A new advertising campaign in the London Underground spotlights women’s bodies after childbirth, depicted without the use of digital retouching.
Mothercare’s Body Proud Mums campaign aims to represent “a part of motherhood that is rarely seen in media,” the childcare retailer said in a statement.
The campaign comprises 10 photos of women holding their babies and wearing only underwear – revealing scars, stretch marks and other physical effects of pregnancy and childbirth. The ads appear in more than 30 Tube stations across London, on LCD screens and escalator panels.
Liz Day, a parenting consultant for Mothercare, told CNN that the retailer wanted to “celebrate the fact that all women are so different, even though often that’s not shown in advertising and photography.”
The photos also appear in a social media campaign by Mothercare, alongside stories from the models.
One mother, Tesha, who was photographed 26 weeks after giving birth, said she was initially “devastated” and “ashamed” of her new-mom body. But she concluded, “I’m learning that this is the new me now. My stretch marks are going nowhere and nor is my scar; they are reminders that without them I wouldn’t have my son.”
Kesia, pictured 17 weeks after childbirth, said, “I always knew my body would be different after giving birth, however, I didn’t expect my mind to take so long to get used to seeing myself.” She added, “I wanted to take part to show people that it is normal to look like this after having a baby. I want to show the baby is more important than the marks!”
The Body Proud Mums campaign was created for Transport for London’s “The Women We See” competition, which called on entrants to produce ads that “reflect London’s diversity, feature women from all backgrounds and move away from harmful gender stereotypes.” As the contest’s runner-up, Mothercare received £50,000 of digital advertising space.
Mothercare found women to participate in the campaign via open casting calls and social media posts. The moms were shot by British photographer Sophie Mayanne.
“We wanted the images to feel authentic and honest – and wanted to document the diversity of motherhood,” Mayanne told CNN. “There are a lot of marginalized bodies we don’t see represented in the media.”
Mayanne announced in 2017 that she would “no longer digitally manipulate bodies or skin” in her work. She said she made the decision after speaking about health and weight loss with a model she’d previously shot.
“At the time I worked with her, I was quite new to the industry, and would edit my images in the similar way to others that I saw,” the photographer told CNN. “I decided that I was contributing to this negative body image.”
“I think it will be great to see an advert that might make a woman smile, feel more comfortable,” Mayanne said of the Mothercare campaign. “The images are relatable – and the joy of motherhood is evident too.”