There are so many things that collectively, as a society, we should all agree to leave in 2019. Gender-reveal parties, for one. The hideous and unnecessary revival of neon clothing.
And, more significantly, the unproductive and highly gendered shaming of mothers who are just trying to make the parenting choices that work for them.
Canadian actress Shay Mitchell got into a discussion of mom-shaming on a recent episode of Ashley Graham’s podcast and YouTube series “Pretty Big Deal.” Mitchell, a Canadian actress who rose to fame with her role on teen soap opera “Pretty Little Liars,” has been an open book about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting.
“I was so surprised” by the backlash, said. She had seen other celebrity moms get flak for their perceived parenting mistakes, but “for some reason it didn’t click in” that it might also happen to her.
“People were leaving comments like ‘You are the world’s worst mother already,’ and ‘The child needs to be take into child services,’” she told a shocked Graham, who clearly hadn’t realized that the comments were so personal and vicious.
Watch: Shay Mitchell has witty response to breastfeeding shame. Story continues after video.
For one thing, the people judging her were working off of incorrect information, she said. While she didn’t comment publicly about her daughter’s birth until an Instagram post on Oct. 20, the baby was actually born Oct. 8. So while it was assumed she went partying several days after giving birth, it had actually been a couple weeks.
“I kind of spun it around like, This is really flattering that you think I’m superwoman and can go out three days after having my daughter. What, in a diaper, still?” Mitchell said. (She has heroically spoken about wearing a diaper while pregnant before, and similarly feels no shame about wearing a postpartum diaper, too. Icon.)
But no, “it had actually been a couple weeks and it felt like it was the right time,” she continued. “We went out for an hour and a half, and I was back.” She didn’t personally feel that she had to explain her choices to the public, she said, “but it bothered me for the other women and new mothers out there that maybe don’t have the great support system around them to be like, ‘Don’t listen to it.’ That’s what pissed me off.
“How dare you make a new mom, who’s already going through a lot of doubt and guilt when she leaves for the first time, [feel guilty?] That should be something that’s celebrated. You’re living your life, as you did before and as you will continue to with your child.”
The conversation starts around the seven-minute mark in the video below.
Later in the interview, when Graham talks about the help she’s receiving from other parents, Mitchell drops another bombshell that surprised her: most of the hate she received online for having the gall to go to a party after having a baby, as well as the criticism she received for “breastfeeding wrong,” came from other moms.
“A lot of those comments that we spoke about earlier weren’t coming from guys and other people, they were coming from other moms, which was the heartbreaking part of all this,” she said.
Mitchell also told Graham, who is currently pregnant with her first child, about the extremely unpleasant “engorgement” period when a new mom’s milk starts to come in and breasts feel really heavy, “like rocks, like pebbles.”
“I thought when I was done with labour, that was it,” pain-wise, she said. “But the engorgement phase which was like two days, three days for me, was unreal.”
They also talked about birthing plans (Mitchell didn’t have one), the unease they sometimes felt around their changing bodies (Graham said posted an Instagram showcasing her “extra rolls” after a bout of crying), and the profound discomfort they both experienced early in their pregnancies, which Mitchell called “pre-partum depression.” For her, the experience was mired with guilt because she had previously had a miscarriage and didn’t want to feel ungrateful to be having a healthy pregnancy.
And she shed light on how she and partner Matte Babel met: she was 19 and doing bottle service at a mutual friend’s party in Toronto, she said. They dated briefly, but didn’t reconnect until a few years ago, when they were both living in LA.
So: less getting mad at people for making choices different than our own, more radical honesty about motherhood actually looks like. This is the energy we’re bringing into this new year.
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