Ashley Graham and Jessica Alba shared some of their biggest encounters with mom-shaming as the new mother and mom-of-three, respectively, joined Red Table Talk on Tuesday. For both of the women, it was photos that they’ve posted of both breastfeeding and bottle feeding that seemed to drive the most criticism from strangers on the internet.
Graham, who gave birth to her first child Isaac eight months ago with husband Justin Ervin, talked about a photo that she posted just a few weeks after her son was born, when the family went out for brunch at one of her favorite local spots.
“I thought, oh my gosh, what am I gonna do? I have to breastfeed. Well, I’m just gonna whip out my boob and feed him. So then I thought, Justin, to my husband, take a picture! This is my first time breastfeeding him in public, this is something I always wanna remember,” she explained to hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne Banfield-Jones and Willow Smith. “I agonized over what I was gonna say and then I just finally just wrote something like two emojis, like milk and a cookie. Sure enough, I got mom-shamed.”
The model received numerous hateful comments, including those that said the photo was “gross.” Pinkett Smith, who raised her two children with Will Smith in the spotlight, shared just how beautiful she thought the moment was. “When I saw the picture, inside my heart I had to clap because I remember me myself when I would be out with Jaden and Willow breastfeeding,” she shared. “I had so much anxiety about it because back when I had them, breastfeeding was like what?! What are you doing?!”
Despite the time between the women’s experiences and the growing movement to normalize breastfeeding, Graham identified the key issue as the over-sexualization of a woman’s body — especially for herself, as a model. “My whole career is based off of being sexy and my breasts have been the forefront of many magazine covers, so then to flip to my baby is there sucking on them, I think that people just had to switch their minds,” Graham said. “But they are multi-purposeful. I think there’s so many new mommies out there who are agonizing over what they should and shouldn’t be doing.”
Alba, the mother of three children ranging in age from 2 to 12, expressed her frustration with being shamed herself — for both breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
“You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t,” the actress said in response to criticism she received after posting about publicly breastfeeding her youngest in a Target months before being shamed for a photo of herself bottle feeding the same child.
“I’ve had to do a lot of therapy, and certainly now that I’m almost 40, I’ve come to this place where I realize that most people who have something to say, it’s because they’re so insecure and it’s more of like them being ashamed of themselves, them being overly critical and for whatever reason, the natural reaction is to pull other people apart for them to feel justified or for them to feel okay,” Alba shared.
As somebody experiencing mom-shaming for the first time, however, Graham expressed that it’s been more difficult to ignore. “It never feels good to have someone tell you that you’re not doing a good enough job, that you’re doing something wrong. I can sit here and tell you that, ‘Oh, I just brush it off.’ But I don’t brush it off. I think if you allow the comments to get to you, they can,” she said. “Mommy-shamers are just mean girls who grew up to be mothers.”
Despite the criticism that all of the women admitted to facing, they continue to be pretty public about their parenting, sharing many special moments with their children.
“We whip it out when we have to,” Graham said.
Read more from Yahoo Life
Want daily lifestyle and wellness news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Life’s newsletter.