Artist Reimagines Disney Princesses as Relatable Postpartum Parents

Anna Belenkiy is using her illustrations to dispel the myth of the perfect perinatal “happily ever after” and shine a light on postpartum struggles.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Assistant Editor
Published December 29, 2022

While there are many magical moments in the first few months spent with your newborn, there are also plenty of real struggles that go unseen. One mom is on a mission to dispel the myth of the perfect perinatal “happily ever after”—by depicting everyone’s favorite Disney Princesses as postpartum mothers—stretch marks and all.

Anna Belenkiy (also known as @annabell_illustration on Instagram) is a freelance digital and new mom who first began sharing her relatable drawings of Disney Princesses during the not-so-pretty parts of pregnancy back in early 2021.

“The idea for this series started when I got pregnant (this is my first pregnancy). Pregnancy has always been viewed as something glamorous and magical, especially when you look at other pregnant women and you want to be like them, but then reality came crashing down and I decided to use my beloved Disney princesses to document my least glamorous pregnancy moments,” Belenkiy shared in an interview with Bored Panda

After having her son, Tommy, in August, Belenkiy didn’t stop illustrating the tough moments of motherhood. In her new Disney Princesses Postpartum series, the new mom talks about her struggles with breastfeeding and body image, postpartum anxiety and depression.

In her first illustration of the series, Belenkiy depicts an exhausted Ariel crying over her newborn. In the caption, she writes about her experience, “Being a fresh mommy for me involves tons of anxiety, fearful nightmares and constant care [of] my tiny baby boy. Some days I stay awake all night long to make sure he is breathing, and bad thoughts can take all the energy from me and make me cry hysterically. Thank god I have my supporting husband and father-in-law. This post is dedicated to all the amazing and strong women around the world who are suffering from postpartum anxiety and depression. You are a real fighter.”

In her other illustrations, Belenkiy shows Mulan tearfully breastfeeding, while she talks about breastfeeding dysphoria; and reimagines Belle with stretchmarks and a baby on her hip, as she speaks about body image issues post-pregnancy.

“Suddenly, Tommy giggled and smiled at me, I started to cry after I realized that I never will be the previous me, I am a new version of myself thanks to my baby boy, and those stretching marks are my personal medal of valor. Because all of us mummies are heroes,” Belenkiy wrote.

While Belenkiy started her postpartum series in 2021, her drawings have recently gone viral across the internet, with parents chiming in on how good it feels to be seen and acknowledged and how encouraged they are to know they aren’t the only ones going through tough times.

In her most recent postpartum princess illustration, Belenkiy reimagines Jasmine as a working mom embracing her baby after a day spent away from home. “Even though my work is amazing, it was so goddamn difficult for me to get out of home, it is absolute rehab. I was craving his smell and touch, I found myself crying so many times after leaving home in the morning. It is a bit easier now, and I really hope it will be even easier for me in the future,” Belenkiy shared.

Moms sounded off in the comments with their own postpartum experiences. “Thanks for this beautiful illustration, I completely identify myself in it. Almost 1 month since I got back to work and I still feel so sad,” one mom said, while another added, “Ahhh! I just love this! Thank you for bringing awareness to the struggle of being a postpartum working Mama!”

If you are dealing with postpartum stress, anxiety or depression, you aren’t alone. For help along the way, consult The Bump’s Postpartum Resources or reach out to your healthcare provider for expert advice to fit your specific needs.

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