As Stacey Solomon’s Bikini Photo Is Praised, Why Are we Obsessed With Postpartum Bodies?

Getty / Joe Maher

History always seems to repeat itself, doesn’t it? Stacey Solomon gave birth two months ago to a healthy baby girl, Belle, and is on her first holiday with all five of her children in Abu Dhabi. But instead of fans revelling in the beautiful memories that the “Loose Women” star has chosen to share online, almost all of the comments have been centred around one aspect: her body.

“Gorgeous pics Stacey and thank you for normalising Mum bods,” one comment read beneath the post, which saw the 33-year-old holding her newborn daughter while sitting on the beach in a black bikini. “Just a beautiful natural woman unashamedly embracing her body,” said another fan, while a third echoed: “I love seeing a real unfiltered mummy on here! So refreshing.” The list goes on. While of course, Solomon’s post is positive and it’s great that she can help others feel seen, there is a wider issue at play. How society view women’s bodies, especially postpartum bodies, reverberates loud and clear: women are either expected to “bounce back” or are praised for “embracing” their natural postpartum body.

Lindsay McGlone, a body positive influencer, tells POPSUGAR that the mere existence of being in a body type which doesn’t adhere to societal norms doesn’t need to make you “brave”.”Embracing your postpartum body is absolutely something that should be celebrated, but it makes me question why it isn’t a given that we can exist in any body type without it being ‘brave’ or sensationalised?”

“Embracing your postpartum body is absolutely something that should be celebrated, but it makes me question why it isn’t a given that we can exist in any body type without it being ‘brave’ or sensationalised?”

As for those who choose to return to exercise after giving birth (at a time that’s safe, and discussed with a doctor or midwife beforehand, of course), they are often subjected to comments around “bouncing back”, which further fuels the discourse around toxic diet culture and unhealthy beauty standards.

This puts unnecessary strain on new mums to worry about their appearance rather than enjoy those early days with their newborns and – let’s face it – catch up on some much-needed rest. “There’s a fixation around what a woman’s body should ‘return’ to, and unfortunately, it’s used to measure how well someone who’s given birth is doing,” McGlone says. “This is completely wrong, it’s a body, an exterior.”

Molly-Mae Hague recently came under scrutiny for returning to the gym at three-and-a-half weeks postpartum, while fitness influencer Tammy Hembrow was branded as “unrealistic” for posting pictures of her body 12 days after giving birth to her third child last year. It seems women literally can’t win.

Meanwhile, men with “dad bods” have always been seen as sexy and attractive, with no expectation on them to change their body or be hailed as “brave” for existing in a body which has taken them through to parenthood. Chris Pratt, Adam Sandler, and Pierce Brosnan have all featured on best “dad bod” lists, while Jeremy Clarkson has been voted as the UK’s sexiest man alive in 2023, as per a poll on IllicitEncounters. And before we start picking and choosing what body types are desirable, let’s not forget the way that 18-year-old Billie Eilish was ridiculed for “developing a mid-30’s wine mom body” during lockdown.

Instead, McGlone suggests that people learn to look at bodies with body neutrality, where they become more accepting of them. “Body neutrality and body autonomy is definitely the way we should be heading,” McGlone suggests. Rather than concentrating on physical appearance, the focus should instead be placed on what amazing things the body can do. “Body positivity is absolutely necessary for those living in marginalised bodies to be centred in a positive way but as a whole reaching body neutrality is achievable by all and should be practised,” McGlone concludes. After all, Solomon is not a martyr for people who have recently given birth, she’s just enjoying her holiday. And so she should.

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