Becoming a mom is equal parts beautiful, life changing, and challenging, all wrapped up in one tiny adorable package. And the last thing a new mom needs to worry about is trying to live up to the impossible body expectations portrayed by celebrities on social media and in movies or through a commercial on TV selling some weight loss product. They’re all over the place and, most of the time, these pressures become subconsciously embedded in our own minds. But sometimes they rear their ugly heads right in front of your face, as one mom, who called out this type of postpartum body-shaming, learned the hard way.
It happened when Kelly Howland was shopping at Target with her little newborn wrapped snuggly against her chest. As she wrote on Facebook, a kind stranger approached her and they made the usual small talk you might have when you see an adorable baby. Then, the other person quickly turned from friendly stranger making pleasantries into a saleswoman pitching a weight-loss program.
"I am shopping in Target with my obviously fresh baby. I'm a brand new postpartum mom," Howland wrote on Facebook, explaining how the woman first approached her. "And then she asks The Question. ‘Have you heard of It Works before?’ I tell her that I know what it is but I've never utilized it. She proceeds with artificial shock and surprise and gives me her card and her spiel."
It Works is a beauty and wellness company that has had a popular presence on social media for its body wraps that are said to be a “contouring product that can tighten, tone, and firm any area of the body” in a little as 45 minutes. (The company specifically notes on its website that it is not recommended for nursing women, so targeting a new mom seems a little misplaced.) It goes pretty much without saying, but this sales pitch totally crossed a line.
"Let's not pretend that approaching me specifically was a coincidence. Because it's not like she ran up to every female at Target to hand out her card. But she did come to me - with my baby billboard of being brand new postpartum," Rowland wrote, adding that she wasn't upset with the woman or the company. She continued:
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. 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.
Instead of buying into these unrealistic expectations, Rowland chose to fight against these societal pressures, especially the ones new mothers face after their bodies did some crazy things to them.
"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?" Rowland wrote. "My body doesn't need to be wrapped or squeezed or changed. 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."
(On that note, everyone please join me in a collective "Amen!")
Listen, sales is tough and the hustle is real, but it's never OK to shame a new mom, or anyone for that matter, by targeting their bodies. Howland's post perfectly tackled this problem women face every day — trying to live up to ridiculous body standards. That is the last type of pressure a new mom needs and Howland hit the nail on the head.