There’s Nothing ‘Brave’ About A Mom Wearing A Bikini
When I look at Hollis’ photo, I see a completely normal looking woman with an enviable figure. When I read her words, I see the same tired tropes about stretchmarks being some sort of badge of honor — because it’s unacceptable to just let them be stretchmarks and leave it at that — and how we should be proud in spite of our saggy belly buttons, as if overcoming a saggy belly button is somehow a revolutionary act.
It doesn’t inspire me. Instead, it makes me angry that society holds our bodies up to such impossible standards that normal, attractive women feel like it’s bold and inspiring to simply not hate yourself. It makes me angry that we continue to allow it.Â With every ‘Like’ and every share, people are agreeing that yes, this is revolutionary. Yes, itÂ is brave to not allow bearing children to make you ashamed of your perfectly normal body.
If Hollis’ photo inspires someone to stop hating on her body, that’s fantastic. But it doesn’t change the fact that the reasons we’re given to hate ourselves in the first place are utterly absurd. Stretchmarks shouldn’t need to be repainted as ‘tiger stripes’ in order to make them acceptable. We shouldn’t need to preface our bikini photos with the fact that we’re wearing one in spite of how we look.
It’s understandable that women would be fearful of existing in their own skin — particularly post-pregnancy — given the messages we’re bombarded with on a daily basis, but participating in viral campaigns like this one isn’t helping. If anything, it’s keeping us locked in the narrative that postpartum bodies should be a source of shame and it’s rare and courageous to feel otherwise.
Hollis’ photo isn’t the problem, but it is a symptom of the problem, which is the persistent and pervasive myth that motherhood makes heinous monsters of ordinary women and that minor imperfections are so horrid it’s practically an act of disobedience to leave the house every day in your ghastly mom bod. If seeing a photo like the one Hollis posted inspires you or can help ‘normalize’ postpartum bodies, then by all means, share away. But in doing so, please don’t forget that there was nothing abnormal about existing in a postpartum body in the first place.