Gina Mei
Updated Apr 15, 2015 @ 12:19 pm
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While pregnant with her sixth child earlier this year, blogger January Harshe began to notice that the #postpartum hashtag on Instagram was filled with new mom product gimmicks, harassment, and just a whole bunch of negativity. Tired of feeling shamed for her body, she decided to reclaim it.

In an empowering post on her blog, Harshe called for new moms to “take back postpartum” on social media — and the results have been absolutely wonderful.

“Moms comes in all shapes, sizes, and fitness levels. We are all on our own journey and progressing and working through our crazy, tired, postpartum, motherhood lives the best we can at any given time,” she wrote in the post. “This is not about comparing. This is about becoming united.”

“We do not need to be told we are not good enough,” she continued. “What we need is love, grace, friendship, and support.”

Harshe proposed that all moms work together to combat what the #postpartum hashtag had become, and to help create a new one: #takebackpostpartum. A quick scroll through the tag (which has almost 8,000 posts) proves just how diverse and beautiful our experiences with motherhood can be, which is an essential shift in the conversation. All too often, new moms are pressured to erase any signs of motherhood from their bodies as quickly as possible. It’s a ridiculous practice, and it feeds into the idea that women are only valuable for how we look, not for who we are and what we can do. Rather than focus on getting postpartum bodies back to a narrow definition of “ideal,” we should be celebrating how incredible those bodies are for the little human they just created.

To help document the movement, Harshe started the @TakeBackPostPartum Instagram — which already has 15.7k followers, and proves just how much we need positive, diverse representation of postpartum women more than ever.

“By showing variations of ‘normal’ in not only pregnancy and birth, but postpartum and motherhood, we can be more accepting of ourselves and each other,” Harshe told The Huffington Post. “Life and motherhood are hard even when blessed. We need support not shaming.”

The focus for new moms shouldn’t be on the superficial, but on taking care of themselves and their baby — and #takebackpostpartum is a wonderful reminder of that. And so far, the movement definitely seems to be working.

“I never thought I was pretty. I never thought that my body was perfect,” Britney Asbell, blogger behind Yo Average Mama, told TODAY. “I kept seeing the #takebackpostpartum hashtags and I thought, ‘Wow, these women are so brave to put it all out there.’ I didn’t think I could ever do that”

But then she realized if they could, then why couldn’t she? Along with a ridiculously moving caption in which she recalled her pregnancy and talked about how grateful she was for her daughter, Asbell posted a picture of her postpartum body to Instagram — and it was immediately met with nothing but support.

“I said, ‘You know what? I feel good. I’m not perfect and that’s OK,'” she continued.

While #takebackpostpartum is (of course) meant for moms, we think it’s an equally empowering reminder of self-love for all women. The hashtag encourages us to support one another and to be kind always, both to others and ourselves — and we couldn’t think of a more positive message.

“I used to see the world through the mind of a ‘fat’ woman. I realized as I shared my journey of self acceptance, that all women struggle,” Harshe continued to The Huffington Post. “‘Fat’ is no longer a shameful word to me. I am simply me. A woman, a mother, beautiful. My hope is that by women changing how they feel about themselves they will be more loving not just to themselves, but to other women as well. We are more powerful and amazing than we realize.”

Check out the Instagram for more posts here!

(Images via @TakeBackPostPartum)