Just 12 days after giving birth to her second son with her fiance, Ariel, South African treasure, Victoria's Secret model and all-around sunshine person Candice Swanepoel posted a series of Instagram Stories in response to being body shamed online.
Posting an Insta Story of her wearing a bikini on the beach soon after giving birth, she wrote, "This is me 12 days after having my son. If you have something bad to say about it… check yourself. Society can be so cruel to one another. Beauty standards are sometimes impossible for women these days. I'm not ashamed to show my post-partum tummy. I am proud actually… I carried my son for 9 months in there. I think I've earned the right to have a little tummy.
Image: Screengrab @angelcandices
"Is it because I'm a model? Well we are normal people too, so let me enjoy the beach in peace please."
She added another image a while later, that was just as powerful. This was read, "I don't have to hide my stomach just because people have unrealistic standards of women. We create life… what can you do? Ladies are all in this together. Be kind to each other."
Image: Screengrab @angelcandices
The Insta Story was reposted by many, including a series of South African models and influencers like Ansolet Rossouw and Brandslut in solidarity with Candice.
Thumbs up, hearts, and YAAAAS girl.
Parent24 recently discussed the controversy which surrounded Chrissy Teigen and how she fought back against those mommy-shamers who judged how she held her kids, showed herself breastfeeding her new baba on Instagram, and the list goes on.
In 1997, supermodel Tyra Banks told body shamers to "Kiss my fat ass" on The Tyra Banks Show after being shamed by the tabloids who published paparazzi snaps of her in a one piece at the beach. E! Online reported that the tabloids called her a series of awful names, including "Thigh-ra Banks," "America's Next Top Waddle" and "Tyra Porkchops."
In 2013, former DA Parliamentary Leader Lindiwe Mazibuko was body shamed online. Vanguard says she responded, saying “I’ve experienced sexism of every different kind, from comments about my hair and my clothes to my body, to my age, to my stature… But it’s depressing to be in a parliament that has so many female members willing to condone their male counterparts resorting to sexism and ageism and all kinds of other divisive tactics simply to score political points. It’s a real feature of the patriarchal nature of South African society mirrored in our parliamentary debate.”
And earlier this year, model Nina Agdal spoke out against being rejected by magazines, and fat-shamed for not being the body type that's right for "their market:
Today, I’m disappointed and appalled at the still very harsh reality of this industry. A few months ago, I agreed to shoot with a creative team I believed in and was excited to collaborate with. When my agent received an unapologetic email concluding they would not run my cover/story because it “did not reflect well on my talent” and “did not fit their market,” the publisher claimed my look deviated from my portfolio and that I did not fit into the (sample size) samples, which is completely false. If anyone has any interest in me, they know I am not an average model body - I have an athletic build and healthy curves. After a tough year of taking a step back from the insensitive and unrealistic pressures of this industry and dealing with paralyzing social anxiety, I walked into that shoot as a 25 year old WOMAN feeling more comfortable in my own skin and healthier than ever before. Some days I’m a sample size, some days I’m a size 4, some a 6. I am not built as a runway model and have never been stick thin. Now more than ever, I embrace my curves and work diligently in the gym to stay strong and most of all, sane. I am proud to say that my body has evolved from when I started this crazy ride as a 16 year old GIRL with unhealthy and insufficient eating habits. So, shame on you and thank you to the publisher for reaffirming how important it is to live your truth and say it out loud, no matter who you are or what size. I decided to release an image to draw awareness and support of an issue that's bigger than just myself and affects so many people not just in the fashion industry, but in general, with the goal of bringing women from all over together in a celebration of our bodies. Let's find ways to build each other up instead of constantly finding ways to tear each other down. #bodyshaming #bodyimage #selfimage #dietculture #mybodymybusiness
Like Candice said in her post, "Is it because I'm a model? Well we are normal people too, so let me enjoy the beach in peace please." Models, celebrities and those in the public sphere (who are women) are held to an impossible standard. The standard is unnatural, as it expects women to never age, never gain weight and never show any signs of motherhood.
I would agree with Mazibuko that it's not just models, or actresses or politicians that are held to this standard, but rather all women because of the patriarchal nature of a South African and global society that is merely mirrored online and via tabloids.