It’s not every day that an actor starts calling out problematic behavior on Instagram — but hey, maybe more people are taking a leaf out of Jameela Jamil’s book. Now, Amanda Seyfriend is calling out an influencer’s post-baby body pic for not acknowledging her privilege and for promoting unrealistic, patriarchal body standards. It’s a long, messy story with many players, so let’s dive right in.
Arielle Charnas, an influencer with 1.2 million followers, posted a photo of herself in a bikini with the caption “proud of my body after two kids.” While the sentiment alone is one worth celebrating, a friend of Seyfried’s commented on the post addressing some issues she thinks Charnas is ignoring. When Charnas subsequently deleted the comment and blocked the user, Seyfried posted a screenshot of her friend’s words to her own Instagram feed.
The comment cited three main issues with Charnas’ post: a failure to acknowledge her privilege, promoting an unrealistic body image and not making the most of her platform and influence. “If you don’t acknowledge how your wealth made your workouts/body possible, you’re just perpetuating the patriarchal (totally unrealistic) notion that mothers should “bounce back” after childbirth, an impossibility for anyone who can’t afford ample childcare (which is almost everyone in this country),” the comment reads.
This portion of the comment’s critique hit home: It’s wonderful if this post inspires other women, and it’s wonderful that Charnas herself feels good about her body. But for women who are struggling to find the time money, or motivation to reach their postpartum goals, this post could be dispiriting at best — or cause a sense of hopelessness at worst. Even a quick mention of how lucky she is to have the resources she needs to achieve her goals might have comforted women whose self-worth is affected by not being able to meet the same standard.
The comment continues: “Honeychild, you are glorifying an unhealthy body image (I don’t care if it’s “natural,” don’t even try that sh*t with me) in a society that already fetishizes the adolescent female form. Young girls don’t need any more images of emaciated women thank you very much.”
It’s true that Charnas is very thin and that her body type does resemble an unhealthy standard promoted in the media (and by photoshopped celebrity Instagrams). But given that Charnas does appear to have a naturally thin body type, the criticism rings a bit hollow — mothers (and all women) of every size and shape have the right to be proud of their bodies.
The comment concludes: “I know you’re better than this. Why not use your platform to encourage more women to be ambitious business women, or say, run for office, or maybe, sheesh, I don’t know, do something to help the kids literally dying in cages? But what do I know, YOU DO YOU!”
Again, the criticism seems to miss the mark: Charnas runs a lifestyle account and has developed an audience specifically interested in this type of content. But the comment makes one valid point: Once you acquire a platform of this level, it’s your responsibility to use that influence wisely.
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Fuck it- this is feed material. My very smart friend (again-not tagging) wrote this on a semi-influencer’s feed and she blocked both of us (even though I didn’t tag her-at least she’s getting the message). If we’re ready to get paid for flaunting our lifestyle (and inspiring some in the meantime) we have to be open to the discussions surrounding what we’re promoting. We have to back ourselves up- not run away from the issues it presents. There are gray areas everywhere. Each of us has a chance to back ourselves- especially on this platform. If you know who you are- take a second to decide if what you’re throwing out there is worth it- in the big picture. 👊🏼
Seyfried’s post of this comment comes with a caption of its own, in which the Mamma Mia star doubles down on the idea that influence is a gift — and Charnas may not be making the most of it. “If we’re ready to get paid for flaunting our lifestyle (and inspiring some in the meantime) we have to be open to the discussions surrounding what we’re promoting,” Seyfried writes. “If you know who you are- take a second to decide if what you’re throwing out there is worth it- in the big picture.”
However valid you find the original comment’s critique, Seyfried’s suggestion that influential people everywhere to consider what they’re promoting is a sound one. Given the current prevalence of social media — especially for young people — it’s at the very least a conversation we need to be having.