Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Isabel Kallman tells her story

About a year ago or so I wrote about the New York Magazine feature on Isabel Kallman and her Alpha Mom TV station on Comcast's Video On Demand. The article trashed Isabel, described her as a crazed Upper East Side Mom who was sending her child into early therapy and certain emotional doom. It sounds funny now, perhaps, but the article was damning and hurtful.

The article ran in June. Later that summer, my phone rang. A nice voice said "Hi, this is Isabel Kallman, from Alpha Mom TV." Thus began a long conversation, and a friendship. Turns out I had been one of the few bloggers not to rush onto the Alpha-Mom-is-terrible bandwagon, that I'd written something about how the story line seemed vaguely familiar of the scary moms described by Judith Warner's Perfect Madness, and that we should be carefully critical of media like this. Turns out, too, that the real Isabel is nothing like the monstrous woman described in the article. She's a totally great, smart, down-to-earth woman who is viviacious and friendly and generous. She wanted better information when she was pregnant and a new mother, and having some resources, a Wall Street background, and a brain for business, she went about creating an on-demand TV station for moms. When you take a look at Alpha Mom TV, you realize it's astoundingly focused and caring. I've joked that Isabel and her crew videotape $400 sleep consultants in NY, and then share the session with the rest of us in America. She works closely with Soho Parenting, and other groups. And she's thinking carefully about how to use alternative media to get the word out on good solid information about parenting. I tell you, when I went through pregnancy last year, with the horrid midwives who told me not to prepare ahead of time, and then left me alone the entire time I was in active labor (and much of the time before that, too), it was Alpha Mom's several segments on positions for labor and backlabor that were the only information I had. They helped. They were what got me through a difficult situation.

Count me, in other words, an Alpha Mom fan, and a fan of its creator, Isabel.

Now, many months later, Isabel is speaking out. After the trashing in New York Magazine, Isabel was contacted by all the morning shows. She could have gone on, told her story, made a big deal of it, started another episode of Mommy Wars fuss. But she didn't. That's not her style, not one bit. So check out her story in her words over at Huffington Post.


CrankMama said...

That's a great article, thanks for the recommendation! It's scary how quickly mothers can be demonized ... reminds me of The Scarlet Letter.

Ann D said...

Thanks for this really interesting and thought-provoking post, Miriam. It's amazing how eager some people are to trash anyone who is doing something innovative or different. Even today.

PunditMom said...

Thanks for letting us know about this one. I've read a few of the "Fearless" essays, but don't get to check them out everyday.

I think many of us can probably relate at least a little bit to some of Alpha Mom's experiences -- that is, if women go after something they are passionate about and interested in, we sometimes get labelled by those who don't have a vision.

MojoMom said...

It's always disturbing to see that so often what the media wants to do is to "keep us in our place." I knew there had to be another side to Isabel's story and I really commend you for bringing it to my attention, Miriam.

karrie said...

She appears to be a smart and caring woman, but I still do not "get" AlphaMom. Admittedly, I do not watch much tv, so my only experience with her company has been online. The website rubs me the wrong way--very slick, commercial and one-sided, but to each their own.

NY Magazine tends towards a sensationalist, overly-dramtic viewpoint most of the time anyway. Easy to ignore.