On Oct. 27, news was released about the ‘plus-size’ model and new mother, Robyn Lawley, posting a topless photo on Facebook to show her postpartum body and her acceptance of the ensuing stretch marks. This photo comes after a misinterpreted and misguided interview was published last year claiming that the then seven-month-pregnant Lawley was considering an abortion to avoid stretch marks.
This post was meant to permanently invalidate that claim and promote a healthy relationship with her postpartum body that can serve as a model for other mothers struggling with body image. After giving birth to her daughter, Ripley Dorothy, in February, Lawley has focused on staying healthy instead of attempting to lose her baby weight quickly through fad diets. Similar to other body-positive advocates, she is determined to concentrate on her body’s functionality – helping her to hike, etc. – rather than just its aesthetics.
Pregnant and postpartum bodies seem to have become a public commodity, where all conventions of propriety are overlooked and it becomes appropriate to comment on the size, shape, and quality of these bodies. When pregnant, the bodies are too big, too little; the weight is too spread out, too rapid, too slow. After birth, women are not losing the weight quickly enough, there are stretch marks, and loose skin. There is more positivity about women’s postpartum bodies, too, but these are fighting against a media rampant with negativity about women and female bodies.
Lawley’s caption with her photo said it all:
We put an unbelievable amount of ridiculous time consuming pressure on women to care so much about their flaws they forget how truly beautiful they (you) are today. F–k them, who cares, be you, be loud, be proud. And put your efforts into skills that rely more on your physical self. And to anyone who feels bad about your body especially after a baby, you are a warrior, you created a life inside you, that’s no easy feat.
Body acceptance as a woman (or man) is a difficult feat, but body acceptance after childbirth is very challenging and Lawley has shown her courage in doing her best to love her postpartum body. There is thankfully more information and support for postpartum depression, but support for women struggling with body image after childbirth is lacking. This is an area that needs to be addressed and society must allow women to reclaim their pregnant and postpartum bodies from the public domain.