Have you ever met someone who is the ‘real deal?’ Someone who is honest, humble, works hard, and genuinely enjoys life? I had the privilege to sit down for coffee at Warehouse 4 with a local ‘real deal:’
Brenda Rivera Stearns, or as I have known her, @she_plusfive on Instagram.
Technically it was the first time we met, but I have ‘known’ (aka followed) Brenda for three years on Instagram. I can actually remember where I was when she came up in my feed. I was a new mom, sitting on our old green couch, phone in hand, laundry waiting to be folded when I saw a picture of a mom showing her postpartum belly. I couldn’t look away; it was like I breathed in her self-love and acceptance all through one photo. Maybe if this random mom on Instagram could accept her body, I could, too?
When I brought up that this was the first post I had seen, she said that this photo was the one that earned her the blue checkmark on IG. This photo has appeared on accounts such as Mother.ly, Burtsbeesbaby and Babylist, and also appeared in Today’s Parent magazine in 2019. Brenda has been featured in dozens of publications.
“I’m just a mom with an iPhone!”
Sure, she’s a mom with an iPhone but Brenda uses her platform for more than followers; she wants to create a community and her heart for moms has drawn many in to stay.
“I want people to come to my account and just…” Brenda lounges back in her chair and sighs, smiling. Brenda’s goal on her Instagram isn’t her numbers (which, like I know people say that, but she truly means it), it’s cultivating a safe space. She is intentional in her interactions and the depth she’s managed over social media is kind of mind-boggling. “If it gets zero likes, but one person feels valued, it was worth it.”
Part of her draw is how vulnerable and open she is. Recently I’ve been tuning into the @she_plusfive IG stories. Brenda will offer up a poll or post a question that either she’s asking or a follower has suggested. The topics and responses are funny and relatable. Sex, in-laws, postpartum bodies, you name it, Brenda will probably cover it. “It’s like we’re having a big sleepover,” she tells me, laughing. Can’t you picture it? A virtual sleepover chatting about life and swapping stories.
A post going viral could easily go to anyone’s head, but Brenda has stayed grounded amidst the whirlwind of growing popularity and followers. “It’s all a blessing.” And she means it. Brenda truly loves her audience and online community. Her vulnerability and desire to offer others a place of respite is what creates a loyal following and growing audience. You won’t be a number to Brenda, you’ll be a blessing.