Love Island’s Montana Brown joins the post-pregnancy body reveal club with bikini photo

Expert weighs in on how celebrities sharing postpartum photos can affect new mums.

Montana Brown, former Love Island star, attends Nickelodeon's 2023 Kids' Choice Awards at Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, California
Ex-Love Island star Montana Brown welcomed her first child in June. (Getty Images)

Former Love Island contestant Montana Brown has been praised for sharing a bikini photo of herself just seven weeks after giving birth to her and partner Mark O’Connor’s son, Jude.

The reality star joins a slew of celebrity mothers who have felt empowered to share snaps of their postpartum bodies as part of the body positivity movement, including ex-Love Islander Molly-Mae Hague, singer Jessie J, model Ashley Graham, and TV star Stacey Solomon.

This week, Brown, 27, posted several snaps of herself while on holiday in Marbella with O'Connor and her new baby boy. She was pictured smiling at the camera while wearing sunglasses and a white and orange checkered string bikini.

In the caption, she wrote: "Affirmation for the day: I'm a hot mum."

This summer, 33-year-old Loose Women presenter Solomon also shared a series of selfies that showed her wearing bikinis, swimsuits and cover-ups, four months after she welcomed her fifth child.

On Instagram, she wrote that she was sharing the photographs because she "felt bloody beautiful" and admitted that she did not think she would be "the girl who got to do swimwear shoots" when she was growing up.

New mum Jessie J also decided to celebrate and normalise sharing postpartum bodies, posting a topless snap of herself just 11 days after giving birth to her first child. The Price Tag singer welcomed her son Sky with boyfriend Chanan Safir Colman in May.

She shared a black-and-white photograph of herself and wrote an inspirational caption about embracing her body after pregnancy, both for herself and for "any one else that needs to read this".

"Take your time. Be easy on yourself, your body AND your mind. Remember you are in recovery and don't forget to also remind those around you. Celebrate your new body," she told her followers.

Read more: What Postpartum Life Looks Like In 7 Brilliantly Honest Photos (Huffpost UK, 2-min read)

However, for new mothers who aren't celebrities or influencers, seeing other women's postpartum bodies can sometimes spark insecurity or the urge to compare themselves to one another.

Why are so many celebrities sharing what their bodies look like after giving birth?

Georgina Sturmer, a counsellor registered with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy who specialises in working with women, says that more celebrities feel empowered to show fans how postpartum bodies look like as people are more open to seeing different body types on social media.

"Our culture is changing and we talk more openly than we used to about many of the taboo aspects of our life experience," she explains. "This includes stories and images around menstruation, pregnancy, miscarriage, fertility, menopause and the postnatal period. If you’re a celebrity who is giving birth in this day and age, you're likely to be used to showing and sharing your story with strangers."

Sturmer adds that seeing "unfiltered, real-life images of postpartum bodies" can be help more people "expand our understanding of what is considered to be normal and acceptable as part of the rite of passage of giving birth".

"It's not just about mothers seeing these images themselves. It's also about knowing that everyone around us is getting used to seeing the reality of the postpartum body."

Why might it be uncomfortable for some women to see celebrities’ postpartum bodies?

Although the snaps shared by celebrities have good intentions behind them and are meant to empower their fans, some people might find the postpartum period to be a "time of vulnerability" and "of shifting identity", Sturmer says.

"For many women, our sense of who we are is linked with the reflection that we see in the mirror. During pregnancy, our changing shape and size is prized in society, with images of pregnant women 'blooming' and 'glowing'," she says.

Read more: My postpartum psychosis left me so unwell I forgot I’d had a baby (Yahoo Life UK, 7-min read)

"However, there simply isn’t the same narrative when we consider the postpartum body. We might be a different shape or size than we used to be. Or covered with stretch marks, leaking breasts, or injuries or scars from our birth. These changes might stay with us for the rest of our lives."

While seeing celebrities celebrate their postpartum bodies can help remind new mothers to be accepting of how they look, they can sometimes also "add to the pressure that we pile on ourselves", Sturmer adds.

"We might still not measure up to the image of postpartum beauty that they display on screen. And this could make us feel more self-critical or pressured to 'bounce back' to our pre-baby selves."

How can new mothers overcome this pressure?

Sturmer urges new mums to remember that "comparison is the thief of joy" if they find themselves comparing their bodies to that of celebrities on social media.

"While these photos might be positive in promoting real-life, unfiltered images for us all, it's important to stay grounded and accepting of your own reality," she advises.

"Remember that everyone is different, our prenatal bodies, our birth experience, and the time and capacity that we have to look after ourselves while also looking after a baby."