Ashley Graham, one of America’s top plus-sized models, is no stranger to being body-shamed – but as a new mom, she’s not prepared to tolerate mom-shamers.
“Mommy-shamers are just mean girls who grew up to be mothers. I can sit here and tell you that I just brush it off, but I don't brush it off,” Ashley said in a recent episode of Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk titled Mom Shaming: The New Epidemic.
Ashley’s son, Isaac, with her husband, Justin Ervin, was born nine months ago, and she’s been on the receiving end of comments that range from mean to hateful. She’s been criticised for a range of things, including public breastfeeding and changing her son’s nappy on the floor.
She often shares images on social media of Isaac being breastfed, which has made her an inspiration and a target for the online mommy-shamers.
“The first time I took Isaac out in public he was just under a month old, and I wanted to go to my favourite brunch spot. And I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, what am I going to do if I have to breastfeed?’,” she said referring to one of her first breastfeeding photos.
“Well, I’m just going to whip out my boob and feed him. So I said to my husband, ‘Justin, take a picture! This is my first time breastfeeding him in public, this is something I always want to remember’,” Ashley said.
She “agonised” over what to write before posting it – “and sure enough I got mom-shamed”.
“It’s interesting because my whole career has been around body-shaming because I’m a curvy girl who has come into a skinny world; who said that my body, and other bodies like mine, need to be normalised.
“I knew [mom-shaming] was coming and I was ready to combat it, but it never feels good to have someone tell you that you’re not doing a good enough job, that you’re doing something wrong.”
CHECK OUT THE RED TABLE TALK HERE: MOM SHAMING
Other celeb moms have also faced public-shaming.
The actress and entrepreneur has been a target of mom-shaming for over a decade. She has three kids, Honor (12), Haven (9), and Hayes (2), with her husband, Cash Warren.
The actress said she has had “a lot of therapy” over the years, and learnt that people who shame, usually have their own issues.
“I've come to this place where I realise that most people who have something to say, it’s because they’re so insecure and it’s more of them being ashamed of themselves, them being overly critical and for whatever reason, the natural reaction is to pull other people apart for them to feel justified or them to feel OK,” The Honest Company mogul reflected.
JADA PINKETT SMITH
The Red Table Talk co-host said the first time she was seriously mom-shamed and received “hardcore criticism” was when daughter Willow (19) shaved her head when she was 12.
The actress says the comments about her son, Jaden (22), were even worse because he was not seen “as your typical black man”.
“Even in the community, we create stereotypes around ourselves and it’s something that we, as a community, really have to learn how to let go of,” she said, adding that “black and brown mothers are shamed more than any other group”.
The Bad Moms star was shamed for breastfeeding daughter Wyatt (now 6) in public when she was a baby. But the mom-of-two was not having any of it.
“If it’s not for you, don’t look,” she told Vanity Fair in 2016.
“It’s what I chose to do, but I think it’s unfortunate that people are so hard on women who choose to do it and do it in public. In the States and in our culture, we sexualise the breast so much that there’s an aspect of it that people just don’t know how to wrap their head around,” the actress said.
When the singer-songwriter shared a photo of herself cooking with her daughter, Willow (9), and then 6-month-old son Jameson in 2017, she was criticised for holding him in a carrier on her chest near the stove.
She was accused of putting Jameson in “a dangerous” situation.
And in December 2016 she was shamed for sitting in front of the microwave and drinking coffee while pregnant with him.
Pink laughed off the shamers by sharing a link to a story that criticised her photo on Twitter.
“This was a really good laugh. Enjoy over a cup of coffee,” she wrote, then tweeted, “Uh oh. Now I’m a mommy-shamer-shamer.”
Kate shared a video of herself dancing with friends which had mom-shamers up in arms, saying she should have been home with her then-18-year-old daughter, Lily Mo Sheen, and not partying.
The actress responded with, “What’s amazing is it is no longer the 18th century so now that my one child is grown I don’t have to stay home (while she’s out with her own friends ) playing the pianoforte, getting consumption or trying to secure her a marriage. But thank you for the quaint blast from the past. Oh, and I can vote now too! YAY.”
• Commenting on breastfeeding
Some moms are unable to breastfeed or choose not to breastfeed – and that’s okay. Don’t criticise her choice.
• Commenting on her choice to work or to stay at home
Saying things like, “I would miss my baby too much to leave her all day,” can be a passive-aggressive way of judging her choices, which have nothing to do with you.
• Questioning her baby’s milestones
All babies are different and develop differently. Chances are, she’s reading the same websites and books that you are.
•“Correcting” how she parents her baby
Even the best intentions can come across as judgemental.
• Pushing your values and choices
Every mom is doing their best. Your choices are best for your baby, but it’s not your job to make other moms follow your lead.
• Commenting on other moms’ bodies
Don’t do it. Just don’t.
• Questioning her birth choices
Again, it’s her choice, for her reasons. Question or judging it won’t accomplish anything.