Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about or passing on kids, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.
New mum Kelly Diane Howland was shopping at a supermarket with her baby when she was approached by a fellow shopper. Though the woman began with typical small talk asking questions like how old her baby was, the conversation took a turn when the stranger brought up that she worked with a company that sells weight loss products.
"I have folded back the contact info of the woman who gave this to me because I'm not about to put another woman on blast like that," Howland wrote in a Facebook post about the shopping trip. "Listen. I'm not upset this company exists. 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."
However, she knew that it wasn't a coincidence that this woman decided to approach her out of all the other shoppers in the store.
"It's not like she ran up to every female at Target to hand out her card," Howland wrote. "But she did come to me - with my baby billboard of being brand new postpartum."
The incident, she says, was a reminder of just how much women are expected to "bounce back" after pregnancy.
"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," she continued. "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."
"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?" she wrote. "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?"
"My body doesn't need to be wrapped or squeezed or changed," she continued. "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."
Since Howland posted her message to Facebook on Wednesday, it has gone viral, with over 22,000 shares at the time of writing.
Being a new mum — or a mum at all — is difficult enough without strangers implying that you don't adhere to the standards that society has pushed on you. Howland's post is a great reminder that while there's nothing wrong with having insecurities or wanting to work on yourself, you don't need to bow to anyone else's standards.