I have always had great self-esteem and a healthy body image.
And then I got pregnant.
Although the scale and the OBGYN didn’t agree with me, I could feel the changes starting in the first eight weeks. And by the end of 40 weeks, I had gained about 50lbs. A massive amount on my 5’2” frame.
Prior to delivery, I comforted myself with the fact that I did not see any stretch marks. I had been sporadic about applying moisturizer to my pregnant skin; having read over and over that genes, not creams explained pregnancy scaring.
When my son was born at 7lbs, 3oz, I tried not to think about the unaccounted for 42.7lbs that remained.
The first time I looked in the mirror after delivery, I saw that stretch marks were in fact there. I thought back to my lacks-a-daisical cream routine and prayed that I hadn’t allowed this to happen by neglect.
To my delight, I lost 30lbs in the first six weeks postpartum. The last 12 took longer to come off, but they did. But most surprising of all was that it didn’t matter. At the same weight I was pre-pregnancy, I didn’t look the same.
About a month ago I found the website, The Shape of a Mother, which is based on the creator’s belief that “[…] a post-pregnancy body is one of this society’s greatest secrets; all we see of the female body is that which is airbrushed and perfect, and if we look any different, we hide it from the light of day in fear of being seen.”
One of the projects on the site is called “Save Our Daughters,” and it is a collaborative web project to bring awareness to the topic of realistic body images. And on that note, I would have to add:
If we’re going to save our daughters, we have to save our sons, too.
We need to save our sons from thinking beauty is only skin deep.
We need to save our sons from objectifying women.
We need to save our sons from valuing the physical over the intellectual or spiritual.
We can’t control everything the world will show them. And we can’t control the influence of their classmates at school. But we can control the messages our kids hear (and see) at home. We can control the words they hear out of our mouths. We can make sure that we build each other up; instead of tearing each other down. We can make sure that we’re kind and compassionate. We can discourage teasing. We can set an example in our homes that our children can carry out into the world and use to help make a difference for their generation.
After all, our children are going to be the future producers, editors, and photographers; maybe they’ll be the ones to capture something real.