Some Instagrammers are inspired . . . others horrified.

Blake Bakkila
February 23, 2018

Carlee Benear is a mom and a yogi, but those two identities aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, she breastfeeds her daughter while practicing her flow. And though most of her more than 63,000 followers are supportive, a few have shared negative remarks about her posts.

First, the love and support. Benear captions her Instagram photos with inspiring quotes or her own words about motherhood, self-love, and family. Thousands of fans cite her as a source of positivity and encouragement.

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“I ABSOLUTELY LOVE your page,” one respondent wrote. “I love that you have such a strong bond with your children and with yourself, and I love that you’re so down to Earth. Seriously, keep it up. You bring out the beauty in motherhood.” Another shared, “You’re an incredible woman and an inspiration."

From Code Red by Lisa Lister In lots of cultures around the world, a girl’s transition to womanhood is celebrated in ritual and ceremony; it’s the time of coming into her creative and spiritual power, yet so many women in the western world have lacked this celebratory entry into womanhood, and this has affected everything from their attitude to their menstrual cycle, to how they view the body they currently reside in and a million things inbetween. Our menarche, our first bleed, is when our song, our life purpose, our truth is awakened in us. With each cycle we sing louder, speak more truthfully and nurture that bud as we respond to, and work with, the lessons it provides, allowing us to open and grow into the true awesomeness of who we are. Imagine if we had all known this, at that moment of our first bleed – how would it have been different? For me, I’d have stopped trying so hard to be ‘someone’ in my late teens and twenties – to achieve, to be liked, to be validated – because I’d have total trust that with each bleed cycle, life was unfolding me, just as it should. There would have been SHE flow, literally and figuratively, as I narrated the story of the woman that I am from a place of truth and purpose – my womb. What’s your menarche story? What was your first bleed like? What did it feel like? Where were you? Was it celebratory? Was it negative? I invite you to put yourself in that young girl’s body, in that moment, right now and allow your heart to simply riff on it in your journal. Depending on your first bleed experience, this may feel traumatic; or it may feel like a total non-event but know that your menarche story is a powerful insight into the woman you are now, so dare yourself to really go there. If your experience was a celebratory one, how did that make you feel? To have the moment you became a woman, marked by family and friends? Were you proud? Were you embarrassed? If it wasn’t celebratory, what was it like? How did it feel, physically and emotionally? Where were you? Did you tell your parents? What was their reaction? CONTINUED IN COMMENTS PHOTO BY @REALTEELPHOTO leggings by @onzie Moon lamp By @mindfulbohemian Dreads @katinka_dreads

A post shared by Carlee Benear (@carleebyoga) on

"I understand loving your body, but why do you have to show so much skin? Where's your self respe-" Okay Susan, let's talk. I've been noticing you around these parts quite a lot lately. You seem to think that it's impossible for a woman to claim and capture her own body in its most natural state, without her skin being for someone else's sexual gratification. You seem to think that nudity instantly equates to sexuality, when in reality nudity might mean any one of hundreds of things, including, as the name of this page might suggest, a celebration of positive body image. You don't realise that thinking SEX as soon as you see flesh is something you've been conditioned to think by a culture that teaches us all that women's bodies are objects for other people's consumption. And that the time you spend telling other women to cover up could be better used uncovering why it is you have that reaction, and unlearning it. You link the amount of clothing a woman wears to how much they must respect themselves. This is a pretty archaic kind of sexism used to ingrain shame into women's relationship with their own bodies. You're allowed to value modesty, but you should work on accepting that what empowers you, isn't the same for everyone, and doesn't place you on any kind of moral highground. So you see Susan, if seeing bodies being proudly shown and embraced as nature made them makes you uncomfortable, if you instantly sexualise anyone showing any skin, and if you think that slut shaming women is ever okay? This probably isn't the place for you. Oh, and you're part of the problem. K byeeeeee. 💜💙💚🌈🌞 Badass words By @bodyposipanda Outfits by @lovekikikins

A post shared by Carlee Benear (@carleebyoga) on

But in the Twitterverse, there's always controversy. A few Instagrammers found the intimate photos offensive, and others questioned the combination of breastfeeding and doing yoga.

“You’re disgusting,” one respondent wrote. “I hope someone reports you.” Another added, “This is just weird. And no, NOT the breastfeeding. But that you’re making it a circus trick.”

Several of her supporters rushed to her defense. Wrote one: “I cannot believe you are being abused by ignorant people over this post! It’s a beautiful picture of a mother feeding her child while also caring for herself. What is more beautiful? Self nourish to nourish your child…”

Benear herself stated that breastfeeding while doing yoga poses has helped her bounce back from the physical and emotional effects of giving birth. In one post, she said that she started doing it after delivering her second child.

PHOTO BY @REALTEELPHOTO My yoga journey started after the birth of my second child. I wasn't willing to go through postpartum depression again, so I actively committed to the journey within. My kids are always around me and my two boys started their journey along with me. When we found out we were expecting again, we celebrated the creation of life together as my daughter grew inside my womb. Yoga has helped me dive into motherhood and become the mother I always dreamed of, it gave my children the mother they need. One who is loving , supportive and can react with patience- and in turn they are being brought up in a home that they can feel accepted and learn to accept others. They learn how BIG the heart is everyday and how much love it holds for all things. When their sister entered the world, that same aspects applied to her. Life as a mother has it's stresses , but yoga helps us all reconnect to what is really the must do's of everyday life. To Love and be loved. Bringing her to our practice of embracing life was the natural choice. They grow up learning to be limitless. As far as breastfeeding yoga goes, anyone who has breastfed knows that it is a 24/7 dedication. I believe as parents it is our duty to make that time for our self because we can not pour from an empty cup. Breastfeeding yoga has helped me combat postpartum depression and has made my breastfeeding journey free of any bumps in the road, such as mastitis, worry of lacking in supply, getting over those first few weeks of tenderness, let down control and the stresses of being needed around the clock- to name a few. Not only that, but it helped me get my mind out of the way and let my body soar with the possibilities and control that are naturally there. CONTINUED IN COMMENTS 👇👇👇

A post shared by Carlee Benear (@carleebyoga) on

“Breastfeeding yoga has helped me combat postpartum depression and has made my breastfeeding journey free of any bumps in the road, such as mastitis, worry of lacking in supply, getting over those first few weeks of tenderness, let down control and the stresses of being needed around the clock- to name a few,” she wrote.

At least one viewer who came to Benear's site expecting to be a critic admits that she came away impressed and inspired.

“I expected to be outraged, disgusted and offended...And I was. At first,” a commenter named Beth wrote in an email to Benear. “But as I sat with my feelings I began to question my perspective … Whatever it was, I chose to let it go and really SEE what was being offered in each photo: beauty, family, love, yoga, truth and so much more. So thank you.”