'My body doesn't need to be changed. It needs to be valued'

<i></i>
 Photo: Facebook

There aren't many of us that feel awesome in our own skin just a couple of weeks after giving birth. You're generally sleep deprived, heavier than you were before the pregnancy, sagging in some new and weird places, leaking all over the place, and generally feeling pretty wiped out.

You've just had a baby and your world has changed, which can leave you particularly vulnerable to feeling less than awesome about yourself.

That's where opportunistic sales people can come in, preying on your feelings to sell you stuff you don't need. But in this instance, they picked the wrong new mum.

US mum of three Kelly Diane Howland was out shopping with her two-and-a-half week old daughter when a woman approached her, asking questions about her baby.

That's pretty standard, right? Walking around with a newborn makes you a stranger magnet, and mostly it's charming conversation about how gorgeous they are. So Kelly didn't suspect anything until the woman dropped the big question: had she ever heard of this particular skincare and nutrition company that offers everything from cleanses to shakes to active wear?

That's when Kelly realised she was being targeted because she was a new mum, and she was vulnerable to feeling less than awesome about her body.

"Let's not pretend that approaching me specifically was a coincidence," Kelly wrote on her Facebook page. "Because it's not like she ran up to every female at Target to hand out her card. But she did come to me – with my baby billboard of being brand new postpartum. We all know that this culture hammers into postpartum women a lot of physical insecurity about their bodies after delivering their miracles from their wombs. I don't think I have to spell out for a single woman the cultural pressure that postpartum mothers face regarding their physical appearance. We know. We all know. She knew. And that's why she approached me."

Since snapping a selfie with the card she was given by the woman, and sharing hew views, Kelly's post has been shared over 15,000 times, and she has been inundated with messages from women who have had similar experiences.

"I have so many message requests in my Facebook messenger folders of women who are privately writing to me to tell me their stories of feeling insecure, of being made to not feel good enough, of feeling pressure or being approached by people with ideas that they should change, or improve themselves, or could be better than they are currently," she told Babble.

Kelly was careful to point out that it wasn't the company or the saleswoman that is the problem. It's the overarching message that our culture values women who look a certain way, and that women who don't strive to achieve this are failures.

That's a message we've all been aware of, especially after giving birth.

"Motherhood is amazing and the female body's ability to carry and birth babies is incredible and yet our culture is somehow obsessed with trying to erase any evidence of that on our frame and when I sat and pondered that…I was baffled," she told Babble. "It didn't make sense. It practically seemed absurd. I decided I no longer bought into that. These days I really love my body and try to honour and cherish her for all she does for me on a daily basis, even if she isn't perfect."

If we can all manage to do that, companies like the one that targeted Kelly will be out of business, and we'll all be a whole lot happier.