Campaign for infertility awareness
A couple of weeks ago Tanis Jex-Blake, an Alberta mother of five, was sunbathing in her bikini and was publicly bullied and ridiculed by a group of adult passerbys about how gross her stretch marks and mom belly was. This was the first time she had worn a bikini since becoming a mom over a decade ago. The public reaction was immediate and for the most part women everywhere have come out and supported her and some quite literally marched and bared their bellies to show their solidarity.
I think that by going public Jex-Blake has created some fantastic body positive messaging for moms everywhere, especially in the wake of What's Your Excuse Mom (Mary Kang) who has been accused of fat shaming her peers. Is "What's Your Excuse Mom" a boastful fat-shaming B$%ch or is she just someone who worked hard and is trying to motivate people to choose fitness? I have read some of her stuff and to sum it up, she is disliked for her firm stance on what is healthy with some very vocal criticisms on the fat acceptance movement. Kang is the type of advocate that we love to hate in the same way we cheer for Jex-Blake. Only it's not nearly as black and white as it's being fed to us via the web and media. I admire Jex-Blake's courage, however the fact that she felt the need to specify her current weight into her commentary showed me that we're further from mark than we need to be in a way strikingly similar to "What's Your Excuse Mom". In Jex-Blake's social media post to her bullies she wrote, "I’m sorry that my stomach isn’t flat and tight. I’m sorry that my belly is covered in stretch marks. I’m NOT sorry that my body has housed, grown, protected, birthed and nurtured FIVE fabulous, healthy, intelligent and wonderful human beings, I’m sorry if my 33 year old, 125 lb body offended you so much that you felt that pointing, laughing, and pretending to kick me (was acceptable)."
Jex-Blake's statement of her own weight dilutes her intended body positive affirming message. It's presented like her body shaming is a bigger injustice because of what the scale says. Is being bullied at the beach any less justifiable at 125lbs than it is at 150lb, 175lbs or 200lbs? While I truly believe that Jex-Blake stands behind her cause the same way "What's Your Excuse Mom" does, I somehow feel that they're losing some of their messaging by inadvertently being so public about some of their own insecurities. Unfortunately, because of this, women are polarized. We are making these women victims or heroes instead of focusing on the positive things they are trying to do.
Most of us (myself included) could probably eat a little better or exercise a little bit more, but we should also be proud of what our bodies can do, what they've accomplished, whether it's carrying children, running your very first mile or fifteenth in a row. These women are advocating for themselves and women everywhere, which is truly commendable, but have they let their own issues get in the way of what they want to accomplish? I have an audience that is more captive than the Internet. They are two three year old kids and watch and listen to so many of the things I say and do. I guess what I'm really trying to say is quite simply, we need to be kinder to each other and kinder to ourselves, period.
The photo that started the controversy from Kang.
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