5 Ways You're Subtly Fat Shaming Women Who've Just Given Birth & Why It Needs To Stop

Ad failed to load

No matter what size a woman is before she becomes pregnant, her body must to change to accommodate the baby. Weight gain is a natural part of the pregnancy process, and one that is surrounded by stigmas and cultural pressures. These false beliefs and body image myths don't end once the baby is born. The pressures and commentary about what a mother's body should look like carry over into postpartum fat shaming, albeit sometimes quite subtle.

Although they exist, it is hard to find books and articles about postpartum life that do not focus on loosing the baby weight. What typically comes to the top of every news feed is how to rock a bikini just two months after giving birth to a child. Where is the literature that is encouraging you to bond with your baby, not your free weights? The article about how your body may never, ever be the same and that is just fine? Yes, those stories are out there, but they don't have enough public opinion to support their wisdom.

I'm not saying I'm unmarred here. I have done my fair share of post-baby body fat shaming, mainly to myself. It's not something I'm proud of or was even 100 percent conscious of, which goes to show how the images and messages we intake can morph into unintentional truths without our consent. If there is going to be a positive shift in how we treat the bodies of post-baby mothers, we need to consider these five subtle ways postpartum bodies are being fat shamed, and why it needs to stop.

Ad failed to load

1Praising Postpartum Celebrity Bodies

Many magazine photo shoots have been dedicated to a celebrity flashing a six-pack a few months post-birth. Although there is nothing wrong with their sculpted bodies, there is nothing right about making this a standard for new mothers. Plenty of articles praise the way celebrities "got their body back," and create a false belief that this is the only body type the everymom should aim for.

2Using The Phrase "Getting Your Body Back"

Pregnancy changes your body in many ways, and sometimes weight is one of them. Every woman is going to respond differently to the experience, and for some women that means keeping on the weight they gained during pregnancy.

Using language such as, "getting your body back," is dangerous because it implies something has been taken from you, something you need to retrieve to be you again. But really so much has been given to you from the experience. Your body has performed the incredible task of growing, producing, and giving birth to a child who would have never existed without the hard work of your body.

There is nothing to "get back,"because you're not incomplete. In fact, you are more whole than ever.

3Calling Postpartum Moms Lazy

It's hard enough to feel like your post-baby body is being judged by people you know, but if you are in the public eye, there are more people who you don't know that are making judgements. Not long after having her baby girl, television star, Tamera Mowry-Housley was labeled as "lazy" for not dropping the baby weight. The more messages like this we have permeating the media, the harder it is for postpartum bodies to have a positive reputation.

Ad failed to load

4Focusing Too Much On Pregnancy Weight Gain

This starts when a pregnant woman is warned not to gain too much weight during pregnancy. Yes, there are the legitimate health concerns associated with excessive weight gain throughout pregnancy. But there is also the marginal "reason," whether said out loud or implied that the more you gain now, the harder it will be to loose that weight once you have the baby.

5Not Validating Their Feelings

What a mother chooses to do with her body after she has her baby is her choice. Sometimes, she may really want to loose the weight she gained, which is perfectly fine. So if a postpartum woman confides in you during this sensitive time, don't try to be a fixer. Just simply validate what she is feeling.

If she is venting about the difficulties she is having loosing the weight, don't suggest that she try hot yoga or boot camp or going paleo. Just nod sincerely and say, "that sounds really frustrating."

If this subtle postpartum fat shaming is going to change, it's going to start with each of us refusing to believe there is only one acceptable body type for moms. And meaning it when we tell a new mom just how beautiful she is, exactly as she is.

Images: Pavel P./Flickr; Giphy (5)

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s Bullsh*t

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

I’m Registered At Babies “R” Us, & I'm Freaking The Hell Out

Hi. My name is Abi, and I’m registered at Babies “R” Us — and I’m freaking out. This may sound silly, but after being a die-hard Toys “R” Us kid, I was so excited to register at their baby store once my husband and I finally got our big fat positive …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

Women Who Miscarry Early Deserve To Grieve — Here's How Hospitals Should Be Helping

When I lost my baby back in 2013, it was because of a very early miscarriage. Because of the little amount of time I spent being pregnant, it was though my child had never really existed, which made the next few years hard — I felt like they had been…
By Risa Kerslake

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

7 Reasons Why March Babies Are Total Badasses

From the moment you become pregnant, you begin to wonder what your little one will be like. Will they look like you, your partner, or your Great Aunt Edna? Will they be the quiet, thoughtful type or arrive on this planet raring to go? It's fun to ima…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

12 Overnight Face Masks To Use To Wake Up Feeling Pampered AF

Spring is right around the corner, and as far as I'm concerned, the sunshine and warm breezes can't come soon enough. But now that we're about to say goodbye to winter, it's a good time to take stock of your facial skincare routine. You know, in the …
By Katie Malczyk

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How Early An Ultrasound Can Actually Determine Your Baby's Sex

From the moment you see those two lines on a pregnancy test, there are a few markers along the way that stand out as especially exciting. Amongst them are hearing your baby's heartbeat and feeling that first, sweet little kick. And if you are finding…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

9 Easy Kid Foods To Turn Green, Just In Time For St. Patrick's Day

The best part about having kids is that you get your own personal crew to celebrate the holidays with, in all your color coordinating and matching glory. And with St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, you are obviously working on turning everyth…
By Mishal Ali Zafar