Mothercare, a UK-based brand of “prams and pushchairs” (strollers), has released a new body-positive ad campaign. Inspired by Dove’s “Campaign For Real Beauty”, Mothercare wanted to show motherhood in its rawest and truest form. The famously unretouched photography of Sophie Mayanne brought a touch of realness to an often overlooked experience - the postpartum weeks. Of course, pregnancy changes the human form in many ways. Some women emerge from pregnancy with scars, stretch marks , even physical handicaps. Most moms develop stretch marks and saggy stomach skin they prefer to hide. Mothercare, along with Mayanne, want to flip the script on postpartum bodies.
“The aim is for mums of all shapes and sizes to be able to identify with these photos in one way or another, and to feel more confident with their imperfections.” - Mayanne
One of the biggest issues at play is a lack of representation. Across all forms of media, women are usually portrayed in one of two ways: virginal or extremely sexual. It’s extremely rare to see women portrayed in their postpartum state, let alone in a realistic way. Tina, one of the women in the photo series, was an adult before she realized that baby bumps don’t automatically disappear. In fact, she learned this only when Kate Middleton emerged from the hospital with her first child, Prince George. The Duchess had a visible “bump” that is typical of the first days after giving birth.
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It is nearly impossible to achieve peak physical condition in the postpartum period. The women posing in Mothercare’s campaign are squarely in the early postpartum period, when many women don’t feel their best. Yet the series of photos are emblazoned with the phrase, “Beautiful, Isn’t She?” They’re all stunning women, each carrying their baby (or babies!) and posing in their skivvies. And yes. They are beautiful!
More importantly, they’re present. Women unaccustomed with an average postpartum body now have several body-positive examples to look to! These gorgeous women embody strength, hope, and courage. Each of them radiates happiness and a sense of confidence that will inspire all future mothers.
Even though many women find inspiration in the campaign, titled “Body Proud Mums”, some find fault. Writer Tracey Clark-Flory laments, “The not-so-subtle subtext reads: I sacrificed this for this. These photos tell a righteous tale of maternal sacrifice sacrifice, of women who let themselves go for the only reason women are ever supposed to let themselves go (and not just physically, either): motherhood.”
“There is nothing bold about this advertising campaign, the least of which is because it follows a surge in using ‘body positivity’ and ‘empowerment’ and ‘feminism’ to sell women shit.” - Clark-Flory
Just as no two postpartum bodies are alike, no two women will share exactly the same perspective. If women find this show of solidarity uplifting and empowering, all the better for them! If it’s just another reminder of a patriarchal society that devalues women - then use that rage as fuel for change! The campaign is here to stay - you can find it on UK bus stops and billboards everywhere.