About five months ago, Allison Slater Tate ’96 submitted an essay called “The Mom Stays in the Picture” to The Huffington Post’s Parents section. Like other stories she’d written, it combined personal experience with a bit of friendly advice. The takeaway, based on Tate’s recent trip to a photo booth with her 5-year-old son, was that moms “need to make an effort to get in the picture,” instead of just taking the pictures, even on the days when they’re not looking or feeling their best:
“Our sons need to see how young and beautiful and human their mamas were,” she wrote. “Our daughters need to see us vulnerable and open and just being ourselves — women, mamas, people living lives. Avoiding the camera because we don’t like to see our own pictures? How can that be okay?”
The post resonated with moms, becoming the most popular item on The Huffington Post. Millions read it in its first week alone; hundreds of thousands shared it on Facebook. It landed Tate on Katie Couric’s syndicated talk show, and it inspired action, too. Mothers from around the world sent her photos and stories. Friends made pledges to one another, promising to make sure that they would stay “in the picture.” Lisa Belkin ’82, a senior columnist at The Huffington Post and one of Tate’s mentors, described her own response to the essay: “I read it. I cried. Then I opened the closet where I cram thousands of my own family photos and started to search.”
“It’s changed my life,” Tate says, “because people are telling me it’s changed their lives — and that’s crazy to me.”
With an expanded audience, Tate has started to write more regularly, both for her website, allisonslatertate.com, and for The Huffington Post. A mother of four children — ages 10, 8, 5, and 10-months — she says that she now tries to make her posts more universal, with less complaining about the day-to-day frustrations, but remains open and honest about how she approaches the challenges of parenting.
Tate majored in English at Princeton, led tours for Orange Key, and wrote for The Daily Princetonian sports section. After graduation, she pursued a career in television and film, first at The Late Show with David Letterman in New York and later in development roles in Hollywood. While she often worked with writers, she didn’t begin writing until about five years ago, when she started an anonymous parenting blog from her home in central Florida.
With support and encouragement from Belkin and others on the Alumni Association’s online parenting discussion group, Tate eventually began to put a byline on her work and submit pieces to well-read blogs like The New York Times‘ Motherlode — a choice that ultimately paved the way for “The Mom Stays in the Picture.”
Tate says that at home her sudden fame didn’t change much — her kids “actually don’t know who Katie Couric is.” But the experience, she says, taught them a worthwhile lesson: “Writing can be powerful.”
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