“There’s no such thing is a ‘mum tum’. It’s just a stomach and it doesn’t need to be covered.”
Last year, not long after her daughter Arna was born, Kayla Itsines received a gift in the post. It was a pair of workout tights and a swimsuit, both high waisted.
“I was initially like, ‘What a nice gift’,” the trainer and founder of the wildly popular SWEAT app said on Instagram.
“AND THEN… I read the note that came with the package saying, ‘These are great for covering your mum tum’. Sigh.”
Kayla is an advocate for body positivity, and always has an empowering, positive message for her followers, whether they’re at the still-eating-chips-on-the-lounge stage of their fitness journey or, like her, have washboard abs.
She wasn’t impressed with the message. “I have nothing against high-waisted anything or full piece swimwear, but not if I’m being told it’s to ‘hide’ a part of a woman’s body,” she wrote.
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“This is not an empowering message”
She gave the sender the benefit of the doubt, suggesting that they didn’t realise the negative message they were promoting.
“Even if the person who sent me those clothes didn’t realise it, telling women they should hide any part of their body is not an empowering message.
“It’s running on the assumption we should be shying away from the way our body looks, especially after pregnancy.”
Kayla’s Instagram is full of workout videos, photos of her wearing outfits from what is surely a massive collection of active wear, and photos of her abs. She’s always positive, always encouraging and always promoting self-love.
“No matter what your body shape or whether you’ve just had a baby, you shouldn’t feel like you need to hide yourself away.
“There’s no such thing as a ‘mum tum’. It’s just a stomach and it doesn’t need to be covered and hidden away because you’ve LITERALLY CREATED AND GIVEN BIRTH TO A HUMAN.”
“Every body is unique and that’s a good thing”
Kayla is concerned with the message the brand was sending, saying that if she’d been a person with low self-esteem, she would have responded with gratitude, thinking she was the one with the problem.
“They could have convinced me that I have something to be ashamed of, and that I am meant to ‘hide’ a part of my body to fit into society… This is just not ok.
“The fact that every single body is unique is a GOOD thing. We should never feel like we have to hide a prat of our body, (especially a stomach that has grown a baby inside it).”
The mum said it ultimately comes down to the message society is giving women, like the woman her little daughter will one day become.
“I want my daughter to grow up in a world where she never feels pressure to look a certain way.”
Read about why one mum wants people to stop telling her to love her body and how Kayla Itsines hit back at trolls criticising her pregnancy workout.
“Would you feel this way if you had bad stretch marks?
Many of Kayla’s followers praised her attitude. The post received nearly 200,000 likes overnight.
“Hell yes! This message is everything!” said one person.
“Yes to this! Women’s bodies are so beautiful and strong!!!” said another.
But others pointed out something many mums who don’t have washboard abs might be thinking.
“Maybe ‘covering’ was the wrong word. High-waisted anything was helpful for me after I had babies because I felt more firm and ‘in place’,” said one woman.
“Sorry but I know a lot of women that have a mum tummy, they find it very nice to have swimwear that have them cover up and not show any lose skin,” said another.
One woman asked Kayla if she’d feel the same if she hadn’t bounced back to super lean less than a year after Arna was born.
“Honest question though… would you feel this way if you actually had extremely loose skin and bad stretch marks after having Arna?? I’m genuinely curious,” she wrote.
Kayla hasn’t answered the comment yet, but it sparked a lot of debate. Some thought that although Kayla works hard to look the way she does, she might have felt differently if she’d gone on the body journey many women go on after pregnancy, which is to have changes like loose skin and stretch marks, and sometimes to never lose the “baby weight”.
“It’s easy to have ‘body positivity’ when your livelihood is built on being ‘in shape’. I feel like we all try too hard to fit into this box of beauty and that’s an impossible feat as we are all different,” said one woman.