One mom made headlines last week after sharing her experience being body shamed while shopping with her newborn son.
Kelly Howland said she was fielding the usual questions about her newborn when the stranger asking about her baby suddenly changed the subject to Howland's postpartum belly.
"I am shopping in Target with my obviously fresh baby," Howland wrote in a viral Facebook post. "I'm a brand new postpartum mom. A woman approaches me and chats me up the usual small talk about 'how old is she?' and 'how much does she weigh?' And then she asks The Question. 'Have you heard of It Works before?' I tell her that I know what it is but I've never utilized it. She proceeds with artificial shock and surprise and gives me her card and her spiel."
It Works is a skin and nutrition company that sells products they promise "will change your life" — but Howland made it known that she was already happy with her life and wasn't interested in changing it.
"I'm not upset this company exists," she wrote. "And I'm not even upset at this woman because she could be absolutely charming and just trying to hustle her own living and I have respect for a woman with guts to do that. But let's not pretend that approaching me specifically was a coincidence."
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"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."
Ummm. Could Howland be the voice of a movement here? The goosebumps on our arms say "yes" — and she's right! Instead of focusing on postpartum bodies, why aren't we praising other women for giving birth to another actual human? Of course our bodies are going to be a little different after pregnancy. It even seems a bit illogical to think that they wouldn't undergo a change.
But Howland isn't the first mom to be body shamed. In fact, the recent onslaught of mommy shaming raises the question of why it's even acceptable to do this in the first place. Remember Heather Albert, the 35-year-old mom who says Lululemon employees made fun of her weight?
Albert recalled overhearing employees making comments about her body while shopping in a Park City, UT store (by the way, this was all after she was feeling good about losing 80 pounds brought on by postpartum depression and polycystic ovary syndrome).
She recalled them saying, “Do we even have anything in her size?” and giggling.
In Albert's heartbreaking response, she wrote she felt humiliated and unwelcome in the store because of her size.
Also feeling unwelcome because of her size was Kansas City mom Lexi Sinclair, who was body shamed by a stranger (another woman) at her pool.
And get this: The woman told 4-month-postpartum Sinclair that she would make the men at the pool feel more comfortable if she wore a one-piece rather than a bikini — especially a mother who is "still recovering." She actually said that.
While Sinclair's brilliant response was a polite "screw you" to the stranger, she said she was still hurt for body-shamed women who don't have the confidence to stand up for themselves.
“I want other moms to know it’s OK to wear what you want to wear," Sinclair said. "Scars and stretch marks are just proof you’ve loved someone more than you love yourself.”
While stretch marks and scars are often the subject of hurtful body-shaming instances, former X-Factor contestant (and mom of two) Stacey Solomon was body shamed by The Sun newspaper for her "sinking" breasts in a paparazzi-style bikini photo.
Solomon brilliantly clapped back at the newspaper in an Instagram post telling The Sun that boobs that have gone through pregnancy and breast feeding are still sexy, thankyouverymuch.
In addition to shaming moms whose bellies aren't supermodel flat and whose breasts aren't as perky as they once were, apparently our society will also criticize moms who might be hitting the gym "too soon" after giving birth.
Take Hilaria Baldwin, for example. The longtime yoga and fitness authority, who shares three children with husband Alec Baldwin, received online criticism in September when she took to social media to post a video of her workout routine less than two weeks after giving birth.
Some fans weren't thrilled about the video, commenting that Baldwin should "take a few months' break" to spend time with her little one. Shortly after, Baldwin shared a lengthy note via Instagram to hit back at the haters, explaining that (aside from her pregnancy being none of her followers' business) guess what, fitness is her job — and she of all people would know when it's appropriate for her to get back into the swing of things.
The point that these different mommy-shaming situations make is that one way or another, new moms are constantly judged and criticized. When will our society start celebrating new moms instead of pressuring them to conform to a certain body type or lifestyle?
Target-shopping Kelly Howland hit the issue right on the money when she begged for moms to praise each other instead of cut each other down.
"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?" Howland wrote. "Can we just offer each other adoration of the amazing things that we've accomplished and see our physical changes as marks of phenomenal accomplishment that only our sex has the privilege of experiencing?"
Perhaps one day we'll see a society that celebrates mothers more than it focuses on their postpartum bodies. Until then, we'll be here, waiting.
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