Kelly Diane Howland was shopping at a Target store with her newborn baby when another woman peddling a supposed fitness product walked up to her and asked if she had ever heard of "It Works," a line of products that include wraps purported to contour and tone any area of the body.
The encounter triggered a response from Howland on social media that seems to be resonating with a lot of people.
Her message: Society has an obsession with new moms bouncing back after having a baby, a form of postpartum body-shaming that needs to stop.
On April 12, Howland posted a picture on Facebook of her in the store holding her baby and a card, which was given to her by the woman advertising a before-and-after picture of a person's belly.
The post, which received more than 33,000 reactions and over 14,000 shares, sends a simple but important message: "Instead of leaning into superficial ideals imposed upon us, can we PLEASE start bucking the system and instead start praising each other for being the amazing, life giving, creation birthing vessels that we are?" Howland wrote.
"Can we PLEASE not perpetuate the pressure, the impossible expectations, and therefore keep alive the insecurities that we newly postpartum women face regarding our new and changing bodies as we enter motherhood?"
She went on to write that she suspected that she was solicited this weight loss product because "this culture hammers into postpartum women a lot of physical insecurity about their bodies after delivering their miracles from their wombs," adding, "I don't think I have to spell out for a single woman the cultural pressure that postpartum mothers face regarding their physical appearance. We know. We all know. She knew. And that's why she approached me."
A 2009 blog post on The Huffington Post by Jeana Lee Tahnk also waded into "the reality of post-baby body bounceback," writing, "Celebrities have trainers to work them out as often as they’d like; they have personal chefs to create healthful meals that are low-fat, low-calorie, low-carb or whatever the diet-du-jour is; they have nannies to help watch the kids so that they can exercise for hours at a time, travel and do things that are not possible for the vast majority of new moms who don’t have these luxuries. Simply put, it’s not realistic for the rest of us to have to live up to this almost impossible standard."
Society's overly critical stance on women's bodies contributes to a lack of body positivity among Americans, especially women. "At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S.," according to the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders site. Women take "half their lives to achieve half the level of body self-esteem as the average teenage male," according to the findings of a January 2016 study by Yahoo.
"Can we just offer each other adoration of the amazing things that we've accomplished and see our physical changes as marks of phenomenal accomplishment that only our sex has the privilege of experiencing?" Howland wrote. "My body doesn't need to be wrapped or squeezed or changed. It needs to be valued and revered for the incredible life it just brought into this world. THAT is beauty and THAT is all it needs."
Read her full Facebook post below.