In a time when a double-tap on an Instagram post can make or break your confidence, shaming is an all-too common practice. And when you're a new mom, hormones, emotions and overall self-image is a daily struggle, so when someone says or does something hurtful, it can be that much more long-lasting. Inspired to make a difference and shed light on the cruel things we say to one another, the photographer and author of The Honest Body Project, Natalie McCain, is back with a new photo series illustrating the importance of choosing kindness.
"Everyone is so quick to judge others...we never know what someone has gone through and to judge them is wrong," McCain told Parents.com. She added that the women she photographed for the series shared stories about everything from body-shaming to feedback on their parenting choices. "I wanted to create a series that would hopefully open people's eyes about judging others and [cause them to] stop and think before they do so."
By interviewing a wide variety of women, she's captured some unique stories and powerful images that, hopefully, will remind all of us to think before we speak.
"The worst experience I have had was talking to a boss' client about this new place her family was opening for a wedding venue. She showed me photos and told me all about it. She said they were going to be opening soon. Which was perfect because I was not getting married for another year. After she left I told my boss to ask her about the place. My boss told me that her family will not let same-sex marriages happen at their venue. I wanted to cry and I was so angry. I understood where she was coming from. If that is what you believe in, that is fine. But it was like a stab in the heart. Knowing that I could not enjoy this beautiful new place that was just what I wanted, because I was gay."
"Some people ask, 'but don't you think he needs a sibling? What if he gets bored or lonely?' Again, every family is different. Every situation is different. My boy will be just fine. He is loved beyond belief. He has cousins. He will have classmates. He will have friends. My husband and I won't have to struggle nearly as much to pay for tumble class, or daycare, or soccer camp, or whatever it is that he excels at in the future because we will be able to nurture his talents and gifts fully, without sacrificing this or that. Financial stability is important for my family. Being a family of three secures that for us. In addition to that, I enjoy having clean countertops no longer cluttered with bottles and nipples. I enjoy not having to sterilize EVERYTHING. I enjoy sleeping through the night again and feeling well rested. I love that I no longer have to mix formula. I appreciate the fact that I no longer have to struggle with breastfeeding and feeling guilty because I can't. I don't miss crying every day. I don't miss these things. I don't want to go through it again. I adore my son. I cherished that first year, but I feel no need or longing to go through it again. I understand other parents love having bigger families and have that longing for more children. That's a beautiful thing. Big families are fun and beautiful. So are small ones. So, please stop asking, 'When are you going to have another one?' Maybe instead ask, 'Do you plan on having more?' And be understanding of the answer."
"I am a gregarious, smart, and funny person. I also have a really big butt. I didn't know I had a really big butt until I was in the fifth grade, and that's when several other girls made sure they told me I had a big butt; every day, several times a day, as meanly as possible. They called me Ducky Butt and Bubble Butt, (which I hate to this day) and said I walked very suggestively to get the boys' attention. (Mind you, as a 10-year-old, I thought boys were gross, and couldn't understand why they would say this.) They would follow me down the halls at school, jeering at me, and terrorize me in the bathrooms to the point where I wouldn't go to the bathroom at school at all. None of the teachers or school staff did anything to stop them. I don't remember these girls' names, and I barely remember what that first ring leader looked like; an unremarkable girl, tall for her age. I mostly remember the ridicule, and wondering what I had done to deserve it. And our family moved a few times as my dad's job changed, so I attended three grade schools, one middle school, and two high schools, from Florida, to North Carolina, to Tennessee, and back to Florida. And in every school, I was ridiculed for my big butt."
"When I am pregnant I am told, 'Oh you're so tiny!' in the beginning, and later come the 'Wow! You are really big! Are you sure it isn't twins in there?!' (I know I'm not the only one that's heard that.) I get the impression that people even have a skewed perception of what a pregnant body looks like and that those come in all shapes and sizes just like every other body. We really need to get this one-size-fits-all, faux, airbrushed, photoshopped body out of our heads and start seeing the real beauty that exist in all of us. And in the meantime it would be so nice if people would just learn to keep their comments about other people's bodies and the way they look to themselves."
"Giving birth to my son was a pivotal turning point into a whole new world of body-shaming. Pregnancy gifted my body with a 52-pound weight gain along with deflated, saggy breasts that I often equate to flapjacks, and a serious chip on my shoulders about not staying dedicated to health and fitness during pregnancy. I was stuck in this world of comparison. I compared my weight to other women's weights. I compared what I ate and even the vitamins I took to other pregnant women. After having my son, I struggled with breastfeeding, and the bashing I gave myself emotionally and mentally was nothing short of sickening. Then, the shock of seeing my post-pregnancy body hit. Let's just say it did not just 'bounce back.' The body-shaming peaked right around this time. After battling post-partum depression and breastfeeding struggles, I saw that my perky boobs were gone, and the skin surrounding my abdomen would never recover fully which lead to my, 'screw this, you're going to eat and just wreck your body,' mentality. My body was already too far gone anyway, right?! So, I ate and ate and ate some more. Not having even made it back to pre-pregnancy weight to start with, I found myself almost back to the same weight I was nine months into my pregnancy. Everyone around me had done it. They had birthed children and seemed to easily return to pre-pregnancy weight. I was the only one who wasn't motivated enough to follow through, so I deserved to be fat. I woke up every day and looked in the full-length mirror disgusted. I was in this world where no one could say I was beautiful, and I truly believe them, not even my husband. All those kind words were basically said to shut me up and stop the constant self-deprecation. How could I believe them?! No one in his/her right mind would utter the word 'beautiful' and associate it with me. Even after recently losing 25 pounds (with about 25 to go), I still cannot see a beautiful woman in the mirror, but I never struggle finding the beauty in other women and often am envious of it; often saying that all women are amazing and should be appreciated and respected no matter their sizes or shapes.”