This Yogi Was Told She "Looked Like a Whale" In a Prenatal Yoga Photo
Yoga instructor Heidi Kristoffer is known for her happy and lighthearted approach to the practice. Over the past year, while expecting her third child, Heidi has been going through prenatal yoga flows and sharing photos and videos, one of which she (and Shape) shared on Instagram. But instead of supporting and encouraging the mom-to-be for taking care of her body and mind-not to mention being able to still balance with a growing belly-some haters decided to body-shame her in the comments. One Instagram user, in particular, got seriously nasty saying: "I just don't believe in posting shirtless pics on the internet especially when you look like a whale." (Newsflash, BTW: There's nothing wrong with working out while pregnant.)
Turns out, these were exactly the kind of comments Heidi was afraid of when she got pregnant (then with twins) several years ago. "I hid from social media when I was pregnant with the twins," Heidi tells Shape. "I posted pictures of just food for nine months because I was so uncomfortable with pregnancy, even though it was something I wanted so much."
After giving birth, however, she says she realized that bodies during pregnancy are nothing to be ashamed or self-conscious about. "I saw so many of my Instagram peers posting pictures of themselves doing amazing things while they were pregnant and it was so inspiring to me," she says. "That's when I realized I wasn't going to hide my next pregnancy."
Heidi says she wants to show that carrying a baby doesn't mean you have to feel disconnected with your body (the mind-body connection is so crucial for your yoga practice after all) or that you're suddenly incapable of being active. "I'm so proud of the fact that my body is able to do all of these things while I'm growing a human, and that's what I want to share," she says.
The funny thing is, prior to getting pregnant the first time around, Heidi says she was actually shamed for being too skinny. "I started posting on Shape.com in 2012 and every single post had comments about how I need to eat a burger and saying 'how dare you put an anorexic girl on a website for fitness,'" she says. "Fast-forward to when I did get pregnant, people started calling me a whale. It made me realize that you just can't win. I try to remember that angry, mean people are going to take it out on whoever and it's just really sad." (Related: What Crossfit Athlete Emily Breeze Wants Trolls to Know About Working Out While Pregnant)
For the most part, Heidi says she tries to remember that as hurtful as these comments can be, they actually have nothing to do with her. "Unhappy people try to share their unhappiness with others," she says. "It's more about them than it is about you."
Her solution? "Honestly, I just delete the comments because what's the point?" she admits. "You can't feed the trolls because if you feed them, you're A, letting them know that they got to you and B, you're telling them to do it more because you're giving them what they want." (Related: The Creators of the Brave Body Project Have a Message for Online Body-Shamers)
That's why we're so proud to have Heidi be a part of the #MindYourOwnShape campaign, which is about showing the real and raw effect of body-shaming and how women can and should stand together to fight against it online and IRL.
As far as the haters are concerned, Heidi says "I wish that if you didn't have anything nice to say, you'd keep it to yourself. I wish that we could all just be kinder to each other. How much better would this world be if we could give compliments or stay quiet instead of hiding behind the internet and being nasty?" Sounds like an awesome universal goal.