One mom’s Facebook post about how society views postpartum bodies went viral last week.
On April 12, Kelly Howland wrote about a trip she took to a Target store in Mishawaka, Indiana, with her 2-week-old. She told The Huffington Post that while she was looking through the value bins at the front of the store, a woman approached her and asked a few questions about her newborn.
The woman turned out to be a salesperson for a skin care and nutrition brand and gave Howland her contact info in case she was interested in the company’s products, which include body-contouring wraps for tightening and toning.
In her post, Howland wrote that she knew why the woman chose to advertise to her as she carried her “baby billboard of being brand new postpartum.”
“We all know that this culture hammers into postpartum women a lot of physical insecurity about their bodies after delivering their miracles from their wombs,” she wrote. “I don’t think I have to spell out for a single woman the cultural pressure that postpartum mothers face regarding their physical appearance. We know. We all know. She knew. And that’s why she approached me.”
The mom also made it clear she wasn’t upset with the woman or even with the company. She did use the moment, though, to suggest an alternate way to view postpartum bodies.
“Can we PLEASE not perpetuate the pressure, the impossible expectations, and therefore keep alive the insecurities that we newly postpartum women face regarding our new and changing bodies as we enter motherhood?” she wrote. “Instead of leaning into superficial ideals imposed upon us, can we PLEASE start bucking the system and instead start praising each other for being the amazing, life giving, creation birthing vessels that we are?”
When asked if there have been other times where she felt pressured to change her body after becoming a mother, Howland told The Huffington Post she used to struggle with body image, but now, after giving birth to three babies, she feels no need to alter her looks.
“I love my body for what she does for me on a daily basis,” she said. "I love myself and my body for who I am. I wear the physical evidence of my life experiences on my body, particularly my motherhood, and I by no means think that is something to try to hide or erase.”
Howland told HuffPost she has received “overwhelmingly positive” feedback on her post, which has been shared more than 15,000 times as of Monday afternoon. She said it seems to have resonated with other women and mothers who have had similar experiences.
For Howland, her body is “physical evidence” of the lives she brought into the world. And she aims to celebrate that, not hide it.
“My body doesn’t need to be wrapped or squeezed or changed,” she wrote in her post. “It needs to be valued and revered for the incredible life it just brought into this world. THAT is beauty and THAT is all it needs.”
The HuffPost Parents newsletter, So You Want To Raise A Feminist, offers the latest stories and news in progressive parenting.