As soon as a celebrity has a baby, the “post-baby body” headlines begin. For some, like Meghan Markle, the headlines start just days after they’ve given birth. We are all constantly bombarded with these stories, and with messages about how postpartum bodies are “supposed” to look: svelte, toned, and stretch-mark free. It’s no surprise that when intimates brand Knix surveyed their customers, they found that 90% of women received comments about their bodies after giving birth, 76% felt pressure to “bounce back,” and 56% experienced postpartum depression.
Knix founder and CEO Joanna Griffiths, who became a new mom in April, decided to change that. She found herself frustrated with all the messaging about diets and workouts while she was struggling with breastfeeding and the other challenges of “the fourth trimester.” She wanted to share a new kind of message with moms: “You are perfect as you, you are supported, and you are seen.”
So Knix teamed up with the doula collective Carriage House Birth, co-founded by Domino Kirke, and the online initiative the Empowered Birth Project, founded by Katie Vigos, to create the Life After Birth Project. This project consists of photos and text from over 250 women celebrating their postpartum bodies. Along with the three founders, those featured include Jemima Kirke, Amy Schumer, Ricki Lake, and Christy Turlington — as well as many user-submitted photos from Knix followers.
"Life After Birth was inspired by my own postpartum experience, and I started planning the project five days after giving birth to my son," Griffith tells Refinery29. "I wanted to create something that celebrated the strength and beauty that is the postpartum experience, that changed the narrative and encouraged postpartum people everywhere to feel seen, acknowledged and supported.”
Some photos show these new moms caring for their babies — breastfeeding them, cuddling them, or using a breast pump — while others show them posing alone, showing their stretch marks, scars, or loose skin. We very rarely see postpartum bodies like this.
Photos from the Life After Birth project are displayed in an exhibit that launched earlier this August in tandem with the release of Knix’s Leakproof Nursing Bra and maternity collection. Beginning in New York, the exhibit will tour nine cities in partnership with women’s co-working space the Riveter, including Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Dallas, Austin, Denver, Minneapolis and Toronto. To share your own photos with the Life After Birth Project, tag @lifeafterbirthproject and use the hashtag #LifeAfterBirth, or email email@example.com.