My body has always been a delicate subject for me. For years, I struggled (and still struggle) with my body image and not feel like I could meet the social standards of what I should look like. After having a kid, my postpartum body image has become an even more fragile topic to navigate. 

I get it. I’m not the same 18-year-old that I once was who felt comfortable wearing crop tops and shorts. Now, I’m often in leggings and one of my husband’s shirts. I look for the high-rise “mom jeans” when I’m in the Target aisle to cover up the extra skin on my stomach. Because in my mind, who would want to see that anyways?

It’s sad—ridiculous actually—how much my mind has been tainted when it comes to the image of my body. Society has poisoned our understanding of beauty, especially when it comes to women’s bodies after having kids. 

Related: Thank you for loving my body more than I can right now

We’re expected to bounce back. We’re expected to lose the baby weight. We’re expected to look anything but a mother.

But why?

Yes, maybe our bodies have changed in more than evident ways—but that doesn’t mean it is an open invitation for you to comment on it. I cannot begin to count the number of people who have felt the need to address the differences of my body after I gave birth to my son. 

You don’t even look like you’ve had a baby. You’re still so small!”

“Are you pregnant again?”

“Are you sure you’re eating enough?”

“You’ve finally gained a little weight!”

As someone who’s been pretty petite her entire life, I’m here to say that the comments about me being “too small” are just as offensive as the comments about me “finally gaining weight.” The “Wow, you don’t look like you even had a kid” insinuates that this is how it’s supposed to be. Women giving birth and not looking the part. But why should it be a problem if we do look like we’ve had a kid? It’s one of the most monumental moments of our lives! So let us have it.

Related: These powerful postpartum photos are changing how mothers see themselves 

My journey of accepting my postpartum body has been a difficult one. I still can’t say that I’m fully there yet. But unsolicited comments from family members, friends and strangers do nothing to help me. 

These are my insecurities, and I have to tend to them. But society needs to understand the harmful nature of feeling entitled to comment on a woman’s body—especially after she has children. Our bodies don’t need to be commented on. Pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy or even after.

I’m sure some comments are not meant to be harmful, (especially ones that you may deem as “compliments”) but any comment aids this societal idea that a woman’s worth is measured by her looks. And it’s not.

Women gain weight. Women lose weight. Women age. Women evolve. But that doesn’t make us less than. Our bodies change just like everyone else’s. So why are we an open forum for your comments? It has to stop. And while society wants to make sure our “bounce back” is at the top of our daily to-do list, guess what? For many mothers like me, it’s not. Because we have far greater things to worry about, like raising our little humans the best we possibly can.

Maybe I don’t want to get back to my pre-baby body. Maybe I’m finding beauty in where my body is right now. After all, she just gave me the most beautiful child and I couldn’t be more grateful.

This is my “mom-bod.” And I am beyond proud of it. After all, I played the part. So why not look it, too?