Motherhood Photography by Edmonton Family Photographers | Hobbs Photography
Some thoughts on motherhood and representation, from the words of one of this year’s participants,
“It’s so sad we do not see real bodies. Before [I participated in] the mother’s beauty shoot, I looked at photos from past sessions and said “I love that she looks like me”.”
“[I think the biggest perception is] that we should all be supermom and know exactly what were doing, in reality, we are all just winging it.”
“Motherhood has completely changed my life and my body. Everything is softer, rounder and a little bit scarred. In 2013, I struggled with severe anxiety and depression. In the middle of my struggle, my husband and I found out I was pregnant. Pregnancy was extremely hard and difficult. But after birth, a light went on. I was happy, focused and loved being a mother. It consumed my entire life and I couldn’t be happier. “
“In the past two years, I have struggled with severe anxiety since we lost a baby boy on December 22, 2016. March 22, 2018, we found out we were surprisingly expecting and what should have been one of the happiest moment in life was not…I was an emotional basket case. Still, in the back of my mind I am scared and every time someone says oh my god your so tiny, my heart crashes into my stomach like a ton of bricks. I am 6 months pregnant now with a healthy (thus far) baby girl. However, it has not been without complications and I haven’t totally allowed myself to truly be excited.”
“I had undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for many years after having my first baby. She was diagnosed with a major heart condition in utero. She went through eight surgeries and two open heart surgeries before her third birthday. I carried the PTSD for more than 10 years before I had treatment. Now I have the memories, which I would not trade for anything, but the “trauma” associated with it is finally put to rest!”
“I hope my children remember me as being fearless and strong, a woman who stands her ground and doesn’t allow herself to be pushed around. Also, a woman who would do anything for her family, having unconditional love.”
“When I told my mom I’m going to stop breastfeeding, she encouraged me not to. It put so much pressure on me. I didn’t want to let her down and everyone else. I didn’t leave the house for the first 3 months in the dead of winter trying to pump as much in hopes that my milk supply will increase and that my baby would finally latch. Both did not happen. I was miserable and all I wanted was her support of my decision. She formula fed all her 3 kids as she had low supply too so I thought she’d be more understanding. I know she had good intentions but I for the first time in my life, I felt like a total failure.”
“You can achieve anything. You are beautiful.”
“…I had bone cancer like Terry Fox at the age of 17. I went from being a sport playing, able-bodied to someone who society has labeled disabled. Just before I found out I was pregnant with my first child, all the metal hardware in my leg broke. I did my whole pregnancy with a broken leg. I was already embarrassed and trying to deal with my new “handicapped “ label but when I put on 80lbs during my first pregnancy I felt ugly. I refused pictures: As more time went on I gained more and more weight with each pregnancy, there was as no way hell I would be in a picture,.
Over this last year and losing 130lbs, I looked back at all the family pictures and realized, there is nothing for me to share with their kids. There’s no pictures of their mom or one day maybe grandma.”
“My mother was extremely modest. So to be naked was always a challenge for me even to this day”
“We had an emergency c-section where I was put under. I woke up no longer pregnant and with no baby. Hours later I met my daughter but felt a big disconnect. The recovery was the most difficult. It took up months to create a bond of love.”
“My confidence has struck an all-time low during motherhood as life completely changes alongside the changes my body underwent. My goal is to be strong for my daughter, physically and mentally. I want to teach her that women grow and create beautiful babies and our bodies are amazing creation vessels no matter what shape, colour or size they are. “
“I’ve breastfed the HELL out my kids! I’ve been nursing for more than 6 years straight and I worked really hard for that! I’ve been tandem nursing my two youngest for 1.5 years!
I’ve been a stay at home mother for a long time and I hope that I’ve been able to provide my kids with all the love and attention and memories that will last them their whole lives.
I am SUPER proud of my uterus and vagina. They’ve really done me well! My last baby was born unassisted at home after 45 minutes of labour. She came rocketing into my hands just before midnight only a few minutes before the midwife arrived. My middle child was born after 90 minutes of labour and my first only 2 hours.”
“I felt so isolated and alone. For the first time in my life, I was questioning everything. I was questioning myself. Was I cut out to be a mother? Can I do this? Am I enough? I felt like I was losing my identity and I didn’t know who I was anymore. I guess I wanted to do this to feel empowered and gain that self-confidence back. To remind myself of the woman I used to be, the strong woman I want to be and how I want the boys to see me.”
“I have always been a binge eater. I have struggled to keep myself at a healthy weight and making sure I give myself time to eat well has not been an easy task. It’s important to spend the time to make sure my son is healthy and happy but it’s also important I find the time to keep myself healthy for my son. The hardest thing to accept is knowing the work I previously put in to get myself healthy and having to put that work in again.”
“Motherhood was the catalyst to all that I am as a woman now. It made me name my feminism, my sexuality and made me face the fears and limiting beliefs that were holding me back for much of my life (I am not good enough, not worthy, etc….). My children make me want to be my best self, but also they make me take stock of who I am when I am not my “best” and still love that person too.”
“I feel like I, and a lot of other mothers, struggle because we aren’t supposed to do it alone. It really does take a village to raise… a mother. I feel so alone sometimes because nobody except another mother can truly understand the struggles of motherhood and I feel like we don’t all have that community to reach out to. This is important to me, and I try my best to let every mama I know that I am here, because feeling alone and trying to balance the world on your shoulders can make one feel helpless. I’m with you, mama.”
“I want to show my daughter that you don’t have to fit societies standards of beauty to be beautiful. And also the beautiful truth of what a postpartum body looks like, it’s no longer what it was but it is still beautiful. Women often say that having their baby “wrecked their body” but I want her to know she never wrecked mine and I am still beautiful
“In my mind, I am a 32-year-old. Often I pass a mirror and wonder why my grandma is looking back at me!
I’m having a difficult time accepting my aging skin and mature curves. I thought participating was an important step for me to learn to accept who I am on the outside and for others to learn what aging looks like underneath the clothes.”
“I often felt let down by my body after kids because of muscle loss, hair loss, bad skin, just an exhaustion that cannot be described. I would work for 12+ hours on my feet in heels and not be as tired as I am from what feels like half as much work. But I have to remember that I grew two healthy beautiful boys and nourished them from my own body. Muscle can be gained, hair regrown, but the time and energy I am putting into them now cannot be redone so its worth it.”
“This session was extremely important to me because after having for 4 children and losing the body I once had, I need to be reminded that these changes I went through are normal and well worth it.
I needed this session because even though the man who helped me create these precious souls does not look at me the same because of those changes; I need to be reminded to still love myself for the sacrifices I had to make for my babies.
I needed this session because even though my whole life is changing so drastically, I need to be reminded that I am beautiful just the way I am and I am stronger than I give myself credit for.”
“This was important to me because my daughter suffers tremendously, and I want her to know that she isn’t alone. There is power in numbers and when we are all together, nothing seems impossible.”
“I have been slim my entire life with little to no effort (chalk it up to lucky genetics). I feel as though there has been a big shift, in the past few years, towards the positive representation of plus-sized women. I love the idea of building all women up, unfortunately, this has made the pendulum swing so far in one direction that there is now a huge stigma attached to being a notably slender female. Media often describes “real women” as those with ample curves or of a certain shape or size. I am tired of being shamed for something that has no bearing on who I am as a person or told to go “eat something” because it is assumed that I chose to have this body type at the expense of my health.
I AM a REAL woman. I have the same joys. I have the same pains. I am more than just my body.”
“No matter what I will always be Tucker’s mom. No matter what size I am, no matter where my stretch marks are, I will still be the one he loves and looks up to.”
“My biggest struggle as a mother is how I am perceived. I am 23 with 3 children. In today’s age, women are having babies at older ages and seeing a mom in her early 20’s can be shocking. I’ve been asked if I am the nanny of my own children because I am just a child myself and couldn’t possibly handle the responsibility of children. I’ve been overlooked by health professionals in a condescending context, even as far as a NICU nurse going above my head to ask my parents how to proceed, ignoring the fact that I was present and fully capable of making that decision. I was judged, based on her idea that I was too young…”
“The plus size movement has brought more women online. However, the plus size models are still small waist, large bottom, and soft small tummy. It’s so sad we do not see real bodies”
“I don’t see women of color represented in a positive way. I see it changing now and I’m hopeful people will see women of color breastfeed, postpartum bodies and hear struggles of dealing with cultural issues pertaining to pregnancy and raising children. My mom lives with us and always has, it’s cultural and some people don’t understand or agree with it but my kids have a grandma who is always there and it was a lifesaver after having postpartum depression. “
“I think the biggest struggle is losing a part of my identity, not being my own person anymore. I’m Erin, plus three. I’m their mom. I do miss the person I was before. I think a lot of moms struggle with this and then feel guilty for it. It’s OK to miss the old you. I have learned that it doesn’t mean I love my kids any less, it doesn’t make me a bad mom. It makes me human, and I am OK with that.”
Thank you so, so much for following along again. This was our sixth year (can you believe it?!) and we have no plans to stop showing mamas how incredible they are any time soon. We began this project because, spending so much of our time photographing families in the Edmonton area, we were saddened to see so many moms just not loving the skin they were into the point they were removing themselves from their own family photos. We didn’t know if we could do anything to change this, but we decided we would give it a shot. When we set out photographing motherhood in this way, we hoped to make a small difference for our handful of participants. We were so happy when we received message after message saying how much these images meant to them.
What we didn’t expect were the messages from women the world over who, because of a handful of brave mothers here willing to share themselves and their story, were able to see a piece of themselves. Often for the first time, they were seeing women who weren’t photoshopped to “perfection” who were sharing their journeys in an honest and vulnerable way and realizing they are enough just as they are in their own perfectly imperfect way. We already can’t wait for next year.
xx Aimee & Jenna
We do have a few other things going on in the meantime! Aimee is photographing a year-long documentary project focusing on mothers’ first month postpartum. If you’re expecting a baby within the next year and are interested in participating, you can read more here: Postpartum Photo Essay