May 14, 2019
In spring 2018, four moms who didn't happen to know one another previously connected online. As social media influencers, they were joining forces to spread a powerful message about maternal mental health. Last month, the fast friends met for the first time in person at a conference in Texas. The women knew that one of the first things they'd have to do together was take a beautiful, body positive group photo.
Meg Boggs tells Parents.com that she first connected with Desiree Fortin through one of her body image posts. "We immediately began talking about motherhood and mental health through DMs," Boggs explains. "She mentioned a mental health project she was working on and asked me to be part of it, which connected me to Katie [Crenshaw] and Bethanie [Garcia]. I quickly realized how much we each had in common when it came to our body image issues, our mental health, and just the everyday motherhood struggles."
Over the next year, they collaborated on several social media projects centered on these topics. One was the the viral hashtag campaign #IAm1in5, which was initiated by Fortin, who battled postpartum depression after giving birth to her triplets. Another was #This_Is_Postpartum, which was meant to "showcase how postpartum looks different for every single woman," explains Garcia.
After months of working together remotely and chatting every day via text, the foursome made plans to finally meet in person. "When we all decided to attend a popular conference for moms who are digital marketers/bloggers, we immediately planned on meeting up for the first time to snap a photo," Boggs shares. "We wanted it to be one that would resonate with a lot of women who have experienced the same self-image struggles we have."
The images the women took together have since gone viral, making headlines nationwide and wracking up thousands of likes and comments on social media.
Garcia explains that their motivation for taking the stunning shots was simple: "So many women are craving real bodies and real life, not PhotoShopped fairy tales," she tells Parents.com. "I know I was for the longest time, and that’s what inspired me to start sharing photos about body positivity. Our hope in taking the photo was that it would reach women who didn’t feel that their body types were represented in media. If it helped even one woman, we would be grateful and happy. And it did. So many women have commented saying, 'Wow, I finally feel represented.' And 'because of this photo, I’m starting my journey to self-love.' To me, that means everything."
The friends posted the photos on their Instagram accounts in late April, and they were quickly inundated with heartfelt messages. "I'm saving all the screenshots of positivity in my inbox," Crenshaw shares. "But the most impactful to me have been a few messages from women in their late 50s and 60s who have been inspired by us to finally accept themselves after a lifetime of self-image destruction."
Boggs notes that on Mother's Day, she received a flood of photos of moms with their kids. "[The moms] said it was the first time they had ever had the courage to get in the photo, instead of staying behind the camera," she explains. "They refused to take photos for the longest time and really didn’t have photos of themselves with their kids. But they felt inspired and encouraged to finally take that step in loving themselves enough to document a moment of their life that they want their kids to be able to see one day."
Responses like these are proof that these influential moms' powerful message is getting through. With hope, their photo will continue to inspire moms everywhere to celebrate themselves and their postpartum bodies.
"All of our journeys are so different and unique," Boggs says. "Every body deserves to be loved, supported, and celebrated. And it’s never too late for your self-love journey to begin."