Being a breastfeeding mom is hard enough. The sore nipples, endless feedings, sleepless nights, and feeling that your body will never be yours again. While most of these things get easier in time, the criticism breastfeeding moms so often receive can be the most challenging. Sometimes, it can downright suck.
Celebrities aren’t immune from this kind of judgment either. Jade Roper Tolbert, former Bachelor in Paradise star and mommy to 5-month-old Emerson, recently felt the heat over some of her breastfeeding choices — and she’s fighting back.
It all started last week when Tolbert shared a gorgeous photo of herself on Instagram looking down at her happy, satisfied daughter right after nursing in paid partnership with ThirdLove.
Yeah, the photo looks to be somewhat posed. (I mean, she’s trying to sell the bra, right?) And sure, Tolbert looks a whole lot more put together than I usually was after a long day of nursing and mothering my little ones. But who cares, really?
Well, apparently lots of Instagram users did.
Tolbert received a ton of negative comments about the photo, with users accusing her of not presenting a real portrait of motherhood. They complained that the photo looked too “staged” because she was wearing makeup and looking like a model, rather than a real mom.
Um, hello? She IS a celebrity, and the photo is an ad. Also, WHO CARES? If she has the ability to look fantastic and mother her daughter as she sees fit, what does it matter to anyone else? Her job is not to make us all feel better about our unwashed hair and unmade faces (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Tolbert took to Instagram this past Monday to respond to the whole debacle in her Instagram Story. While it may have only lasted 24 hours on the site, her sentiments continue to ring true days later.
“I had some comments about the picture I posted of me and Emerson after I was breastfeeding and people telling me they don’t look like that when they breastfeed and that I was setting up a standard that was impossible to live up to,” explained the mom.
She then tried to put the whole incident in context so her fans would understand not only what the intent and circumstances of the photo were, but how this was not what a typical day with a newborn looks like — even for her.
“The truth about that picture is I had a photo shoot the day before and I hadn’t taken my makeup off, so that’s literally the day before’s makeup,” Tolbert shared. “And it was slightly staged — we positioned Emerson just right to make the picture [work], but that was literally right after I had fed her and she had fallen asleep on me and we do have those moments where we snuggle, so I don’t get what’s so unreal about it.”
Seriously. Aside from the makeup and perfectly positioned boobs, she looks like any happy, sleepy, proud breastfeeding mama.
“If you guys feel like I’m portraying some kind of falsehood of motherhood, this is my real life,” she said. “This is me on a Monday morning. I’ve already used my shirt as a spit-up rag. I have clothes everywhere that have not been washed.”
Tolbert also took a minute to address another “controversial” photo she’d shared on Instagram (that she has since removed) where she is nursing her daughter at restaurant under a cover.
“Yesterday, I posted a picture of me breastfeeding at the table in a restaurant because it was the first time I had actually done it,” Tolbert said. “I have always gone into the bathroom to breastfeed because I felt like I couldn’t do it in public.”
And while we might not all make that same choice when it comes to breastfeeding in public, apparently we all are supposed to dig into anyone who doesn’t make the same exact same choices we do as a mother.
“People were telling me that I shouldn’t cover up and I was actually getting flack for putting a cover over my baby, which I just don’t understand,” the new mom said. “Why that would be something people would give me s— about?”
I wish I knew; I really do. It seems that whatever we moms do, we just can’t win. I, personally, was never one to cover up while breastfeeding, but that was because I was comfortable with that. I would never criticize another mom who felt differently. Her body, her choice.
Thankfully, Tolbert’s message is getting good reception, with many fans reassuring her that she didn’t do anything wrong by sharing her personal reality and experience with motherhood.
The new mom took to Instagram again yesterday to thank her fans for the outpouring of love she received.
The new mom then posted a pic herself and Emmy from a few months ago, along with a message of gratitude to those who supported her amidst all the negativity she received earlier this week.
The mom explained that the comments had been so triggering for her, as she enjoys breastfeeding her daughter. “I was very emotional earlier and I think it’s because my nursing relationship with Emmy is one of my most favorite mommy experiences,” she shared. “Thank you for letting me be myself and express how much I love being a mom and thank you for letting me express myself when I feel like I’m failing as a mom (or failing others) or I feel unsure of myself,” she says as she ends her heartfelt post.
That’s what it’s all about, really.
The way you breastfeed or parent your child may look different than how I do it, but that’s OK. We’re all just trying to get through our days the best we can.