Imagine - after struggling to gain confidence in your body - that you participate in an art project that celebrates your postpartum body. But then Instagram bans one of the photos. What happens next? And what does that mean for women who struggle to celebrate their changed bodies?
That's exactly what happened to mother of two Desiree Barnes-Doan, who participated in a photo shoot with The Body Joy Project last year.
One popular photo, posted below, really zoomed in on her postpartum body - and it was repeatedly taken down after The 4th Trimester Bodies Project posted it, according to The Huffington Post. (It is currently back up and on several other accounts.)
Barnes-Doan posted the photo, too, after she learned that Instagram was trying to take it down, and she included a powerful message - pointing to how she believes if she had posted the photo before having a baby, Instagram wouldn't have been trying to axe it:
This is my postpartum body! Before my son I was 98 pounds. I spent my days kick boxing, running and taking yoga classes. I worked out about four hours a day. After my son I still ate clean and hiked a bit but my focus changed to Fox and creating fox and the traveling gypsy. It wasn't always easy for me (the change) but participating in Body Joy Project . . . was extremely healing. This picture has been popping up lately and for some reason it keeps getting censored by Instagram. It's sad that something that is so healing to a woman is not acceptable. I'm sure if I posted pictures of my body before Fox there would be no removals. As many of you know I am days, possibly weeks, away from my second child joining our family Earth side. I am so excited. I can't wait for society to catch up and worship women and their bodies the way they deserve with love, and appreciation.
In an unfortunate twist, the photo is not currently accessible from Barnes-Doan's account.
Censoring the photo went against what Charlotte Dean - who co-founded the group and painted Barnes-Doan for the photo shoot - believes The Body Joy Project is about.
"The Body Joy Project was founded specifically to celebrate women who didn't look the way that the media," Dean says. "We were so sick of the limited portrayal of bodies (mostly women's bodies) in the media. We all grew up feeling that there was one type of beautiful, one type of 'right' body and we know that isn't true. The work we create challenges that notion - we are reclaiming our bodies and through our art, we put our own images out into the world. Our own ideas of beauty. I have had the chance to body paint so many different people - different ages, races, body types. I get to show the person I am painting 'this is how I see you,' and then share that with the world. Each experience is so different and beautiful.
"I think this is why having Instagram censor that postpartum photo of Desiree stung so much," she adds. "She and I very carefully chose the photos from her session that we wanted to share with the world. She struggled with that photo. It's raw, it's honest - but she overcame her own doubts and called me up. She said 'let's share it! This is my body now and I'm proud of it.' So we shared it along with Desiree's story and we were both blown away by the response. So many women were moved and started sharing their own stories about their postpartum bodies. To have Instagram remove it despite the fact that so many women were relating to it was really upsetting. As if it were something to be ashamed of instead of celebrated."
And Barnes knows that the photo sends an important message.
"I may not always like the way my body looks right now, but I respect it and love it for everything that it is and does for my family and myself," Barnes said to The Huffington Post. "This is what I want other mamas to take from this picture, that we are in it together, we have to support and uplift one another. I'm pretty sure we all feel this way sometimes."
(h/t Huffington Post)
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