Jurnee Smollett-Bell shares some advice for new moms and tells us what her mother said about raising kids and maintaining a great sense of style.
On May 3rd, Gap launched its film, “Mama Said,” in support of Every Mother Counts, a non-profit organization that’s dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother.
The film stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ali Bird, Candice Swanepoel, Coco Rocha and Liv Tyler, and shows mothers sharing intimate and candid moments with their children dressed in Baby Gap and Gap Kids, set to Jurnee singing a cover of “Let Your Love Flow” by the Bellamy Brothers.
We got some exclusive details from Jurnee about what it’s like being a new mom.
ESSENCE: How did you get involved with the Gap campaign?
Jurnee Smollett-Bell: They reached out to me, and I thought it was such an amazing idea to celebrate women and also to raise money for women across the world who don’t have access to a safe pregnancy or a safe delivery. I was so excited to be a part of it!
ESSENCE: What’s your favorite, Gap ‘go-to’ item?
JSB: I’m such a huge fan of Gap! My mom used to dress me in Gap overalls that I would wear all the time, and now the idea of bringing my son into that tradition is so ironic and full-circle for me.
T-shirts are so important nowadays — having soft tees that I can nurse in on a plane [is so important]. And also their high-waisted khakis (which I wore in the campaign) — I’m a sucker for high-waisted anything, but give me high-waisted khaki’s and I’m out the door!
ESSENCE: On baby weight gain and going up a few dress sizes?
JSB: I always said ‘whenever I get pregnant, I’m going to embrace ALL of the body changes that happen.’ My focus has not been on any sort of snap-back or anything like that because your body won't be the same after giving birth and if anything, that’s something to be celebrated, embraced and owned. After being a mom, we are now in a different chapter in our womanhood and instead of trying to be our old selves or get our old body back we should embrace who we are now.
ESSENCE: What did your ‘mama say’ to help you prepare for Hunter?
JSB: She did give me concrete advice about nursing and how important it was, because she nursed all of us. Growing up, she raised all of us to believe in the importance of vitamins and nutrition, to eat organic, and to deliver without medication. My sister (Jo) and I had our labor at the house and had a water-birth in the tub. My mother emphasized the importance of low lighting and having a very calm birth in order to welcome the baby into a calm atmosphere.
ESSENCE: Who would you say is the most stylish mom out of all the Smollett women?
JSB: My mom! She gets the award for everything! Especially when looking at all the pictures of her being pregnant from the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s. My sister and I used to always try to steal her clothes! She was our fashion icon growing up!
ESSENCE: As a new mom, what advice would you give to pregnant women?
JSB: I would say be kind to yourself. It’s such a transition and it’s so empowering to become a mom, but there are also many challenges. Just remind yourself, every minute, every day, to be kind to yourself. I think we have this idea of motherhood and the kind of moms we want to be and sometimes it’s unrealistic and the goals might be a little too high. You’re going to make mistakes and those mistakes are okay, it’s part of the growth. It’s okay for your child to see you make mistakes, but just remember to be kind to yourself.
Want to get involved with Every Mother Counts' important mission? Gap has issued a call to action for people to make a donation by texting ‘MOMS’ to 20222, to make an automatic donation of $5 to the cause.