Author and curvy model Katie Willcox has built her platform around body positivity — and garnered a devoted following while doing so. Aside from the snaps of her adorable daughter, True, Willcox shares motivational messages and content centered on the social media movement she built: Healthy Is the New Skinny.
Willcox, who also founded Natural Model Management, recently shared an important message to help mothers who might be struggling with their postpartum bodies.
Alongside a photo holding True and wearing a shirt that reads “healthy is the new skinny,” Willcox wrote, “When I am having a ‘body image moment’ and start to feel self deprecating thoughts about my postpartum body I’m able to look at this little face and remember something important.”
“I am reminded that my love for her trumps any self loathing I feel about myself,” she wrote of her daughter’s influence. “Those negative moments are exactly that, just momentary, and when we fight them with love and logic we are able to come out on top!”
“My daughter has been a huge help in my ability to rationalize negative thoughts about my postpartum body,” she says. “So much of the female self-loathing surrounding our bodies has been a learned behavior. We have been raised with the belief that our bodies dictate our value in society, and as much as we consciously challenge it, it’s still a very powerful subconscious belief we carry with us that ‘smaller is better.’ I don’t want my daughter to be raised with those beliefs about herself because they are limiting, minimizing, and false.”
She wants to teach her daughter differently — and eradicate that kind of thinking. “I want to break that cycle, and in doing so I have realized it starts with me, not with her. When I’m struggling to appreciate my postpartum body because it looks different than before I had a baby, I am quickly reminded just how powerful my body is when I see her little face. As women, we are the only way human life comes to the earth! So who cares about 10 or 15 extra pounds?”
In her post, Willcox urges new mothers to embrace the skin they’re in. “To all the mothers out there who are struggling to love your postpartum body, take a moment to thank it for the amazing journey it has been through,” she wrote.
“Look at your beautiful children and remind yourself that your body issues are learned — not natural. We can break this toxic cycle and teach our children where their value really comes from. You are strong like a mother! You are doing a great job.”
Along with changing the way her daughter learns about beauty and body image, she believes women need to look at the post-baby body differently.
“We are exposed to countless messaging each day that tells us our beauty dictates our place in society. The younger we are, the sexier we are, and the thinner we are all equate to our value as women,” she says. “People love a good pregnancy belly bump — just not a postpartum one. This type of value system is so unhealthy because it is not based on individual human beings and their abilities, talents, accomplishments, and personal traits. It is based on identifying women as physical bodies that need to be pleasing to others.”
“That is where our toxic cycle began as young girls and has been going strong ever since,” she continues. “In order to break that negative life cycle you have to begin a journey to discover who you are beyond a physical body and what other people think of it.”
Willcox’s love for her daughter not only alters her own take on body image but also shows her how important it is to teach self-love and acceptance to True as she grows.
“When I look at my daughter, I see an opportunity to raise her to be fearless of her greatness. That love trumps any self-deprecating moments I have about my postpartum body and inspires me to be my healthiest, happiest self,” she says.
On the response to the initial post, Willcox is grateful for the support and feels that the honesty in her post is what draws people in. “I think when people speak honestly about how they’re feeling, it gives permission for other people to open up and realize they’re not crazy or alone,” she says.
“Social media is full of people competing for numbers and perfect photos and beautiful color schemes, but I find that what women are responding to most is authenticity. Authenticity is the new sexy bikini picture! It’s not our bikini pictures that create change and inspire women. It is connecting to each other as human beings and talking about our struggles as well as celebrating our little victories each day.”
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