I was first pulled into Arielle Charnas’s perfectly curated world when her Instagram account, @somethingnavy, appeared in my explore feed back in early 2016. The fashion blogger and designer was 8 months pregnant with her first daughter, Ruby Lou. In this particular post, she was posed in front of a wall wearing sneakers, leggings, and a coat (all black), with a caption acknowledging her athleisure style.
"Pretty much the only thing that fits me right now are leggings, and the only thing I'm comfortable walking more than a block in are sneakers," she wrote.
I’m one of @somethingnavy's late followers—by the time I scrolled through her insta-famous account, she already had tens of thousands of people liking her pictures and close to one million followers watching and coveting her every move in the fashion world. Her blog, somethingnavy.com, and her clothing partnership with Nordstrom, made her a household name among trendy young women looking to emulate Arielle's style. But I started following her when her brand, well, entire life, was about to take a major shift. She was about to become a first-time mom and her #ootd (outfit of the day) posts would soon feature one priceless accessory: a newborn.
“At first I was nervous that posting about my baby would push some girls away," Charnas, now 30, told Parents.com. "They might not be interested in babies and married life but my followers have become obsessed with my story and it's something for them to look forward to next in life. Being able to build careers on your own and being strong women–that’s the message of my brand."
The lifestyle she is choosing to reveal is of a mom, just like every other, striving to keep her daughter happy and be as real as she can about how rewarding, yet difficult, motherhood can be. This level of realness is unique for fashion influencers, known to appear perfectly tanned, toned, and dressed in every photo. But perfection took on a new meaning for Charnas: Perfection has nothing to do with getting it right all the time, or even ever. It now means being super-honest and sharing the behind-the-scenes story even when she posts a cutesy picture or video of Ruby. One post, in particular, stood out to me. It's a Nest Cam video of Ruby kissing mommy goodnight. While the video is adorable (of course), her caption is what impressed me.
Charnas said she shares these moments because hearing other moms' experiences is so helpful to her and makes her feel less alone. She wanted to give this same feeling to her followers. "Pictures can come up like everything is perfect and, of course, if my daughter is screaming I will not be filming because I need to handle the situation, but I don’t want the sweet moments to appear that it's all I deal with as a mother," she said. "Hard moments happen before that. It's about being myself and being open and sharing the stories with other girls to connect everyone. A lot of women read the posts and thank me because they felt like that today and felt like the worst mother. It makes everyone feel like they are not in it alone."
And Charnas is about to have double the real mom moments to share as she expects baby #2 any day now. To her delight, it's another girl. "Two girls is a dream come true," she said. "I don’t wanna say I was hoping for a girl, but I was hoping for a girl. If I have a third I won't care, but it was such a dream of mine to have sisters because I couldn’t imagine life without mine. The best gift my mom gave to us was each other. I want to be like 'you're welcome' to Ruby, but she doesn't understand yet."
Charnas is definitely thanking her own mom, who she calls her role model. "She is the best mother in the entire world and my mother-in-law—they are such different kinds of mothers but both so incredible and so supportive and strong women. I hope my daughters grow up to feel the same way I feel about my mom and my husband feels about his mom."
For those wondering, she doesn't plan on taking a real maternity leave when baby #2 arrives—because documenting her life 24/7 is her full-time job. Even without a break from posting, she is excited to jump into momming a newborn with a bit more experience this time around. Even though she's a vet mom, she's nervous about a few firsts with the new baby, like figuring out a sleep schedule, introducing her to Ruby and seeing how that relationship is going to work at first, and helping her through her first fever. (She's thankful she knows to have Tylenol in her house this time around—the brand is one of her sponsors, but let's be real, like most moms she'd rely on it even if it wasn't.)
On top of starting a new adventure as a mom-of-two, Charnas just moved into her own office space, explaining that her work-from-home lifestyle wasn't going to fly with two kids at home. "It's actually a very difficult transition for me, but the best thing is that I can put 100% into my work and focus on work when I'm there. I felt like it was important to find a space outside of my home to work—I didn’t want everyone in the apartment every day with a newborn there." She is also excited to have her daughters grow up understanding that daddy AND mommy work. "It's an important message for sure and I would never want to give it up," she said. "A lot of women stop working, my mother quit her job when she had kids and she always said she wishes she didn’t. Now that we are grown up she misses having that thing for herself–even if it's just a hobby and not work."
This is great news to me, as a SomethingNavy follower who won't have to give up watching Arielle's life unfold. Thank you, Arielle, for keeping motherhood real and unfiltered (well, the captions at least), and letting us all come along for the ride.