Model Emily Ratajkowski, who gave birth to her first child Sylvester Apollo Bear on March 8, has divided social media users after sharing a video and photo of her post-partum body. So far, the images have garnered over 63,000 likes and hundreds of comments.
After sharing the footage of herself modeling loungewear on her Inamorata Woman account a little over a week after delivering Sylvester, many commented on Emily's flat stomach. Of course, while it goes without saying that the model ought to be able to share whatever photographs she likes of herself, without having people tell her she's right or wrong for doing so, it has sparked a widespread debate—and an important and nuanced one at that.
Because the issues of beauty standards, body confidence, and post-partum bodies affect so many people personally, the images have kickstarted a wider conversation about the pressure put on women to "snap back" after giving birth.
Some are saying Emily is just living her life and it shouldn't be anybody's business what her body looks like after birth (besides hers), whereas others are saying her flat stomach is an anomaly, and "flaunting" it so soon is making other women feel bad. There are also those praising Emily's appearance and others sharing how seeing her post-partum figure makes them feel personally.
As well as those commenting underneath the images directly, self-love influencers and Pretty Little Liars star, Claire Holt, have also publicly shared their thoughts.
Taking to Instagram Stories, actress Claire said, "I try not to be the Grinch on here, but I really wanna say something cos it's annoying me. If you post a picture of your completely flat stomach 10 days after having a baby and call that body positivity, to me that's the same as posting a picture of the millions of dollars in your bank account and calling that success positivity."
Claire added, "It might be true, but it makes other people feel shitty about themselves, and it's not normal, and you're an outlier, and you're lucky. So maybe don't show that part? Can we just use Instagram to try and make people feel included and not feel sh*t about themselves?" She also shared a photograph of herself two weeks after having her daughter, Elle, with a bump still visible.
Popular body positivity champion and anti-diet activist Alex Light took another approach and instead, asked her audience to consider the systems in place that make us so fixated on a woman's "perfect" or "not perfect" body after giving birth in the first place.
"I understand why [the photos of Emily Ratajkowski] make so many women feel bad... seeing someone just 11 days after birth looking like a supermodel, for lack of a better term, might very well be detrimental to your mental health," wrote Alex in a recent post. "Do I also think what [she] shared is helpful to issues around post-pregnancy bodies and the pressures surrounding new mums? Not necessarily."
She continued, "I think it's important to account for the wider impact this picture will have and I do, unfortunately, think it will be negative. But, crucially, she never tried to be part of a conversation around post-pregnancy bodies. This was projected onto her."
Alex also added that she strongly disagrees with the shaming that Emily is receiving after posting her images. "She is allowed to celebrate her post-pregnancy—or pre-pregnancy, or during-pregnancy—body however she wishes. It's her platform, her space, and she shouldn't have to be 'relatable' to be accepted, or appreciated, or not shamed."
She finished by urging people to stop comparing themselves to others, as it only leads to feeling like "our worth, our value and our acceptance of ourselves will always lie in something external" rather than coming from within, where it ought to.
Emily has yet to comment on the conversation.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.