When Dutch stroller company Bugaboo released the following image depicting a young bikini-clad mother jogging with her stroller, they could never have predicted the international controversy it would accrue. It started when the Dutch company posted the now-infamous picture on their Instagram and Facebook accounts with the caption, “Wow doesn’t model and mother of 2-year old Lymée, Ymre Stiekema look amazing in this @nlvogue shoot!”
It wasn’t long before the first comment appeared on Facebook.
“I often also jog in a bikini.”
And then came another.
“I do too!!! But I also need a half roll of duct tape for jiggle maintenance ;)”
Within a few short hours, the picture received hundreds of likes, and hundreds of comments, both positive and negative. Eventually, the seemingly innocent post garnered international media attention, after hundreds of moms took to Facebook and Instagram, voicing their outrage at the photo, deemed “unrealistic.”
Some people even questioned whether or not the young model was a good mom and took to body-shaming to make sure their frustration was heard loud and clear.
Not all comments were negative, however. A few moms supported the model, and cited “jealousy” as the real motivation behind the eye-rolling comments.
Stiekema responded in statements to Bugaboo, explaining how she lost the post-baby weight and got back her svelte figure. She told the company that breast-feeding was largely responsible for her initial weight-loss and admitted to waiting about six weeks before participating in more strenuous physical activity. Now, she focuses on cardio to maintain her body, though she also loves yoga, and tries to fit in a session whenever her busy schedule allows.
“When I’m at home, I try to work out every day, and I’ll always put on my workout gear if my hotel has a small gym or the location is good for running,” she mentioned. It probably doesn’t hurt that Stiekema’s boyfriend is a personal trainer in the Netherlands, providing her with free personalized workout advice and training; though the model mom admits she prefers going to the gym solo.
Jealousy or not, it’s hard not to question what the bigger issue with the controversy is: the unrealistic expectation of moms to go jogging in little more than their skivvies, or the disgust that so many women have expressed over the “standard” Ymre set with her own body.
Being a mother is hard work—no matter who you are. And not everyone has access to a fleet of nannies, free yoga memberships, and 800-dollar strollers designed specifically for joggers. Not every mom can balance daily gym routines with two bouncy toddlers and a full or part-time job. The controversial Instagram photo absolutely does not depict real life for most mothers. But it is from a photoshoot in Vogue, the pinnacle of high-end fashion.
Lost in this debate is a recognition that although she is a supermodel, Ymre is a real woman and a real mom, who really had a real baby two years before the ad was posted. It’s hurtful to shame women for carrying around extra weight after having a baby, just as it is to tell a thinner mom that her body isn’t “real.”
We all come from different backgrounds, and have different struggles to cope with as mothers. There is such a wide variation of mothers in the world, there is no real “one-size-fits-all,” which is why we like to celebrate all moms, just as they are.
Instead of shaming a young woman for how she looks, we might instead try celebrating all moms for participating in the most selfless and rewarding experience there is: raising a child.