Sia is a personal trainer, a fitness guru, an influencer, and a mom. She has over one million followers on Instagram at @diaryofafitmommyofficial, where she shares selfies and meal pics and gives us insight into her life. And she was recently mom-shamed for sharing a photo of herself wearing a bikini.
The photo, posted on November 4, shows Sia in a swimsuit looking out at the ocean. "I remember when this photo was taken of me back in June in the Bahamas," her caption reads. "I didn't share it because I was so worried about my cellulite! I'm sharing it now because I want you ladies to feel empowered and to own your bodies. you are more than your dimples. Wear the damn swimsuit because life is too short! I love you all."
It's a positive message, a vulnerable post about loving your body even when you're insecure about it. And while most of the comments were supportive, the mom-shamers also came out in full force. "To show your gains you don't have to show your behind like that," one commenter wrote, "you are a mother, think about what your children see your behind in your posts in the future, unfollowed."
First of all, who is anyone to judge how someone else parents, especially in such a public forum? The phenomenon of "mom-shaming" is a pervasive and harmful one. Sia is a personal trainer and an influencer. Sharing her story and her body is part of her job. Not to mention, in that photo, she's promoting a healthy relationship with one's body! That comment is undermining everything she's trying to preach.
In an interview with DIstractify, Sia said mom-shaming is something she deals with regularly. "I’ve been shamed for having tattoos as a mom and working out 'too much'" and even for "using canned goods in a recipe." She says, "Social media allows mom-shaming to happen more frequently because people type words they normally wouldn’t say in person."
Sia responded to the shamer with her own powerful post that has since gone completely viral. "Since when were moms supposed to hide their bodies?" she asks. "Since when were bothers no longer allowed to feel sexy? How do you think babies even got here in the first place? [The mom-shamer] went on to say that I should think about what my kids will think of my behind someday. You know what? I want my kids to see a mother who's body positive. I want my kids to see a mother who's confident in her own skin."
There's an inaccurate and destructive notion that when women become mothers, they cease to be women. A mother still has a body, and she should be able to do what she wants with it. In fact, Sia points out, that when mothers are ashamed of their bodies, their kids notice that, and they suffer because of it.
"If we don’t teach body positivity to our kids, they can grow up to [hate] their bodies due to society’s awful opinions of the 'ideal' body and how we should look, dress, and act," Sia told us. "I had a mother growing up who always stepped on the scale and nitpicked her body apart. She eventually started pointing out my own weight gain and I suffered many issues as a teen including poor body image and eating disorders. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I felt comfortable wearing shorts in public."
In her Instagram post, she writes, "I would've given anything to have a body-positive mama and I make sure that my kids see and feel this positivity every day — not just with looks but with it all."
So many people grew up with mothers who were ashamed of their bodies. For so long, women's bodies have been held to an unrealistic standard that has resulted in widespread issues of self-acceptance and body confidence. It's amazing that Sia is out there showing her children that you should love every aspect of yourself unconditionally, your body included.
Women's bodies are constantly sexualized without our permission, and the idea that moms should "cover up" or dress "modestly" is just another tool of misogyny. "I'm pretty sure a male in a Speedo wouldn't get the same comment I did," Sia says. "Why should women be forced to cover up after having a baby?"
A woman in a bikini is not an object. She is a person. And she shouldn't have to hide herself away from the world just because she's given birth to children.
"Sometimes, all a mother needs is to truly FEEL herself," Sia writes on Instagram. "Let's face it: motherhood can make use feel less than sexy. It leaves us drained, depressed, exhausted, and staring into a mirror, looking at a former shell of ourselves that we barely recognize anymore. And don't get me started on our postpartum bodies... It can be harder to celebrate our bodies when they're covered with stretch marks and loose skin."
"So mamas, put on your bikinis. You've earned it. Every woman deserves to feel comfortable in her own skin without society's judgy opinions. Let the mom-judging stop. Motherhood is already tough as it is. We are damned if we do, damned if we don't, so stay true to yourself."
For Sia, receiving this comment was a chance to take something negative and turn it into something positive. "Many women are told on a daily basis how they should look, feel, act, and dress," she says. "I even had one response from a lady on my post that she was told, as a pregnant woman, that she needed to cover up. Also, there was another woman who said she was told to cover up because she was 'old' at the age of 45. I speak for all women with my message — not just moms. I want to inspire moms to rock that bikini and be self confident no matter what people may say."