being and parenting, then I am cool with it. My family works hard to normalize cannabis use, particularly for parents and I try to assist others in being confident in their choices to consume plant medicine. I do not think that cannabis is a drug and I also do not think that sex is bad. I hope that babies and diapers never replace the culturally unique experience of Burning Man. There is so much more that Burning Man offers than to minimize it down to sex and drugs. The art, people, magic, mystery, awe and abundance of love and creativity are just a few things that supersede sex, drugs, babies or diapers!
Burning Man Ethos
Burning Man holds the most incredibly unique community of humans I have ever come across on earth. There are principals that everyone is encouraged to follow to keep the community safe. One principle of Burning Man is de-commodification and I know I will likely be criticized by someone for “using Burning Man to further my business”, but here is the deal…
We NEED more of Burning Man’s culture and ethos spread through the world. The only way that can happen is through sharing what we learn from the experience, with others! So, that is what I am doing. I have personally gained a lot of value from my experiences of Burning Man and being part of this community has helped to shape who I am today. I will not feel any shame for sharing about that!
Fighting the stigma of cannabis, breastfeeding and alternative lifestyles
I have long been a big proponent of breastfeeding (and extended breastfeeding). I have had many of my Burning Man breastfeeding pictures featured in breastfeeding groups and also on Bored Panda, which brought out all the haters to poo poo on extended breastfeeding, as well as shaming us for bringing a child to a “drug festival”. None of this is going to stop me from advocating and doing my thing. Those haters are not going to stop me living my life.
Mom shaming: breastfeeding & cannabis
Mom shaming is a hot topic and I have personally felt the wrath from advocating that mothers can use cannabis, breastfeed and also bring our kids to festivals. I posted this breastfeeding image on my personal instagram account @biancastribe to join in the #breastfeedwithoutfear efforts to normalize breastfeeding. This epic pic made the cover shot for the craziest shot of the Bored Panda: 110 Epic Photos From Burning Man 2018 That Prove It’s The Craziest Festival In The World
Judgment for Moms Breastfeeding
Bored panda pegged my picture on the COVER of the 100 Craziest Pics of Burning Man. Some of the hurtful comments on the Bored Panda image of me breastfeeding my 22 month old included:
“It makes me sad for the child to be brought up in this depraved environment. Please help this child and his parents, Lord. They don't understand what they do, please open their eyes to see things as You see them. In Jesus name, Amen.”
“Four year old sucking on his mums boob??? If they're old enough to walk over & grab it then its time for a sippy cup. Jeez, its enough for lads to know they were breastfed by mum without having an actual memory of it!? Sort it out”
“Isn't that kid a little old to be breast feeding? Gross”
“Yes. He is [too old]. And what kind of crap parents haul a little kid to a week-long drug-fest in the middle of the desert?”
“Why is her pre-teen suckling her breast? Whilst kissing her husband?”
What bothered me most about this the comments on my featured photos was the open criticism and JUDGMENT by (non-educated on breastfeeding) non-parents about the AGE I breastfed until. In this image my son was only 22 months, which is absolutely NOT abnormal to breastfeed through (except maybe in the USA)! I honestly wanted to write to each person to say that I actually breastfed for another 14 months past this date, for a total of just over 3 years. This is a serious feat and a proud accomplishment that I was openly shamed for. As frustrating as this may be, it has only fueled my fire to further advocate for the openness, education and normalizing of breastfeeding!
There is so much normalizing of the taboo that I aspire to do in my lifetime!
Living a life outside the Norm
We regularly “live outside the norm”. When my son was born, we traveled to Mexico when he was a few weeks old, then to Guatemala, India, Iceland and Colombia before he was 6mo old. We brought him to Burning Man when he was 10mo & many more festivals. But, through all that I never felt the amount of criticism that I did from a breastfeeding photo taken at a "drug festival" when I was breastfeeding.
Looking back, I realize how this prepared me for my work on High Society Mama and advocating to normalize parents consuming cannabis. With High Society Mama, I show that I am confident in my choices & I want to inspire Moms to build confidence in their choices.
BREASTFEEDING is NATURAL. So WHY is the stigma?
Breastfeeding is HARD. It’s inconvenient for some. Snap back culture & working Moms don’t mesh with extended breastfeeding. There are no corporations backing it or capitalism driving it. I work to SUPPORT mothers to extend their breastfeeding journey by reducing the stress/anxiety around it and build confidence in both using cannabis and keeping up breastfeeding for as long as you want to.
Please, check out our Cannamom Breastfeeding Survey results in the blog post. This will give better insights as to how other moms have used cannabis as a natural tool during their postpartum, breastfeeding and motherhood journey.
More downloads on my Burning Man experiences to come...
I wrote this article while driving to Burning Man. I believe I will have more to add to this, but I will let myself mull this over for the week as I re-enter Black Rock City with my family for the first time in a few years. I will update with what my downloads are when I return.