Fancy Photography/ Veer
Loralee Choate used to describe herself as "a stay-at-home mother who often hangs around in her spit-up-covered pajamas and blogs about things that are rather pointless and silly." But one year ago, the normally sardonic and self-effacing mother from Utah wrote on her blog -- Loralee's Looney Tunes (loraleeslooneytunes.com) -- about something extremely serious: being denied insurance coverage because of a high-risk pregnancy. "I have been sobbing all day," she wrote. "We're barely making it as it is."
Soon, Choate was telling her story in person to Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to President Obama. Someone had forwarded Choate's post to Jarrett, who then invited her to a small luncheon at the 2009 BlogHer conference, which annually brings together more than one thousand female bloggers. After the event, Jarrett blogged about meeting Choate and invited Choate and her husband to visit the White House to talk about health-care reform. Since then, Choate has been to the West Wing, discussed policy with Obama's senior advisors, hung out petting the First Dog, and been inspired to be civically engaged.
Choate's blog is the perfect illustration of the slogan "the personal is political"; the power of the Internet makes one individual's impact exponential, dare we say presidential. Indeed, the number of blogs like Choate's, and of mothers using online social media to share and opine, educate and organize, has exploded. More to the point, mothers online have become powerful: raising and honing their voices, writing best-sellers, moving products, stepping up as spokesmoms, and transforming culture. Call it Because I Said So 2.0: The trusted authority of Mom, plus the platform of the Internet, times 35 million (according to eMarketer's 2010 projections of mothers online) equals a collective voice that's not only self-affirming but that politicians and others in power are also listening to. "Being courted online is extremely empowering. Mothers are realizing that they have a voice, and it has impact when they raise it," says Elisa Camahort Page, cofounder and COO of BlogHer. "There's tremendous opportunity. It can be personal, professional, or political, but it's definitely powerful."