Busting Bounce Back Culture

Bounce Back culture puts overwhelming pressure on a Mom’s body to “bounce back” after giving birth. Moms begin to stress over their physical appearance and how soon they can begin exercising instead of enjoying time with their new baby. Motherhood is such a beautiful thing and Moms are so much more than their physical appearance.

It’s important to take a minute to self-reflect and consider how we may be perpetuating Bounce Back culture. The smallest things can have a negative impact on someone who is already struggling emotionally, especially with self-image. For example, perhaps you’re a Mom who’s body naturally adjusted postpartum and it may appear that you’ve “bounced back.” Conversations regarding how quickly your body returned to its pre-baby appearance, with or without exercise and eating healthy, could immediately put negative thoughts in another Mom’s head. Even further, the praise of celebrity Moms who miraculously get their pre-baby bodies back 4 weeks postpartum also perpetuates the standard that Moms need to prioritize their physical appearance. 

The Toxicity of Bounce Back Culture 

Bounce Back culture can have serious negative effects on Moms as they attempt to adjust to postpartum life. The good and bad news is that you are not alone. Social media and society are so hyperfocused on appearance that Moms everywhere struggle with their self-image and body dysmorphia.

If we give into Bounce Back culture, this can contribute to postpartum depression, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and low self-esteem. Moms should be praised for the beautiful journey that their bodies have been on, but instead, we criticize her and ourselves, creating a messy cycle of body dissatisfaction. 

One Mom, Justine LoManoco, got candid about her struggle with postpartum self-image. LoManoco reflects, “Instead of focusing on the months after I gave birth as a time to care for myself and my baby, I found myself researching how quickly I could start working out again and exactly how much I needed to eat to support breastfeeding.”

Physical appearance should never take priority over the well-being of you or your baby. Easier said than done when unachievable beauty standards are being thrown at you everywhere you look, right? Like I said before, you’re not alone! We all have to constantly fight against unacceptable beauty standards. We’re in this together! 

A Reality Check

Society has set such a high standard for postpartum bodies that it is entirely unachievable. Dr. Stefani Reinold, a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in perinatal mental health and eating disorders, indicates that “‘getting your body back’ is not attainable for 95% of women” Social media, celebrities who don’t admit to having cosmetic procedures done, and a male-dominated society all set women up to fail when it comes to body image. 

Reinfold acknowledges that “Society is very stereotypical, believing that whole purpose of postpartum should be to get your body back, and we miss the boat in our opportunity to nurture the mother in this amazing journey she just took.” We celebrate pregnant women and tell them to encourage their bodies as they carry a child. Yet, once a Mom gives birth it is as if they no longer have the “excuse” of being pregnant and immediately need to redshift their focus to their physical appearance. 

It’s time to flourish in our new role and love the journey our minds, bodies, and souls have been on. Society has held women to unrealistic standards, reinforced by falsehoods, for far too long. Let’s embrace our postpartum bodies and not give into Bounce Back Culture!

Daily Affirmations

Ash Luna is a Chicago-based photographer, writer, parent, and founder of 4th Trimester Bodies Project. They wrote an insightful article calling out Bounce Back Culture titled “Why Do We Have To ‘Bounce Back’ After Pregnancy? and within the article are some final words that we want to leave you with. We’re adding these to our daily affirmations to guide us on our own journey to self-love:

“There is nothing wrong with moving your body in ways that feel good to you.

There is nothing wrong with eating foods that help you to feel good.

There is nothing wrong with choosing to shift your body weight within another range that is suitable for your body because you want or need to.

There is nothing wrong with continuing to exist just as you are today and tomorrow.”