Princess Love and the toxic pressure of the snapback
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“Why is her belly so big?”

“Is she still pregnant?”

“It doesn’t take that long for a belly to go down.”

“I’m not tryna be rude, but this is freaking me out. She still looks pregnant.”

These are real comments from real social media users sharing their disapproval of Princess Love’s post-baby belly. These words are body-shaming, disheartening, and, yes, they are rude.

The reality TV star, 33, and hubby Ray J, 37, welcomed a new addition to their family on May 23. The couple later released photos of their newborn daughter Melody Love Norwood.

Princess Love and Ray J pose with their one-week old daughter Melody Love Norwood in their new Beverly Hills condo on May 30. Photo: Jeff Rayner/Coleman-Rayner

But strange criticism about Love’s stomach muddied the family’s precious moment. People, especially women, seemed confused about why her stomach was “too big.” I didn’t find anything wrong with the size of it. Instead, I saw photos featuring a fresh-faced new mother, a glowing baby girl and an overjoyed father — one who still had his hospital band on in the photos, by the way.

No, Love’s stomach wasn’t flat. Why would it be? She had just had a baby. No, she wasn’t “still pregnant.” No, her gut wasn’t “too big.” We don’t get to decide what’s a suitable appearance for a woman’s post-birth body, and that’s the problem with snapback culture.

Snapping back is when a woman’s body returns to it’s pre-baby state right after delivering a child, and we praise this rarity.

We shouldn’t.

Be happy for women who can achieve this, sure, but don’t shame those who don’t. The snapback places unrealistic pressure on women already coping with pregnancy’s extraordinary changes. That thing about every body being different is true. Each pregnancy is unique, and it does things to your body that are amazing and scary and beautiful. It’s unfair to set rigid expectations on women (PERIOD) grappling with motherhood. Having a baby is enough on its own.

If you want to maintain an exercise regimen during pregnancy, go ahead. If you want to work out after having a baby, do you thing, girl! If that’s not your cup of tea, do you. If you have stretch marks or discover things sagging on your body you never knew could, embrace it. If those things bother you and you can change them, change them. If it takes you more time to get your pre-baby weight, shape or stomach in order, then so be it. You just grew a whole human, and worrying about how your body looks after bringing a baby into this world is strain you don’t need. But when you see photo galleries of 2017’s Best Snapbacks or the Yaaaasssss-girl approval, it can be tough. Don’t let it distract you from what’s important: your baby, your health and your comfort. It typically takes 10 months to a year to feel like yourself again after having a baby. That time is valuable. Cherish getting to know your baby and accepting the temple that delivered him or her safely.

I commend Princess Love for showing us a necessary glimpse of raw, unpolished and unfiltered motherhood.

Snapbacks may very well inspire you, but we shouldn’t aspire to achieve untimely body goals. It’s also refreshing to see the rise of promoting positive body images among mothers in all shapes and sizes. If you’re into online communities, join those that highlight acceptance, love and beauty in all forms.