Let me just start by saying women are truly incredible creatures. I am so grateful and proud to be surrounded by so many of them. My mom, my sisters, my sisters-in-law, friends, colleagues, boss, and even mother-in-law (yes really) inspire me everyday. Why? They’re all selfless, hard working, passionate, intelligent, entrepreneurial and powerful females. And these attributes are amplified when we have children. Somehow we summon the phenomenal strength from within to bear a child, then we love, protect, and nurture this beautiful baby for the rest of its life. It’s a massive job, but we all go through it and come out the other side, still smiling. Yet despite how far we’ve come, somehow we can’t get past our issues with body image. I’m not normally one to comment on these things because of the controversy it sparks, but I couldn’t hold back any longer. This mom body bashing has to stop.
Recently hundreds of women, many of them fellow moms, took to Bugaboo’s Facebook page to post negative comments about Dutch model Ymre Stiekema from Vogue Netherlands, and it has put me into despair. The popular pram company posted an image of the model pushing her two-year-old daughter, running in a bikini and many women deemed it “unrealistic”. While I agree that most moms don’t run in a bikini, it seems unfair to criticize any mother’s body post baby. Models are genetic freaks of nature; They have unbelievable metabolisms, ridiculously long limbs, impeccable bone structure, and beautiful bodies, which is why they’re models. It’s their job to look this good. On their Facebook page one user commented, "Bugaboo, we need to talk. And by we, I mean me and whoever decided this is a good way to reach your target demographic of normal, average, everyday moms who might have some soft spots on their bodies left over from housing a fetus for 10 months.”
First of all, what is “normal” or “average” anyway? I’d be the first to agree that this woman is not indicative of my post-baby body, but I know plenty of “normal” women who bounced back into their bodies after having a baby. This is called genetics, or they were just already pretty fit before they had a baby and their bodies bounced back quicker than most. But the comments continued, and it evolved beyond her body into what she was wearing when running. Thankfully another user wrote, “Really ladies? Are you that judgmental or jealous that you have to question what she is running in? Women should support each other not tear each other down because you feel inadequate. I would never get away with wearing that while I run, but great for her!”
And I have to agree. Instead of judging, criticizing, and shaming moms and brands for promoting “unattainable expectations”—and why the ad failed—isn’t it time we come up with some answers instead. What is the alternative? If women are so outraged at seeing an “unrealistic” bodies in ads, then should we replace models with more “real” women? What do “real” women look like anyway? Isn't it unrealistic of a brand to choose just one woman to represent a group that spans so many differing looks, shapes, belief systems and ideals? How are we ever going to please everyone? When we posted this story about what normal people look like in fashion campaigns, some people cheered, but many didn't like the use of the word "normal" when referring to non-models. But this is beyond the point. Women should just accept each other for all their physical, emotional, and physiological differences. Let's create a sisterhood where moms encourage and accept one another, no matter what they look like.
Shop some of our favorite items below.
Do you dislike the term "real" or "normal" to describe non-models? How would you like to be represented in your favorite brand’s ads? Let us know in the comments.
Opening photo: Bugaboo
Urban Outfitters 14,000 Things to be Happy About ($10)