Recently I have noticed bipolar approach to women's bodies post motherhood on the internet. Being a new mother, 2 nd time around, I am sensitive to this topic; looking at all my baby weight and stretch marks on a daily basis makes this hit home.
One side of the coin is all the adds and systems to get your body back into shape, or even better than it was before. There are the various challenges you can take part in, such as: the 30 Day Abs Challenge, the Beach Body system, Fit4Mom, and Bikini Body Mommy. All these plans are aimed at erasing the evidence of having a child from your body (or as close to that as you can get). Society is adding a level of shame to how a mother's body looks after birth, and the public images of celebrities are not helping one bit. Regular women do not have dieticians and fitness coaches, we do not have time to exercise for hours each day (we have jobs and kids to take care of); and yet, we are held to the same standard as the celebrities that have these things. We are being told to "get our bodies back" after having a child. This implies that we lost our bodies somewhere along the way. Changed is not lost.
The other side of the coin is a more artistic one. There is a new movement of photographers that are celebrating the scars of motherhood as badges of honor. They are emphasizing the beauty of our changed bodies; encouraging women to cherish every stretch mark and jiggle as proof of their accomplishment. The one that has gotten the most recognition (and well deserved) is the 4th Trimester Bodies Project. I think that Ashlee Wells Jackson and Laura Weetzie Wilson are taking beautiful pictures of real women and their children. They show that mothers come in all shapes and sizes, and not one of us is perfect, but we are each beautiful in our own way.
I am proud to say that I will be participating in this project when they come to San Francisco in August. This is a huge thing for me, because I have never been comfortable with my body (even when I was at my healthiest). Now that I have experienced the pressures that are placed on moms to look like they never had a child, I want to help to destroy that for my daughter. (For the record, J has never put any pressure on me about my body, as long as I am happy with how I look, he is happy with how I look.) No matter how much I try and diet and exercise, I will still have the body of someone who has had 2 children via c-section. Nothing will change that. So, for this photo shoot, I am not going on a crazy diet or extreme fitness regime. That would defeat the whole purpose. I am just going to be me, and I will come out of this a little happier and more comfortable in my own skin.