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mothercare

These viral photos from a UK ad campaign celebrate postpartum bodies—and we're here for it

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For a long time brands and advertisers only spoke to mothers one way: by selling us an idealized version of motherhood in which our homes are spotless, our lives are easy and our bodies are free of stretch marks and any extra weight.

But over the last decade advertisers have discovered the power of reflecting our reality back to us. It turns out that valuing consumers as we are is a great way to sell things, and change a culture while you're at it. Since Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty" shocked mid-aughts' audiences by showing the bodies of non-models in their underwear, brands have been turning advertising campaigns into campaigns for body positivity, mirroring the content and language of a social media movement.

The latest brand to showcase the untouched bellies and bodies of non-model moms in its advertisements is Mothercare, a UK retailer of "prams and pushchairs" (translation: strollers) car seats, clothes and everything else expecting moms are likely to register for and buy in the early years of parenthood.

Mothercare's "Body Proud Mums campaign" brought real moms in front of the camera of photographer Sophie Mayanne, who is known for leaving the authentic, imperfect beauty of the human form untouched by digital erasers. "The images depict the raw and incredibly emotional experience of childbirth. 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," says Maryanne.

Now the ads are displayed in London's public transportation system and are going viral on social media.

Mothercare's campaign has done its job as an advertising campaign and social one. People all over the world are talking about the beauty of postpartum bodies, or as The Guardian says, "pillowy bellies and engorged breasts."

As Sophie Mayanne, the photographer, told CNN, the photos are about documenting and showcasing the diversity of motherhood because "there are a lot of marginalized bodies we don't see represented in the media."

Critics of the campaign suggest it reinforces limiting ideas about women's worth in society and does little to normalize postpartum bodies, but the women photographed believe that showing their stretched bellies and scars are doing society a service (even if it is also in the service of a retailer).

Tina, photographed with her two children, explains how much the world needs to see photos like these: "I, myself remember being really surprised when Kate Middleton came out of the hospital holding Prince George. She had the baby bump, and I remember being surprised that your belly doesn't just go down after giving birth. I also thought how stupid I was to have ever thought it would. I guess pre children you just have unrealistic expectations."

The fact that a grown woman could look at Kate Middleton coming out of the hospital with her new baby and expect to see a bumpless Duchess speaks volumes to how our society has (up until quite recently) hidden the postpartum form from public view, and certainly from advertisements aimed at moms and moms-to-be.

Not seeing postpartum bodies made it harder for Tina to adjust when hers became one: "I also put pressure on myself to try and get my body back, but as I slowly transition into motherhood I am realising that it's actually not that important, and I just need to be OK in my own skin rather than worrying about what everyone else thinks."

It's been more than a decade since Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty," blazing a body positive trail that brands like Knix, Aerie, and Target tread to this day. Showing diverse bodies in advertising does help normalize them, which helps more women feel comfortable in their own skin.

Advertising is used to sell us a thing, but the side effect is selling us an idea of who we should be. This campaign is telling mothers that their bodies are beautiful and that they should love who they are. It's an important idea, one worth amplifying in any way possible. The fact that it's being used to sell pushchairs and prams doesn't make it any less important or powerful.

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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

This article was sponsored by Kinder. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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Bestselling author, professor and researcher Brené Brown is well-known and loved for her inspirational approach to life's challenges (and for her Netflix special The Call to Courage)‚ but even she acknowledges that the coronavirus pandemic presents a whole new set of challenges for families.

"Collectively, what I see is a growing weariness. I think we're tired, physically, emotionally, spiritually exhausted," Brown said on Monday in an interview for the Today Show, adding that part of the challenge is acknowledging that we're in it for the long haul. "We're going to have to settle into a new normal, while grieving the old normal, which is a lot to ask of people."

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With schools and workplaces closed and social distancing measures in effect across the country, many parents are pulling triple-duty at home right now as full-time caregivers, homeschool instructors and workers. At some moments, it can (understandably) feel as if parenting through coronavirus requires more than we have to give.

Enter Brown's "family gap plan," which can help families bridge the gap during tough moments.

As Brown explains it, "I'd say (to my husband), 'Steve, all I have is 20%.' And he's like, 'Hey, I've been holding down the fort here. All I got is 20.' So we'd say, 'Okay, we've got a gaping 60%. What are our rules when we don't have 100% as a family?'"

Brown stresses the importance of keeping lines of communication open as a family: "Let people know where you are." She and her husband have a policy of being honest with their children about moments when they feel low-energy or high-stress.

"I'll say, 'We have to make 100 as a family. I've got 20, and your dad's got 20. What do we do to get to 100?' And it's about the way we talk to each other, the way we show up with each other, extra kindness...and takeout."

In fact, Brown's kids helped come up with the set of rules their family follows whenever there's a "family gap" and things aren't adding up to 100%:

  • No harsh words
  • No nice words with harsh faces
  • Say you're sorry
  • Accept apologies with a "thank you" (as opposed to "okay," which can sound frosty)
  • More knock-knock jokes and puns

Every family is different, and your family's way of bridging the gap may call for a different set of rules (and the truth is, it's okay to not be okay sometimes). But as tactical, actionable advice for keeping the peace at home goes, the more humor and kindness, the better.

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About a week ago, it dawned on me: We don't have enough diapers on hand for my infant son to get through an extended quarantine due to coronavirus. At 9 months old, we go through about six diapers a day, which means we'd need about a pack a week to get through. Like many parents, my first thought was to stockpile diapers. My second thought was that if every parent stockpiled diapers, we would drive shortages and make it harder for families like this one to find the diapers they need—and harder for parents who cannot afford to stockpile diapers.

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Ultimately I decided to make the switch to cloth diapers for the first time, (I chose GroVia because they are simple for newbies like me), but like many families, I remain concerned about our ability to get the family supplies we need in the midst of Instacart and Amazon strikes, product outages and overall stockpiling driving up availability and prices.

It's hard to resist the urge to stockpile when you're worried about when you'll next be able to get formula, diapers and wipes for your baby. And many families, like mine, are having a near-impossible time finding available delivery slots from grocery stores and services like Instacart.

Here's the current state of formula, diapers and wipes, and how to make sure you can get the baby goods you need.

Formula

Experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics say that parents should keep 2-4 weeks of formula on hand at any given time. Dr. Steve Abrams, chair of the AAP Committee on Nutrition says "most families who have 2-4 weeks supply are in good shape," and asks that parents not stockpile formula so that all parents are able to access the formula that they need.

Dr. Abrams asks that parents attempt to be brand-flexible if possible, as they might have trouble getting the exact brand they usually buy. Most concerning are parents of children require specialized formula, like lactose-free formulas. In a story in The New York Times, mama Catie Weimer recounted her struggle to get sufficient amounts of specialized formula for her baby.

"Am I going to have to force him to drink a milk-based formula because that's what I can afford?" Weimer wondered.


It's a worry lots of mamas are facing.

Here's how to get access to formula:

If you're able to order online: Amazon is still selling baby formula with Amazon Prime delivery this week. Walmart is offering free delivery and free pickup at its stores, including baby formula. Target and their service Shipt, have pickup and delivery options, if you can snag a delivery slot.

If you need a specialized formula: The AAP recommends that you reach out to your pediatrician, who often have sample products on hand.

If you can't get formula: Regardless of your income or employment level, if you can't get baby formula you can find a food bank near you via Feeding America. Ask about resources for families with young children and infants. If you're previously or newly eligible for WIC due to changes in your employment, WIC offices can help you get formula if you're having trouble access or affording it. You can apply or find a local resource here. Lastly, you can dial 211 in the United States to be connected to local resources to find formula, as programs can vary from city to city.

Diapers

Some stores ran out of disposable diapers after a rush of bulk buying earlier this month, and while cloth diapers are a great alternative for some families they will not work for everyone, especially families who don't have easy access to laundry machines.

Disposable diapers can still be purchased at many stores, although you may have trouble finding your exact brand if it is popular. Walmart's website is currently showing many brands and sizes of diapers as in stock.

If coronavirus has made you or your partner unemployed or caused your pay to be reduced, check out the National Diaper Bank Network website for resources in your area, You can also dial 211 in many states to be connected to Essential Community Services, a resource that may be able to help you find diapers in your community.

Some community groups are organizing drive-by diaper giveaways, so stay tuned to your local community pages (and donate cash if you can).

Wipes

Baby wipes are hard to come by these days for a few reasons: Bulk purchasing early in the pandemic, people purchasing them when they could not find disinfectant wipes and because the toilet paper shortage made them a common second choice for people who would rather be using toilet paper.

Some parents are turning to DIY baby wipes, cutting up shirts and flannel sheets for their diapering needs, but that does not work for every family. If you need wipes and cannot find them, contact the diaper banks in your area. In some communities, grassroots organizations are even delivering wipes and other baby supplies.

Bottom line: It takes a lot more detective work to find what we need for our babies these days.

It is worth calling the smaller stores in your area to see if they have your item or brand in stock. If the big box stores are out of wipes, try calling the small pharmacies in your area to see if they have any left.

If it is possible for your family, reusable options may be a good choice to get you through.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Call the diaper banks or reach out to your local mom group to see if anyone else has an oversupply.

[This is a developing story. This page will be updated as more resources become available.]



News

Social distancing is hard on parents, kids and grandparents, but there is good news on the coronavirus front: New data reveals the restrictions and recommendations keeping people apart during the pandemic could be working. As the New York Times reports, new data from a company that makes internet-connected thermometers, Kinsa Health, is "making it clear that social distancing is saving lives."

Kinsa hosts a map of fever levels across the U.S. to track feverish illness levels across the U.S. Right now the map is suggesting that "due to widespread social distancing, school closures, stay-at-home orders, etc. feverish illness levels are dropping in many regions," Kinsa notes.

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The company adds, "This does not mean that COVID-19 cases are declining. In fact, we expect to see reported cases continue to surge in the near term, but it may indicate these measures are starting to slow the spread."

At the beginning of this week, more than three-quarters of the country showed a significant decline in fevers (Kinsa has about 1 million thermometers uploading more than 150,000 temperature readings per day).

The results of early social distancing protocols can be seen when comparing different regions in the U.S. Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist and infectious disease expert at UC San Francisco, tells The Los Angeles Times that early social distancing measures taken in California "happened closer to the introduction of the virus, so you haven't had as many generations of transmission. So there are fewer cases per capita in the population."

Rutherford is cautiously optimistic that the Bay Area will not see as many cases as New York because it seems like the early social distancing measures are working (if people keep abiding by them).

Up the coast, Jeff Duchin, Seattle & King County's Public Health Officer, says "The bottom line here should be that what we're doing now appears to be working, that we should in no way take these findings as an indication to relax our social distancing strategy, that we need to continue this for weeks."

President Trump agrees and wants people to stay home until April 30, and Virgina's Governor wants social distancing to continue in his state until June.

It's a long process and a challenging one—but it's working, mama.

News

For those who are used to having their child's grandparents around, the social distancing protocols during the coronavirus pandemic can be especially hard. With senior citizens and older adults being an at-risk group, many families have been separated in order to stop the spread of COVID-19, but as Amy Schumer proved this week that isn't stopping families from showing some love.

Schumer and her son stood on the street in a video posted to Instagram Monday, waving a sign that reads: "Hi Grandpa! We Love You!"

Schumer captioned the video: "Visiting dad" and the camera pans from her to her dad watching her from a window.

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Schumer has been social distancing with her son and her husband for quite a while now. She gave her husband a DIY haircut last week while isolating, like many house-bound families have been doing.

The coronavirus has forced so many families into a bubble and these are hard times, but posts like Schumer's remind us that we're all in this together (and that we should FaceTime our kids' grandparents).

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