The actress and mom of two talks her Instagram account and what she tells her daughters about social media.
If you follow actress Busy Philipps on Instagram, you’re not getting a highly edited, preciously curated series of photos. Instead, you’re getting a real glimpse into her life. There are the fun and glamorous parts of her life, like filming for work and heading to awards shows with her best friend Michelle Williams. But Philipps also shares her everyday struggles, too, like a recent trip to the hospital in early September, or lying on her kitchen floor after a rough day.
We love how Philipps keeps it so honest and relatable—we all have bad days, Hollywood actresses included—so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to chat with Philipps, who partnered with LG SideKick on a hilarious video series about being the “perfect” mom and debunking stereotypes, about her Instagram, what she wants her daughters to know about social media, and what’s she’s reading right now. Read her interview below—which she was doing while brushing her daughter’s hair for a play date (what a multitasker!)—and watch the video here.
Real Simple: You keep it so real on Instagram. How do you like to express yourself on the platform and is there something you would never post?
Busy Philipps: I try to be really careful with the kids’ stuff. I really do expose my kids a lot on social media, but I do try to be considerate of things that would, for instance, embarrass them at school.
I just really want to be respectful of the fact that they’re their own people, they have their own lives, and they didn’t choose to be my kids. So I want to make it easy for them. But at the same time I try to show the real side, the real struggles of being a mom. I certainly shared my struggles with sleeping. That’s something that Birdie and I talk freely about with other people, so I don’t think that’s a shameful thing. I think one of my major things, or what I feel like social media is so great for, is taking the shame away from all of this stuff.
RS: Yes, social media seems to break up stigmas about certain things—it’s like knowing that everyone goes through problems.
BP: I feel like I have been really lucky on Instagram in that I rarely get people being negative or coming at me with hatred. Even one time I had a really intense thing happen where I posted something about one of my kids. I can’t remember what it was—it was just a picture of myself, and I had like a sad expression, and I was talking about Cricket not eating. This woman started calling me names and I didn’t respond to it, but what happened that is so incredible to me is that somebody else responded to her and said something to the effect of you’re obviously going through a really tough time right now, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through, and just know that there are people out there that are sending you good thoughts. The woman responded to her and said something like, “I’ve been trying to have a baby for five years, it’s not happening. I know that wasn’t right what I did, but I just got so angry when I saw her complaining about her kid. I can’t have a kid.” It kind of broke my heart and also just made me feel like how incredible... how on this page of mine this woman got to voice what she was going through and the other person responded back to her and said, “I’m so sorry you’re going through this, keep your chin up, remember that there’s always a positive way to turn any situation.”
At its best I feel like that’s what social media can do for people. Make us all remember that when you can feel so isolated and so alone sitting at your house behind your computer, there are people out there that want to share with you and want to help you through whatever you’re going through. I don’t mean to sound so Pollyanna about it, but it is really special.
RS: What would you want your daughters to know about social media as they grow up?
BP: Birdie and I have an open line of communication about social media. She’s very big into YouTube, which is so funny and so generational. It’s all the rules for life: we talk about kindness, we talk about the right ways to talk to people, even if you’re not sitting across from someone. You can’t put anything online that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face. It takes a moment of introspection before you press send.
The other thing that we say is once you see something you can never unsee it. I just want her to be aware that some images are not meant for you to view, you don’t need them in your head, because that will be stuck in your head for the rest of your life. We talk about that and making good choices in terms of that. I don’t know what the next thing in social media is going to be, and I can’t prepare properly for that. We’re going to have to deal with it when it comes.
RS: Switching topics—what have you and your daughters been reading lately?
Birdie reads herself now, which is so wild. She’s reading Jake and Lily. I was reading David Sedaris’s Diaries [Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002] and then I got Michael Ausiello’s book, Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies. Those are the two things that I’m going through right now. I’m writing my own book, so it’s really difficult for me to get into a lot of other things. I read Elena Ferrante’s novels last year. Everybody needs to read those, by the way, if they haven’t. My Brilliant Friend is one of my favorite books of all time.