Do you remember the first time you were on the receiving end of body-shaming? Chances are, you probably don’t, because society has been demanding that women and birthing people hate their bodies since the dawn of time (or at least advertising). Well, mom and influencer Bethanie Garcia isn’t having it. In fact, she’s calling out all the trolls who body-shamed her for sharing a photo where her stomach was visible.
Garcia is a mother to five little ones and runs the Instagram account The Garcia Diaries with her husband, Anthony. Recently, she’s been sharing inspiring photos of her own journey of body acceptance. While many of her followers are supportive (and likely feel seen and validated), many others are…not.
In fact, after sharing a photo of her stomach in a post about how she recently underwent a fallopian tube removal and an endometrial ablation, she received a lot of body-shaming comments about the way her stomach looks.
The post was completely unrelated to her physical appearance but was instead a vulnerable explanation of her health issues and surgeries. AND YET, hundreds (over 800, according to Garcia) of people felt compelled to tell her to get a tummy tuck. Because bodies aren’t allowed to look anything less than perfect, even after birthing five children and enduring physical pain.
In a follow-up post, Garcia called out all the body-shamers. She even cut and pasted some of the nasty comments she received into the post directly, so her followers can see just how cruel people can be.
“When you stumble across 800+ comments of strangers tearing apart your looks, your morals, your ability to parent…all from a picture of your BELLY,” she writes in the caption. “I don’t share what I share on this platform for people to ‘like’ it or to try and shove body positivity down people’s throats. I share because once upon a time, I hated my body so much that I chose to starve it, I shrunk down as small as I could get, lived to workout and eat as little as possible, and STILL hated my body.”
Garcia says she fills her Instagram feed with messages and photos for others who are on the lifelong journey of self-acceptance and self-love, especially those of us who have a hard time liking the way we look. (AKA all of us, basically).
“I share what I share with the hope that someone else who is out there struggling with their body image can see that it’s possible to love yourself and appreciate your body, no matter the shape or size.”
In the post, Garcia says she’s inspired by Sarah Nicole Landry (@thebirdspapaya), another influencer and mother who hopes to fight weight and body stigma for birthing people.
As a “plus-size” mama myself, I look at photos like these and feel two things. First, I feel grateful that women with large platforms are doing this kind of work and introspection and inspiring people to love themselves. But I also feel kind of bummed out, because my body is bigger than Garcia’s and Landry’s, and I see all the criticism they receive just for having…stomachs.
Why are people so afraid to look like me? is something I often wonder. It’s hard, I won’t sugarcoat that. Being made to feel like you’re unworthy of taking up space simply because you aren’t thin is incredibly tough. But knowing there are women out there who proudly take up space makes things a little easier.