As a society we see the female body as disgusting, that is until it’s made-up and photoshopped to be perfect and willing to satisfy the cishet male body. We see the pimples of a teenage girl as gross, the stretch marks of a sex worker as a contradiction in terms, and we see the jiggly bits of a mother as obscene.
Pregnant and postpartum bodies are particularly scrutinized in western society. We may romanticize the pregnant tummy, patting it to feel kicks and coo about how big the belly has gotten, but god forbid we actually see some skin or the after-math of labor.
I mean heck, it’s actually pretty rare for the body to return to it’s firm slim frame after childbirth, in fact according to Babycenter.com around 60 percent of women who planned to lose weight by their child’s first birthday were found to have been unscuccsessful. So what does society expect?
I don’t know one woman who hasn’t experienced the hypocrisy of a man telling them that they are beautiful when natural, only to draw back when they finally see something real. We’ve all been in that situation, and it’s not a new concept.
Luckily, nutritionist and mother of two, Linda Bhosale, has fought back against this hypocrisy, and against the stigma that the post-pregnancy body is bombarded with.
In a blog post that went viral almost instantly, Bhosale proudly wrote: “I am a mother. I am tired, broken and sore. I have lumps, bumps, marks and jiggly bits.”
In her post, Bhosale very simply and honestly highlights the obsession society has with wanting mothers to covet their pre-pregnancy bodies. This obsession convinces new parents that they are not working hard enough to submit to the patriarchy’s selfish and unrealistic ideals.
On social media, new parents are bombarded with click-bait lists that focus on ways to get the perfect post-partum body, and most of us have come across pop-up ads on how physicians “hate” the woman who came up with the perfect life-hack to lose her “love handles” without surgery. We romanticize “getting your figure back” to the point where the majority of the post-partum population are left feeling like crap about their bodies. Not only do these manipulative web pages, and general societal attitudes, lead to low-self esteem and shame for the mother, but can also lead to mental health problems and eating disorders.
In her blog, Bhosale states: “You live in a society that pushes images at you every day of women who have given birth and just “bounced back” – great for them (truly, that is great, Kate Middleton you are amazing!). But this is such a small minority. For most of us, our bodies change, and change a lot. It is scary, it is hard, it can be down right disgusting and upsetting but it is real and normal.”
Like many social justice advocates, Bohosale took to Twitter to share her opinion, as well as her tummy. By creating the hashtag #takebackpostpartum, Bhosale united millions of proud parents and struck a blow to the chest of those who body-shame. The hashtag is gradually building even more hype, but we need more– we need every parent and every surrogate to share their stories, and their beautiful bodies.
Non-binary and trans individuals have an even more confusing set of stigmas when it comes to pregnancy, as of course society believes if you can give birth then that automatically makes you female. So what I’d love to see next is a trans man showing off his bumpy bits, an agender athlete sporting their round tummy, and more LGBT+ folk showing their real postpartum bodies. Thanks to Bhosale, we now have an open lane to celebrate not only our cisters, but we can also show some positivity towards every pregnant and postpartum parent out there.
“I am a mother. I have created, grown, carried and birthed two gorgeous sons.”
This woman’s body created two living souls, it feeds them and comforts them, and if this doesn’t make it beautiful, make her beautiful, then I don’t know what does.
If you would like to strut your postpartum stuff, or just support the tag, then check out #takebackpostpartum!