In our society, women are finally learning to celebrate their postpartum bodies. All over Instagram, Moms are sharing their stretch marks and saggy skin with pride. The movement is powerful, encouraging new Moms with postpartum depression to love what they see in the mirror, instead of cringing with disgust. Sadly our celebration of a women’s postpartum body is also creating a body shaming movement that needs to end.
Women, especially Moms, should never be afraid to address their feelings of insecurities.
I’ve been scared to reveal my insecurities with my own postpartum body due to my experiences with body shaming. I can’t recall the first time I heard a snarky comment from someone after having my first child. It’s happened so many times I lost track, not just from strangers, but friends and family too. I’ve heard it all: “You’re too thin.” “Did you even have a baby?” “Who was the surrogate?” “Are you eating enough?” “You should eat more.” While women who have extra weight after a baby are body shamed is common, it’s important to recognize women with the opposite problem are body shamed too.
The unsolicited comments about my weight loss after pregnancy (which was a result of breastfeeding by the way) have changed me. I learned to be the first to make a remark about my body in new environments to avoid feeling uncomfortable. I joke about my daughters stealing my womanly curves for themselves or liken myself to having the swimsuit body of a little boy. All of the body shaming I’ve experienced has made me even more aware of how much I’ve changed since having children.
My skin has thinned and stretched all over my body with age and multiple pregnancies. I see veins I never knew existed, can fit a quarter in my belly button, and find long hairs growing where they don’t belong. My postpartum body isn’t ideal nor is it perfect. BUT, I haven’t stepped on a scale in months and I don’t obsessively visit the gym. I’m not entirely unhappy with what I see when I look in the mirror.
Let me ask all you Moms a question: “Do you really love your body?” I think I am learning how to love mine. I used to despise my body before I had children, but I know I should appreciate every inch with the utmost respect. My body carried two beautiful little babies safely for nine months and helped me bring them into this world. For the sake of my daughters, I want them to know I’m comfortable in the skin I’m in. So what if my stomach isn’t perfect, my boobs have disappeared and my butt is flat. Isn’t that what motherhood is all about? Learning to love the imperfections?
Caitlin Houston is a Connecticut based life and style blogger.