Each summer Jenna and I donate our time to a cause that both of us feel passionately about – celebrating motherhood and postpartum beauty. That’s not exactly a project that you see splashed across magazine covers – nope. At one end of the spectrum is so and so is back on the runway three months after giving birth and at the other is the so and so seems to have just completely let herself go. What absolute rubbish. Every time I see these headlines while I’m unloading my shopping cart and refereeing who gets to put the grocieries on the belt, I can’t help but snort in disgust. How sad that something as life changing as motherhood has been reduced to nothing more than a shallow headline rife with judgement.
All of our journeys as a mom is unique to each of us, yet I find it incredibly beautiful that regardless of shape, background, size, colour, that it is a thread that binds millions of women together from every corner of the world. There is little doubt that motherhood is a completely transformative experience that touches every aspect of our beings, and its mark on our bodies is no exception. In a society that is constantly trying to tell us that what beauty is , women are beginning to push back. In doing this, we are helping to shape a different future not only for ourselves, but for our children – for the way our daughters and sons will look at themselves, mothers, their partners.
So, to all the mamas who participated, thank you for being brave, for standing and saying, “Here I am. This is me. I am enough.” No matter where you are in your own journey of self-love and acceptance to seeing and celebrating your own postpartum beauty, know that somewhere another mother will see these images of you, read your words, and know that she is not alone. Despite our differences, we are all in this together.
~xo Aimee & Jenna
The floral crowns were provided by
“My journey to this body that I have been left with came at no surprise. I knew long before I was pregnant that when I’d decide to have a baby that I would be genetically prone to stretch marks. Still from the moment I found out I was pregnant they were one of my biggest fears. I bought into every lotion and oil that claimed to help. Every friend had some piece of advise to offer to keep from getting them. But at 34 week staring back at me in the mirror there it was, my first of many marks. I’d like to pretend I handled it with any form of grace, but no that didn’t happen. I cried and wondered if my husband would still love me. Looking back, I realize how ridiculous I was. I wish the women around me would of told me to embrace my new body instead of telling me how to fix it. I don’t love the new body I’ve been left with but I love what it’s given me and I’m working on loving it.”
“I wanted to capture the beauty side of motherhood; the fullness of my heart for my kids. I am proud of my body and what my body has accomplished through carrying and birthing two children. I have a comfort with my body and my kids see that and I wanted to capture the essence of that too…My body has gone through a journey to get to the place it is at today and I am proud of that journey. Before children, I was more critical of my body. Now, I am more forgiving. I gave birth by caesarean with my first and this left me wanting. Even though pregnancy and childbirth gave me an awareness of the world and myself that I had not known before, I felt jipped that I didn’t have the natural birthing experience that I so wanted. So when I was pregnant with my second, I knew I wanted it to be totally different. Even though I sustained an abdominal injury in the latter part of my pregnancy, my midwife gave me the confidence to have the birth I desired. I was so proud of myself for putting all the effort into preparing my mind and heart for a natural waterbirth. It was beautiful and just how I had hoped. Because of this “birthing” journey, I am more open and empathetic to the stories of others’ journeys and struggles.”
“…I love that no matter what our bodies look like or at what time in our lives we can look and feel beautiful. I think too many of us wait until we loose a few extra pounds or wait until we start working out again to have someone take photos of our bodies. But why wait, why not now? There is something beautiful at every stage…I think the most important thing about our bodies is that we are healthy. I want to show women that at every stage and at any size you ARE beautiful. My son loves to come up to me and poke at my squishy belly. Every time he does it I tell him that’s where you used to live. Thats where mommy “grew” you. The squish in my belly instantly feels beautiful to me and I am proud of it.”
“My body image has always been a battle for me. As a Mom at 19 I found myself with stretch marks. Thyroid issues caused my weight to jump and then another pregnancy at 26 and 29 resulted in more stretch marks and thyroid issues. Several surgeries and scars from acute endometriosis have left me with more sefl-conscious issues regarding my body. I have never truly accepted by postpartum body and I am not sure I ever will. I try to focus on the positive messages behind the scars and incisions and the 3 beautiful daughters I have and this helps me put on that 2 piece bathing suit even at my age.”
“…growing up I was very self conscious of my body, my lack of hips, breasts or curves. Since having children I haveembraced the way my body has changed with each pregnancy and birth… I embrace those little stretch marks and the mummy tummy which reminds me of the three beautiful little souls I carried and nourished. I find the older I get the less I worry about what my size or figure. I want to serve as positive role model to my children and hope it will reflect in their attitudes about their body and others.”
“I struggle daily with my body image and often do so in silence. I have found myself secretly shaming my postpartum body; hating my stretch marks, “mommy apron”, saggy breasts, scars and extra weight. I have stressed and cried and felt insecure because I was no longer a size 10 but plus size. After two C-sections and two losses in between, I am learning to celebrate the journey my body and I have taken; the lives it has carried, nourished, and provide comfort to. I have two beautiful daughters and I would give the world for them to never experience the feeling of body shaming. Nor do I want to perpetuate the insecurities and self-hate. I want them to grow up confident and knowing that bodies come in all shapes and sizes. I want them to know that beauty is not defined by how much you weigh or what size of clothing you wear but from self-love and acceptance of the differences in the world.”
“I guess in the eyes of some I am the lucky one when it comes to my postpartum body… I didn’t get the stretch marks or have problems going back to my previous weight… However I still deal with postpartum issues they are just more… Well… Unseen. Let’s just say forceps should be avoided at all costs if you ever hope to run or do jumping jacks ever again…What I’ve struggled with most is anxiety… When I was an early teen our family suffered an enormous loss of two children. For years I managed to stuff it… I had no idea how much that would affect me when my first child was placed in my arms and honestly I would gladly trade anxiety for all those outside things that us women fret about on a daily basis when we look in the mirror. I have to say in all of this I am lucky to have parents and step-parents that raised me to be confident and accepting of all body types and I know how important that is to pass onto my son and daughter…We are trying our best to teach them to be blind to shape, size and colour and when the time is right we will also explain all the other postpartum issues women may deal with and how a strong loving support system is so important to get through any issue whether on the inside or out. My husband and I are proud to see our children already mirroring the confidence and acceptance of others that our families have instilled in us.”
“I want my daughter to love herself. For who she is in every aspect. I don’t want her to think that there is a “normal”, a way that a woman should look. I want her to know that we are all beautiful and our bodies are amazing, capable of growing and nourishing life… I’m not sure that I can say I have a favourite part of my body postpartum, but it gave life and whatever it looks like because of that, is perfectly fine.”
“It was important to me to participate to gain the confidence with my new normal and to show others no matter what, you are beautiful. My body didn’t really change much until after my second baby which is when I had someone tell me I was not allowed to wear a bikini because ‘no one wants to see a mom body’, at first that tore me down a little but I realized I am beautiful and I want my boys to see that confidence to help them learn not to body shame. My favorite part of my post baby body is breastfeeding my son, the amazing feeling that I am the sole thing that has kept him alive this long has made me feel like super woman.”
“It was important to capture this moment in my life. To one day show my daughter that momma was so proud of her body. To teach her that she should be fearless and proud, just as I was. To be able to stand and say, I am amazing. I am beautiful. I am enough. For my son to know that beauty is in the flaws…I feel the best about my self right now. My body tells an amazing story…I wear the markings of a mother well, the stretch marks that explode across my abdomen and around to my back. The wider hips, and looser skin, even the way I walk has changed. I carry my self differently. I am a mother. I felt so earthly and whole being pregnant, llike I was a part of it all. This body I have is to be celebrated. I did something so common and ordinary, yet so tranformitive and awesome. My body gave me two amazing littles. It deserves to be loved, revered and show cased.”
“I did not grow or nurture my two youngest children with my body but it is my body they turn to be cuddled, comforted and held. My hands wipe away tears of sadness or frustration and clap for their successes and gains. My lap is used as their pillow when they are sleepy and my voice that sings to them and calls their name. I love them with my whole self, body and soul and will care for and protect them until my last breath… We may not see ourselves as the “standard ideal” but I feel…we are perfectly beautiful with all of the scars, stretch marks extra pounds we have from carrying, birthing or just raising & loving our kids no matter how they came to us. “
“Successful mothers are not the ones who have never struggled, they are the ones that never give up despite the struggles.” ~Sharon Jaynes