As if the multi-level marketing selling craze on Facebook wasn't extensive enough, one mom was recently approached in person, by a stranger, trying to pitch her a weight-loss product. Last week, Kelly Howland was looking through the value bins at Target with her 2-week-old when a woman came up to her and started engaging in small talk. The stranger first asked pretty standard questions about the baby's age and weight.
"And then she asks The Question. 'Have you heard of It Works before?'" Howland recounted in a viral Facebook post. "I tell her that I know what it is but I've never utilized it. She proceeds with artificial shock and surprise and gives me her card and her spiel."
It Works sells items from skin products that "wipe out your wrinkles" to "that crazy wrap thing" that tightens and tones, and is powered by distributors who focus on selling through social media. For instance, you might have seen your friends posting before-and-after shots or inviting you to Facebook "parties" that promote these products. It Works isn't the only company who uses this business model, but it's one of the most successful. In 2015, Business Insider reported the company made $1.2 billion in three years and has more than a million recurring customers.
Howland makes it clear that she's not upset at the company or at the woman.
"She could be absolutely charming and just trying to hustle her own living," she writes. "And I have respect for a woman with guts to do that."
But what is so wrong with these kinds of pitches is how they target new mothers and perpetuate the perception that postpartum bodies should be changed.
"Let's not pretend that approaching me specifically was a coincidence. Because it's not like she ran up to every female at Target to hand out her card. But she did come to me—with my baby billboard of being brand-new postpartum. ... I don't think I have to spell out for a single woman the cultural pressure that postpartum mothers face regarding their physical appearance. We know. We all know. She knew. And that's why she approached me," Howland writes. "Can we PLEASE not perpetuate the pressure, the impossible expectations, and therefore keep alive the insecurities that we newly postpartum women face regarding our new and changing bodies as we enter motherhood?"
I have folded back the contact info of the woman who gave this to me because I'm not about to put another woman on blast like that, but listen. * I am shopping in Target with my obviously fresh baby....
How should we perceive moms' bodies? Howland nails it.
Moms are "amazing, life-giving, creation-birthing vessels" that should be praised, not faced with pressures to be skinnier or look flawless. And physical changes are marks of accomplishment, not shameful reminders.
"My body doesn't need to be wrapped or squeezed or changed," Howland says. "It needs to be valued and revered for the incredible life it just brought into this world. THAT is beauty and THAT is all it needs."
So next time you're trying to sell that body wrap or skin-firming lotion, don't target a mom who just birthed a human with her incredible body. Or you know what, don't target any woman because of their body. Period. Let's just say it doesn't work.