When you first drag your postpartum self out of the house, newborn in tow, attention is pretty much the last thing you’re craving from total strangers. But teeny, tiny babies have a way of being conversation starters.
So when Kelly Howland and brand-new baby were roaming the aisle at her local Target and a woman stopped to chat, Howland at first thought nothing much of it. That is, until the stranger started a body-shaming sales pitch for It Works, a “skin care and nutrition” company — known for its supposed fat-shrinking body wraps. Ugh.
“I’m a brand new postpartum mom,” Howland said on Facebook. “And then she asks The Question: ‘Have you heard of It Works before?’ I tell her that I know what it is but I’ve never utilized it. She proceeds with artificial shock and surprise and gives me her card and her spiel.”
It Works promises that its products will “change your life.” But Howland’s perfectly happy with her life — something the roaming salesperson certainly didn’t take into account when she suggested Howland really needed to work on her looks.
We think Howland wrote brilliantly about what went down (and more kindly than we might have had it happened to us):
“Listen. I’m not upset this company exists. And I’m not even upset at this woman because she could be absolutely charming and just trying to hustle her own living and I have respect for a woman with guts to do that,” she wrote. “But let’s not pretend that approaching me specifically was a coincidence.”
And there’s the rub: Howland pointed out that the stranger wasn’t approaching every woman at the Target to hawk her wares. This was far from a coincidence in Howland’s obviously very newly postpartum state. This is predatory marketing, and it’s not cool.
“We all know that this culture hammers into postpartum women a lot of physical insecurity about their bodies after delivering their miracles from their wombs,” Howland added. “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.”
We are deeply impressed by Howland’s articulate plea for everyone — individuals and companies — to call a halt to expectations that foster insane insecurities in new mothers.
“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?” she wrote. “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?”
Our answer is a resounding YES. And a high-five. Well said, Kelly Howland.