Sometimes a selfie is less about perfect lighting and filters than it is the simple action of accepting our bodies — and spreading that message to others. It's a seemingly easy act, but one that grows increasingly more difficult living in a society plagued by stigmas, pervasive stereotypes and unrealistic beauty standards.
It's this idea that is being reinforced thanks to Australian mom blogger Mel Watts, who uploaded a selfie Friday depicting two images: one of her at 30 weeks pregnant with newborn son Sonny George (her fourth child), and the other four days after delivering Sonny via Caesarean section.
"Honestly, it's no castle or bloody piece of art," Watts, who runs The Modern Mumma, wrote, noting the appearance of stretch marks and dimples. "But this body ... gave me another life. Another small human to love and to hold. So many times I've doubted my body, so many times I've pinched and pulled at sections that I didn't like. In reality, this body has done everything I'd ever want it to do."
Though she went on to refer to her body as "not magazine- or swimsuit-worthy to some," she recognized it as the place that "everything [me and my husband] love most started."
She ended her post by dropping some sage wisdom: "We feel as though we need to follow society's stigma on what we should look like when, in fact, we should just do what we feel works for us. No body has the same body. And every body has their own body. Enjoy it."
Asked to identify that stigma in a follow-up interview, Watts said it isn't other women so much as the world we live in. "I don’t even think I can name it," Watts explained. "We’re made to feel like we aren’t good enough. We aren’t skinny enough, we aren’t big enough, we aren’t fit enough or we’re to fit. We feel as though other people are more important than ourselves. We feel as though we aren’t good enough, when we are. The stigma is our own minds being played with by societies advertising and we accept it."
The post has so far received over 6,400 'likes' and garnered hundreds of comments, many of which were from women who themselves had C-sections. "I struggle daily with effects mentally and physically of my c section, this brings me back to reality and thankfulness," one commenter wrote. "Ur amazing!! Everyday I either [dodge] looking at my c section x 2 scar n shelf left from it! I cry or I hate, so lovely see great mum being brave!" wrote another.
"The responses to the post have been amazing," Watts said. "Majority of them are women who felt like they needed the reminder that they’ve done this done too and its pretty awesome. Some women have thanked me for reminding them though they don’t feel like there body is anything special that in-fact it is.
There were so many comments, in fact, that Watts wrote a follow-up post specifically addressing a republished version of the image with the headline "real post baby body" — "real" being a word Mic has previously highlighted for its problematic and often-unspecific implications. "I think we all need to remember no matter how fit, how unfit, how small or how large our bodies were, we are all real," Watts explained regarding what inspired her to address the headline.
"We’re made to feel like we aren’t good enough. We aren’t skinny enough, we aren’t big enough, we aren’t fit enough or we’re to fit. We feel as though other people are more important than ourselves. We feel as though we aren’t good enough, when we are. You’ve given birth, your post-baby body may take you two weeks or a year to try and even regain. Who cares?! Enjoy the baby and what you’ve created."