Unfortunately, our society can place unwarranted pressure on women to look a certain way— especially after having a baby. From unwanted weight gain and stretch marks, to hormone changes and breast-feeding, having a baby can change a woman’s body in many ways. However, women shouldn’t feel ashamed after giving birth because by doing so they are welcoming new human life into the world.
This is why January Harshe started a parenting blog, Birth Without Fear and an Instagram account called Take Back Postpartum. On her blog, she partners with other women to “’take back postpartum” by proudly sharing honest photos of stretch marks and cesarean section scars on social media. According to the DailyMail, she started doing this because she wants to end what she calls “fat shaming” and create acceptance for the physical changes brought on by motherhood.
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Harshe said that prior to giving birth to her sixth child, she was bombarded with spam and advertisements shaming her into losing her baby weight. She said, “It became apparent very quickly to me that this was something we’d need to continue discussing and change as a community of women.”
Now her social media account has accrued over 14,000 followers and features photos of women modeling their stomachs, stretch marks and cesarean section scars. Additionally, there are images of new mother’s breastfeeding and showing off their growing baby bumps. Harshe explained, “By showing variations of normal in not only pregnancy and birth, but postpartum and motherhood, we can be more accepting of ourselves and each other. Life and motherhood are hard even when blessed. We need support not shaming.”
Ultimately, the goal of Take Back Postpartum is to create a community of mothers. Harshe said, “Every time a woman shares her thoughts, insecurities, etc., she becomes stronger and helps other women find their voice as well.”
She captioned one image of her stomach, “My bell is soft and squishy. Stretch marks leave textures and color all over. This was her home. This is where she grew till she was ready to join us Earthside. Some people might think that a body has been ruined, but I think my body has now been decorated with a symbol of motherhood. I’m a proud mama with her tiger stripes.”
Harshe’s post was received well with commenters saying, “Beautiful! …You are beautiful and amazing,” and “Thank you for sharing what most woman are afraid of!” She concluded, “I realized as I shared my journey of self acceptance, that all women struggle. ‘Fat’ is no longer a shameful word to me. I am simply me. A woman, a mother, beautiful. It’s how we should all see ourselves.”