Changing the post baby body reality.
Perhaps, one of the most expressed emotions by women, in particular mothers. As I trawl through social media comments or submissions to our sister site, Mamamia, shame is a topic that women easily identify with.
Shame about how much time – or, not enough – they spend with their children.
Shame that they leave work at 2:30pm to pick the kids up from school (despite working until 11:00pm after the kids go to bed).
Shame about their bodies. Shame about their bodies after children.
Recently, I was so wonderfully confronted to hear a woman reject that shame. Her name is Tiffiny Hall and if you don’t know her by that, then you probably know her face (and body):
The long blonde hair. The rock-hard abs. The motivational quotes on The Biggest Loser.
In case you haven’t been following her personal life, the 33-year-old gave birth to a son, Arnold, one month ago.
Then, the internet went a little bit bonkers when she posted this glorious shot of her body, with little Arnie cheering in the background:
Image via Instagram.
Mamamia wrote a post that went viral celebrating Hall’s image – depicting her weeks after pregnancy but revelling in love for her child and love for herself.
Then, Mia Freedman interviewed the fitness trainer and business owner for the podcast, No Filter. Amongst many wonderful things Hall said on the episode, she gifted women with this quote:
“The important word in baby weight is baby – it’s not that I put on weight – it’s that I had a baby, it’s a huge experience, labor is such an athletic event, there’s a lot of recovery – and that’s why I’ve posted pictures of my body postpartum to show women that we don’t have to bounce back…why do we need to have pressure to do that?”
It’s important to note that Hall is not the first woman to show the reality of life, and bodies, after babies. Earlier this year, a mother from Western Australia posted a photo of her body just hours after pregnancy, which was covered worldwide:
As she wrote, “With my first I was adamant I would just “bounce back”. Everyone would say “you’re young, you’ll loose [sic] the baby weight in no time!” But you know what, I didn’t, I never have in fact.
“I used to feel the need to cover up in this newborn stage, I didn’t want to see my body in this state, so why would anyone else?
“I am NOT ashamed of my (many) new stripes and my postpartum body. And neither should you! Let’s celebrate postpartum bodies, in all their glory. The female body is incredible and I am so proud of what mine has done!”
These type of images, which while rare are growing, are in stark contrast to the previous “bounce back” headlines that proliferated tabloids. Not just a decade ago, but today. This year.
Beyonce was heralded for her incredible ‘transformation’:
Model, Erin McNaught, found herself in the outrage machine showing this before and after image, two weeks postpartum:
This article is not written to serve as a condemnation of McNaught, or women like her who seemingly “bounce back” in remarkable fashion. As she wrote with the picture, “This is not a ‘progress’ pic; I’m not saying what I’m doing is any better or any worse than anyone else’s post-baby journey. It’s my body, it is what it is! It’s made two incredible little humans…”
Instead, it serves as a reminder that the tide against near-impossible post-baby body is turning. It’s not censoring cases like McNaught or Beyonce, rather making room for the Halls in this conversation.
Women are thirsty for stories and images that are real to them; they identify themselves with and feel seen.
The virality and overwhelmingly positive response to Hall’s pregnancy portrayal is just one measurement of this. It’s why ‘influencers’, like Constance Hall, Sophie Cachia, and Mel Watts attract such a cult following from women – they’re authentic and relatable. And this is the lesson that brands can take from these content creators.
Mothers are beginning to pushing against their own standards of being the ‘superhero woman’.
They embrace their messy truths, like a stamp of glory to being a #realwoman.
As women take control of their identities, smart advertisers are starting to respond. Skincare company, Glossier, made headlines in September with their new “body hero” campaign, featuring women of different colours, shapes, and, you’ll never guess – a pregnant body!
Bepanthen, providing skin ointments for babies, similarly recognised that supporting women through pregnancy doesn’t end with birth. Launching 10 Month, the site places attention on caring for the mother – not child – in the first month of motherhood. It doesn’t hide the messy bits of motherhood, from cracked nipples to stretch mark remedies.
Shame is, even if slowly, no longer the primary currency women trade in.