Moms Are Proudly Showing Off Their Postpartum Bodies
Their message is inspiring.
Meg Boggs is on a mission to redefine the public perception of a woman’s postpartum body.
If she could tell moms two things to start them on a self-love journey it would be to “look in the mirror” and “get in the photo with your kids.” The mother and blogger says she refused to be in photos the first couple of months of her daughter’s life, “I regret so much that I wasn’t in the photos with her. It’s so important and you have to think about your kids and they are going to want you in the photos with them.”
‘I Felt As If My Postpartum Journey And Body Didn’t Count’
In 2018, Boggs was a first-time mom to a 7-month-old baby and dealing with negative body image issues. As a plus-size woman, she felt she didn’t look like other pregnant or postpartum women on social media. It began during pregnancy, “I would see pictures of a perfect bump and I didn’t relate to that because I definitely did not have a perfect bump.” Boggs would search for images she could relate to online but found none, which was isolating, “I felt as if my postpartum journey and body didn’t count.”
In an attempt to connect with similar women, she started to blog on MegBoggs.com, posted her very first postpartum photo on Instagram and braced for how the internet might react. “To my surprise, my messages flooded with positivity and things like ‘I needed this today.’ That’s when this idea started finding its way into my heart,” Boggs said.
This week was the culmination of a labor of love where she recruited 25 mothers to share their experiences with body image issues, postpartum depression and anxiety, infant loss and grief using the hashtag #This_is_postpartum on Instagram:
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#this_is_postpartum “You’re promoting an unhealthy lifestyle and morbid obesity.” “Pregnancy didn’t do that to you.” “You might want to try diet and exercise.” “It’s about being healthy for your child, you’ll die soon living so unhealthy!” UNHEALTHY. It’s the word that is constantly thrown at me the minute even a sliver of my skin shows. And the reason I felt so ashamed of my body, especially after I gave birth and my weight returned after years of torturing myself to get it off. Why I felt the need to avoid mirrors and photos. Why I felt undeserving and unworthy to say this is postpartum for me. The fear of these words stopped me from living. These notifications still buzz on my phone and the whispers still fill messages all regarding my size and my weight. All pointing at a photo. At a mother. At a quick glance at one life that is *trying* to be her best and coming up short based on the twisted societal views of beauty and health and the “typical” version of postpartum. But a body like mine IS a postpartum body. And I deserve to celebrate it. And I will continue to do so. This needs no explanation. This postpartum body is the strongest now that it has EVER been. This postpartum body shows up multiple times a week to lift heavy weights, has competed, and will compete again next month. (And I’m proud to admit that my total volume per workout is around 11,000 pounds, but whose counting, right?) So I’ll try and say this as clear as possible. All. Postpartum. Bodies. Deserve. To. Be. Celebrated. No. Matter. How. They. Look. And not harassed or ridiculed for being proud of all that they are and all that they have done. Postpartum looks different on every mama. Which makes it beautiful and wonderful and magical and all-the-exciting-happy-powerful-words-combined-into-one-because-MOM-BODS-ARE-THE-BOMB-DOT-COM! Whew. *wipes sweat* So, today, let’s celebrate you. And me. And her. And ALL of us. Let’s celebrate our similarities, our differences, & all the little things in between that make each of us so incredibly unique. Because this is postpartum, and so is @thegarciadiaries journey. 💗
‘It Was OK To Need A Little Help’
One of the women Boggs joined forces with was Ashley Dorough, of houseofdorough.com. For Dorough, this campaign served as an opportunity to let other women know they are not alone. She struggled with anxiety and depression after her eldest daughter was born with a congenital heart defect, “My main focus every day was just to keep her alive and experience every day with her to the fullest,” Dorough said. A couple of years later, after her second daughter was born, she experienced postpartum depression, something that affects one in nine women. “I felt like I was in survival mode all the time, which is normal to a certain extent, but then it started turning into anger and I knew it really wasn’t me, I’m not an angry person,” she said.
Having seen other bloggers online open up about their experiences with antidepressants made her feel empowered talk to her OB. “My doctor told me that it was OK to need a little help right now and that really stuck with me,” Dorough said. The combination of therapy and medication has been a “complete game changer” for her within the last month and her transparency about it has even led to one of her readers reaching out to her own doctor for help.
#This_is_postpartum also serves as a platform for Dorough to encourage other women to dig deeper into what’s really important and starting the self-love process from the inside out. “When I look in the mirror right now, at this stomach, I feel like my body is a little destroyed. I just want women to know that it’s normal to feel this way but it doesn’t have to define you.” She wants her daughters to grow up knowing that what they look like doesn’t equal their worth.
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#this_is_postpartum Hey, you. I know what it feels like to look in the mirror and feel disgusted, worthless, broken. To cry for no reason. To feel too proud to ask for help. To have unexplainable feelings of hopelessness, anger, and resentment. To have all of your expectations of what you think motherhood is going to be like ripped apart. All of these experiences we go through… they DO make us stronger. But why doesn’t it feel that way? Why isn’t it celebrated? Why can’t we glamorize ALL body types and all seasons of life? What is this insane pressure we feel to make everything perfect? I grew up with no one in the media who looked like me, in a society where no one talks openly about depression and anxiety. Today, I’m sharing this for the teenage girl who punishes herself with diets and exercise because she doesn’t look like what she sees on TV. Today, I share this for the mama who is putting so much pressure on herself to “snap back” to her pre-baby weight. I’m sharing this for the plus size women, mamas and mama’s to be who have always been greatly underrepresented in the media. And for the person who thinks they might need help but is afraid to admit it… this is for you. I’ve been you, and I’m here to tell you it’s okay. I’m sharing this for YOU, no matter your gender, size, shape, or race. The good, the bad, the ugly… this is us. This is about finding the beauty in everything around you, your children, your life, and the journey. Getting the help you need even if you don’t think you do. I’m here for you. We’re all here for you. You. Are. Enough. This is postpartum, and so is this: @sidelinesocialite
She Calls Them Her ‘Hope Wounds’
Desiree Fortin knew that being pregnant with triplets was going to change her body, but she told herself she didn’t care. After battling infertility, she believed that nothing mattered other than the fact that she was going to be a mom. When she had her babies, conceived via in vitro fertilization, or IVF, she realized, “My body changed more than I anticipated. There was a lot of extra skin, there were stretch marks covering all over.” She knew a change in perspective needed to take place. Fortin began writing and talking about embracing her body.
An experience as painful as infertility helped Fortin focus her perspective, knowing that there are women walking the same journey she walked through wishing they had her stretch marks and extra skin. “They are the road map to my motherhood. They are a representation of my three miracle babies who I would not have if I did not walk through infertility and carry three human beings at one time,” Fortin says that this perspective helped her find the beauty in every single stretch mark on her body. She calls them her “hope wounds” because they represent “things that I prayed for and longed for.”
Even though some of the reaction to these photos has been critical, Fortin remains focused on the reason she’s doing this in the first place, to empower women to love themselves and share their stories, “It’s like a connection is made because you’re being vulnerable. It’s so beautiful and it fills my heart and reminds me of why I’m sharing.”
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#this_is_postpartum • I was a couple years into my infertility journey when a close friend called me in pure devastation because her baby was breach and she was going to have to have a c-section. She had a birth plan and she was terrified of surgery itself, not to mention the c-section recovery and what it would mean for her body. • I wish I could tell you I understood and empathized with her, but more than anything I was jealous. I would have had 10 c-sections just to have a baby. It didn’t matter what would happen to my body, what the recovery looked like, I just wanted to be a Mom. Perhaps I was the wrong person to share those struggles with. • “For every woman unhappy with her postpartum marks, there is one wishing she had them.” • I once was her, the "one," waiting, wishing, hoping to be a Mother. Finding out I was finally going to be a Mom was one most incredible feelings. It didn't matter whether I was going to give birth naturally or have a cesarean. And it didn't matter that my body was going to change drastically. I was finally going to be a Mom, let alone to triplets. • And as expected my body changed quite drastically. But I also changed. I see more beauty now than I ever have before in my own flesh and skin. My body represents the power of the female body and the miracle of carrying three babies. • There is empowerment for yourself in loving yourself. Our postpartum marks are stories of hope, stories of love, and sadly, sometimes stories of loss. There is so much beauty in our Mom bodies because above all they represent life, our children, and the undeniable love we have for them. Yet, they are often incredibly hard for us to love at times. • Shifting your perspective is incredibly important. Finding value and self love in who your are is a gift. Celebrating your body for exactly what it is is one of the most liberating feelings. • To the woman who carried a baby in her womb, you are postpartum. I am postpartum. Together we rise and celebrate postpartum bodies because there is ALWAYS beauty there. And sometimes we simply need to find it. • This is postpartum, and so is @katiemcrenshaw 💕
‘They Are Beautiful, No Matter What Society Tells Them’
Bethanie Garcia was inspired by her husband and children to view her body the way they did, like it was perfect. “Once I forced myself to believe that I was beautiful, I started seeing everything in a different light and started that whole journey of self love and self worth,” the mother of four said. Garcia wants to help create a world in which her daughters can feel beautiful without unattainable standards. She wants women to know that “they are beautiful, no matter what society tells them or what they look like.”
Before her fourth child was born, Garcia experienced a first-trimester miscarriage. The loss was not only physically and emotionally traumatic but she says it created a sense of failure. Miscarriage is common — around 10% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage — but Garcia says that even though she knew this, it still felt like her body had failed her.
She decided to post about her loss and received thousands of messages from women saying they had felt shame or failure because of their own miscarriages. Garcia heard from women that had never told anyone other than their partners, “The response helped me feel a lot less alone.”
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#this_is_postpartum⠀ ⠀ While looking for some old photos in my camera roll the other night, I came across some really disturbing images that literally took my breath away. I could barely breathe for a few seconds as I realized that the woman in these images was drowning in postpartum depression and anxiety, obsessed with her weight, constantly stepping on the scale and hating herself, taking photos of her stomach every single day just praying to see a difference, starving herself, trying all the latest fads like waist trainers and tummy teas…⠀ ⠀ She had two baby girls. She had a husband that loved her. And yet, she hated every single thing about herself. I look back on these images and I can see the sadness in her eyes. I can feel her pain through the screen. I look at her body and I want to shake her and scream "YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. YOU ARE ENOUGH."⠀ ⠀ So here is my before and after (and not like the ones you normally see here on Instagram). Before, I was depressed and anxious. I was disgusted with my body and obsessed with my weight. I was on a journey to lose inches and pounds and be skinny again.⠀ ⠀ And now I'm on a journey of self love and acceptance. I still have insecurities, but I am grateful for my body and my only current goals are to be happy and healthy.⠀ ⠀ I ditched the scale. I ditched the waist trainer. I ditched the teas and the wraps. I set out to love and accept my skin and stretch marks and extra weight.⠀ ⠀ For the past several months, as I've been on this journey, I've been saying I'm Sorry to my body and myself.⠀ ⠀ Today, I say… I Forgive You.⠀ ⠀ Head to @taydools for her #this_is_postpartum story. ♥️
‘It’s Those Messages That Remind Me That It’s Worth It’
For Meg Boggs and these 25 women, the only way to normalize postpartum experiences is to be transparent, raw and continue the conversation. Sometimes, there are people that try to bring them down and cause pain with their words but Boggs says that, “I can get hundreds of negative comments but it’s that one message that I’ll get, even if it’s just the one that says ‘This is what I needed to see today,’ it’s those messages that remind me that it’s worth it.”
Written by Karol Brinkley for CNN.
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