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A new mom who was offered unsolicited weight-loss advice while shopping at Target is opening up about the “impossible expectations” of postpartum perfection.
In a Facebook post that’s gone viral with 23K likes and nearly 11K shares, Kelly Diane Howland, a mom of three in Indiana, describes how she recently visited Target with her newborn daughter. While she was there, she was approached by a woman who offered her business card for It Works, a company that sells weight loss wraps.
“But let’s not pretend that approaching me specifically was a coincidence,” Howland, a breast milk jewelry designer, wrote. “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. 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.”
Howland added, “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? 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?”
She concluded, “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.”
The average woman needs a year to lose her baby weight, and some women never lose it at all. Still, women are often bombarded with both direct and subtle messages to erase all evidence of pregnancy. In January, a mother who had recently lost 80 pounds visited a Park City Lululemon store and says she overheard a saleswoman laugh and say, “Do we even have anything in her size?”
In 2014, a Canadian mother of five, who hit the beach wearing a bikini for the first time in 13 years, was mocked by three strangers for her postpregnancy stretch marks. She wrote about the experience on Facebook in a post that went viral, saying, “I can only hope that one day you’ll realize that my battle scars are something to be proud of, not ashamed of.”
And celebrity moms are not immune to the pressure to drop pounds — in 2015, after Kelly Clarkson appeared on the British talk show Graham Norton Live, a television personality tweeted, “What happened to Kelly Clarkson? Did she eat all of her backing singers? Happily, I have wide-screen” and “Kelly Clarkson had a baby a year ago. That is no longer baby weight. That is carrot cake weight.” In response, Clarkson said to a reporter regarding the negative remarks, “I’m awesome! It doesn’t bother me. It’s a free world. Say what you will.”
Howland didn’t reply to Yahoo Beauty’s request for comment. However, she’s received an overwhelming amount of support from women all over the world. “I now have a digital pile of letters from fellow mothers who also resonate with the desperate plea to society to stop looking at the evidence of motherhood on our bodies as flaws,” she wrote on Instagram.
That’s a message Howland wants to impart to her daughter. “Women, these changes for our daughters start with you and me,” she wrote. “They’ll model what they see. Love your bodies unabashedly, and you’ll open the doors of change and give your daughters the opportunity to do the same.”
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