In a recent Instagram post, actress Blake Lively wrote that she had a hard time fitting into designer clothing after giving birth to her third child, daughter Betty, in October of 2019. But in her message, she put this issue into perspective with a reflection on motherhood. She noted, in part (emphasis added):
No one had samples that fit me after giving birth. And so many clothes from stores didn’t fit either. So. Many. It doesn’t send a great message to women when their bodies don’t fit into what brands have to offer. It’s alienating and confusing. And I wish I felt as confident [then], as I do now, a year later looking back.
That body gave me a baby. And was producing that baby’s entire food supply. What a beautiful miracle. But instead of feeling proud, I felt insecure. Simply because I didn’t fit into clothes. How silly is that in retrospect.
Lively is right about the need for brands to make clothes that fit women who are all shapes and sizes, especially during the challenging postpartum period when their hormones and bodies are constantly adjusting and changing.
She’s also right to celebrate the “miracles” of childbearing and lactation. Women possess in their bodies the ability to co-create and then carry new life, and even to nutritionally sustain that life outside the womb. Far from being a liability, the capacity to shelter, grow, and nourish a human being is remarkable. The physical changes that the woman’s body undergoes, including the adaptation of her own immune system to allow a genetically and immunologically separate creature to co-exist within her, are perhaps the most obvious evidence of her capacity for ‘the other.’ And yet, beyond the physical changes she experiences, childbearing and childrearing affect a woman’s heart and soul. Long after she protects her preborn child inside her body, giving him or her space and nutrition to grow, she continues to nurture her child’s mind, body, and soul. The Shout Your Motherhood campaign was created to celebrate these very realities.
Lively is one of a number of famous women who are leaning into both motherhood and their professional careers, seeing the two synergistically, rather than as mutually exclusive. From politicians to Olympic athletes to musicians to actresses, these women in the public eye are communicating clearly their desire for motherhood and professional success. They grasp, as women have throughout history, that children do not impoverish their mothers’ lives — they enrich them. Children remind their parents about what’s important in life and can inspire their parents to reach their fullest potential.
This is true for every woman, not just those who have wealth and fame. Pro-lifers have long understood that all mothers — regardless of economic class, living situation, or other circumstance — deserve tangible support as they bear and raise their children, and they’ve consistently sought to fill in the gaps. Often, this assistance takes place at the local level, through the help of pregnancy resources centers, meal trains for moms of newborns, social media posts helping to fulfill baby registries for moms in need, and more. Some churches and community organizations offer support groups for moms on an ongoing basis. When we support women in these ways and more, we empower them to lean into the “beautiful miracle” of motherhood.
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