Model and washboard abs extraordinaire Sarah Stage has given birth to a healthy baby boy named James Hunter. This news comes following a firestorm of bizarre media coverage of her toned shape throughout the duration of her full term pregnancy, much of which constitutes body shaming, when you think about it. Why are we body shaming a pregnant woman, you may be wondering? Your guess is as good as mine, but it seems the majority teeter between assuming she was jeopardizing the health of her developing baby and setting unrealistic standards for the bodies of other soon-to-be mothers (in which case we should be asking, “You feeling OK? Your face is looking a little green…”).
“James Hunter (4/14/15) 8.7lbs/22 inches of HEALTHY baby!” Stage wrote on her Instagram on Tuesday, captioning a picture of the little one bundled into a painfully adorable fox-themed ensemble. By why should Stage have to feel the need to clarify her baby’s wellness for 1.6 million strangers who follow her on Instagram? What if something beyond her control had gone terribly wrong during her labor (which can have nothing to do with prenatal care)? Would we then be lambasting Stage for her light prenatal pilates?
Here are a few of the things written on her Instagram throughout her term:
- “YOU ARE IN YOUR UNDERWEAR! AND PREGNANT. YOU HAVE NO SHAME.”
- “Just wonder how can b healthy for baby.. I loved getting big and showing..”
- “Your baby is going to weight like 5 or 6 pounds”
- “The bump is pure baby, there is nothing else in there lol she definitely wasn't 'eating for two'... Unbelievable”
So we, as women, are stuck in between a rock and hard place here. As Bustle’s Lucia Peters pointed out a few weeks ago, the media sang her praises for her fit pregnancy body, one that’s not typical for the average pregnant mother; and in that regard, if we’re to believe as readers that our bodies need to look like that of a professionally physically fit, naturally petite woman, we have some soul-searching to do.
But alternatively, who are we to shame her for her model-thin frame? Why are we as bystanders spewing vitriol at a mother-to-be? “Sure, we can do our best to work out and eat right and live healthily, but body type is also dependent on your genes. None of us can control that, so comparing ourselves to others with a totally different genetic background is about as useful as comparing cats to lizards,” wrote Peters. So let’s quit it with the hellish body policing, shall we?