In a simple, #nofilter mirror selfie, actress Tia Mowry stands barefoot and smirking in a white sunlit room wearing a fitted white tee shirt, black leggings, and loose curls. Just under two months of giving birth to her second child, Tia’s tummy is not as flat as it was prior to her pregnancy, and she’s doing more than accepting it: she’s owning it and sharing with all of Instagram.
“Some #pregnant women after giving birth no longer have a belly after 7 weeks. While others it may take a little longer,” writes Tia in her caption, “Me, I’m the latter.”
The medical term for the postpartum belly is diastasis recti, and according to WebMD, the condition impacts over 3 million people in the US each year. Connective tissue thins out when a mother’s hormone levels change to enlarge the uterus to help allow the baby to grow, and sometimes, the tissues lose their ability to retract back into position.
“I remember after giving birth to Cree, my belly didn’t all of a sudden go flat,” Tia writes, “I did have a C-Section, (as well as with my second pregnancy) and I thought something was wrong with me. I had seen in magazines the many women on the beach a few weeks #postpartum in a two piece.” Instead of contributing another image of a flat-bellied recent mother or shying away from the spotlight, Tia took charge and took control of her narrative.
This is especially significant for someone who grew up as a child star. Many who grow up in the public eye are harshly scrutinized once their bodies begin to change as bodies are apt to do, particularly if their bodies have, as Tia beautifully phrases it, “housed a human being.”
Tia also opened up about other realities of postpartum life in an Instagram post during the previous week. In the photo, Tia holds her newborn and smiles triumphantly.
“Coming up for air. Boobs glorious boobs. Feeling pretty good! Wasn’t able to breastfeed Cree for long because of low milk supply! However, this time around I have plenty,” writes Tia. “Lots of teas, water, #fenugreek, and a high protein diet has contributed! More importantly, say no to stress!! I’m able to pump 12 ounces alone in the morning for my little brown suga! #breastfeeding#momlife #motherhood #postpartum#6weeks Ps. My ankles have returned.”
Tia’s openness regarding the changes, triumphs, and challenges of motherhood allows women to see that they aren’t alone. While Tia’s sincerity is, based on the assenting comments left on her photos, encouraging for recent moms, it’s also reassuring for non-moms who deviate from any conventional beauty standard.
Tia perfectly stated that self-love doesn’t always come easy. She ends her post with words that remind us of the importance of keeping the most significant things in sight and letting the way we feel about ourselves emerge from more than the way we look: “To be honest, it had to take time for me to embrace my new body. With this second pregnancy, I now have embraced that fact that I’ve housed a human being. A miracle. A life. If it takes a while for me to get back to my normal self, than so be it. This.Is.Me. And I love me.”
Kayla Heisler is an essayist and Pushcart Prize nominated poet. She is a contributing writer for Color My Bubble. Her work appears in New York's Best Emerging Poets anthology.