Slick Woods is the stunning model who redefined expectations of pregnancy, and beauty, and, well, a woman’s capability to do it all, when she walked down the runway at the SavageXFenty show while in literal labour.
Later that night, she gave birth, revealing that she’d had contractions during the New York Fashion Week show. And two weeks after, she’s uploaded a floor-length mirror selfie to Instagram stories. In the photo, which will fade from her Instagram account but live on in the screen-grabbed internet and so many women’s psyches, Slick poses with a nappy bag over her shoulder, a dummy in the other hand and, most notably, a flat stomach. The buggy’s in the hallway behind her.
It’s already been heralded a ‘post baby SnapBack’, a ‘toned post-baby body’ and an example of ‘ripped abs’, in turn summoning two warring factions from deep within our soul. And the feud goes a little like this:
A splinter group peels off to wonder, perhaps, if this photo is all fake news, if it was taken before Slick even got pregnant (it wasn’t), or has been airbrushed (it hasn’t), and then we’re all left frowning and shrugging.
Because there’s no certain way out of this tussle, a tussle based on expectations of women’s collective righteousness that (alongside childbirth, its anticipation and aftershocks) no man ever has to bear.
Perhaps the answer lies in Slick’s truth. First up, she is 22 years old, and younger mothers tend to recover from childbirth - just like hangovers - quicker than older mothers. Second, far swifter than her ‘snapback’ was Slick’s transition from model to role model. Right after the Savage x Fenty show, she uploaded two photos of her looking serenely exquisite in lingerie, cradling her baby bump. And the caption was a powerful rallying call: “This is the face of a WOMAN IN LABOR, we hold shit down most of us don’t even know how much we’re going through, I’m here to say I CAN DO WHATEVER THE F_CK I WANT WHENEVER THE F_CK I WANT AND SO CAN YOU’.
She was heralded as a new feminist icon, thanks to her message that all barriers to women’s participation and access to public life should evaporate, right now.
The current message is far less strident - the only caption on her Instagram story simply reads ‘Out w lil daddie’, meaning her baby son. And that’s fine: doing one great thing doesn’t mean every thing she ever does has to be just as great. The same goes for her posing in a crop top - why should everything she does apply to anyone but her?
Yet it’s easy to see how sorely the old message jars with the current situation - two weeks after childbirth, most women can barely get themselves off the couch, let alone into a crop top and cargo pants. They should be able to do what the fuck they like, as Slick preached, but so often, their physicality, which they may wish ‘snapped back’ like Slick’s, gets in the way of that.
Slick is a role model, but she’s also a model, with a job to do, and returning to work, as so much of Instagram is these days for influencers of all stripes, just two weeks after childbirth is an unenviable challenge. Perhaps in tandem with this, she had a lot of help and training to get back into shape? It’s worth presuming that when contemplating any celebrity’s, or even any wealthy person’s body.
It’s truthful that Slick has somehow survived the biggest, most magical yet traumatising experience her body will have ever gone through and made it look like it was no big thing. And Slick can post her truth on her Instagram account as much as she damn well likes. But the truth isn’t always fair, is it