There is an unrealistic expectation that women will just snap back into shape after giving birth, says one of the new mums from Mothercare’s Body Proud Mums campaign.
New mum Tina Pack admits she was nervous when asked to be one of the 10 women fronting Mothercare’s Body Proud Mums campaign, designed to represent “a part of motherhood rarely portrayed in the media.”
I’m not anti-fitness. But you don’t have to post images everywhere and it’s not a competition.
Tina was fully behind Mothercare’s aim to “show the beauty of the post-birth body” but, even so, it meant posing for a picture in her underwear with her twin son and daughter, Alexander and Kaiya, just 27 weeks after giving birth.
“At one point, I bailed,” she laughs. “I said: ‘On second thoughts, I’m not going to do this.’ My husband was the one who convinced me I should.”
She’s now glad she did and thinks the pictures — taken by photographer Sophie Mayanne who refuses to digitally manipulate skin in her work — are beautiful. “I don’t feel so embarrassed about my body at the moment,” says Tina, who reveals that the campaign has given her more confidence. “My tummy still has a teardrop shape, but the more I think about the campaign, the happier I am. Because, actually, even though my body doesn’t look the way I want it to, it’s fit and healthy — and it had two babies who came out fine.”
Adverts needs to show more imperfect bodies
In our social media-driven world, there’s an unrealistic expectation that mothers’ bodies should quickly return to ‘normal’ after giving birth. “People talk about the Kardashians in that regard,” agrees Tina. “And there’s the snap back phenomenon where people post pictures of themselves at the gym after having kids. I’m not anti-fitness. I believe ‘fit body, fit mind’. I went to the gym and did yoga. But you don’t have to post images everywhere and it’s not a competition. When you see (SnapBack) photos, you should also see the other side. It’s a balance.”
Some people might think the women in the campaign are ‘brave’ for putting themselves in the public eye in such an uncompromising way. “It is ‘brave’ in a way, because the shape our bodies are in at the moment is not the shape our bodies were in pre-pregnancy,” says Tina. “But we were doing it for other mums, because when you look at women in adverts, you don’t see stretch marks anywhere — but lots of us have them.”
“I also wanted younger people to see real women with real scars and real stretch marks. That is life, those are our bodies. It’s not all perfect. If people see that more often, it might become more normal for everyone.”