Influencer Bethanie Garcia is one hot mama.
For her, stretch marks, cellulite and a little bit of sagging are sexy symbols of her strength after the last 11 years of being pregnant, giving birth and breastfeeding.
The mom of five, who boasts 203,000 followers on Instagram, is among a growing contingent of women who aren’t just reluctantly accepting their changed physique post-children — they’re making it downright sexy.
It’s an act of resistance in a culture that’s slowly shedding its unrealistic expectations for mothers and their physical appearance after having kids.
Recently, David Foster came under fire for praising his wife Katherine McPhee’s slender post-baby appearance, commenting on the saucy snap, “what baby?” (McPhee later defended her husband, telling critics to “get a life” and that she lost weight without dieting.)
The backlash was a sign that the days of pushing women to “bounce back” into bikini bods after giving birth are over. Instead, striking images of a woman’s stretch marks and extra skin are now shared just as unapologetically as Leonardo DiCaprio-esque “dad bods” of yore.
“In the beginning, I forced myself to see myself as sexy,” the 27-year-old told The Post. “I’ll look in the mirror and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, you’re hot,’ even though I weigh more than I did in the past or my body sags differently.”
Truthfully, the Arizona native added, she “faked it till she made it.”
But putting herself out there was worth it to correct a stigma that has long plagued the mental health of mothers, she said.
“It’s unfair that this image [of McPhee] is out there making other vulnerable women and first-time moms believe that that’s what they should ‘look like’ at that stage postpartum,” registered dietician and body acceptance advocate Jenna Werner told The Post. “It’s overwhelming, it’s demonizing, it’s fatphobic.”
And just because new moms don’t necessarily look the same as before, doesn’t make them any less hot.
“The way that you previously felt sexy might change, but the reality is that your beautiful body created a human being and grew it,” the New Jersey dietician, 34, said. “I don’t think there’s anything sexier than that.”
Werner and Garcia aren’t the only ones fighting the expectation to “bounce back” postpartum.
Sarah Landry, known to her 2.1 million Instagram followers @thebirdspapaya, is a mother, divorcee (and then remarried), speaker, blogger and influencer who regularly shares motherhood advice and body positive messages.
Along with intimate images of breastfeeding and details about her 50 pound weight gain since meeting her husband, she also encourages mamas to embrace their mom bods, excess skin and all.
Nearly a year after giving birth to her son, Werner said that she “just now” started to feel like herself, adding that she took that time to recover and care for her newborn – and didn’t have time for much else.
“Losing baby weight,” Werner said, is far overshadowed by other parts of the recovery process, like wearing adult diapers or losing hair.
“It’s normal to still look six or seven months pregnant after giving birth,” Maryland dietitian and new mom Deanna Wolfe, 33, told The Post.
“It’s why I did my best to share that raw stage where you’re wearing diapers, your skin is stretched and your hair hasn’t been washed for days,” she said.
Wolfe, who regularly posts on Instagram about her childbirth experience, said she wished that people asked about her mental health instead of her body.
“The most important thing is to see that baby and their growth and their life develop because of you,” Werner said. “You have to give your body some time to recover … It doesn’t necessarily look the same anymore, but it doesn’t make it any less beautiful.”