I found this great website called the Shape of a Mother. It’s my private little addiction. I pop along to this site and read the blog updates and look at the images.
The idea of it is that the author/owner of the blog noticed a mom with a babe, and when the mom’s shirt lifted by accident she realized this very healthy and toned looking mom also was sitting with extra skin hanging around her belly. Yes, I realise it could also have been me – you probably thought the same thing.
The blog owner had this epiphany that the post-pregnancy body has become one of our society’s greatest secrets.
What we are exposed to is the female form airbrushed perfectly. I used to work for the company that did the pre-press work on Shape, Fit Pregnancy and Swimsuit Magazine – all those girls were airbrushed to an inch of her life.
I would have loved to nab the pre-air-brushed photos and smuggle them out there for the world to see. I am not denying that the models are beautiful and can really fill out a swimsuit, but you must know they have pimples, and stretch marks and cellulite and marks under their arms like no one’s business.
If you look at yourself in the mirror and it differs from these images that we are bombarded with all day – you tend to opt to wear a bigger shirt, start layering a little more, and hide your body as much as you can. Well that is what I do at any rate.
We talk openly about our sagging or flattened boobs, our wobbly thighs, our expanses of cellulite, our hanging tums and our stretch marks, but god-forbid anyone sees them.
So this very clever woman created this excellent website where women of all ages, shapes, sizes and nationalities can share images of their bodies so it will no longer be secret. Almost like a blog, but populated by visitors.
To quote directly from her website: “So we can finally see what women really look like sans airbrushes and plastic surgery.
I think it would be nothing short of amazing if a few of our hearts are healed, or if we begin to cherish our new bodies which have done so much for the human race. What if the next generation grows up knowing how normal our bodies are? How truly awesome would that be?”
http://theshapeofamother.com/ even has categories marked Belly, Breasts, Cesareans, Child Loss, Infertility, Inspirational, Plus-Sized, Postpartum, Pregnant, Twins, Triplets and VBAC.
It really is a wonderful website and the women are real, and we recognize these bodies as our own. Women write in honest terms about how their bodies have changed, and the photos are taken sans great lighting and often without good photographic techniques, so it is real flab, butt-cracks and cellulite.
While I celebrate these women, and nod along to all the comments, I can barely look at myself in the bathroom mirror when I get undressed to shower or bath.
When I sit in the bath with Isabelle, I feel ill that my stomach sort of rolls over and rests itself on my upper thigh while I play with her.
Last night I looked down at my c-section scar and got a bit of a fright as it looked big and really red and ugly – but I was drinking a glass of wine, and there was a candle, so the lighting and my perception was a bit off. But I had this immediate feeling of revulsion and sat up in a panic to re-examine it. It was still a scar, still red, yugh, but maybe not totally revolting, okay well maybe just mildly so.
I used to be okay with my body – I was not out there pole dancing or anything, but I would put on a costume when it was hot, and go for a swim. I would not scream “look at me, look at me” but I could get myself in a swimsuit and a pair or shorts when the weather demanded it.
Now I crinch at the thought of pouring myself into my swimsuit, even when at home just with Kennith and the kids. It is not about them seeing me, it is about me seeing me.
I hide from myself. I dress and undress quickly, so I do not have to witness the white blubbery me. I hate the fact that I used to weight 50kg, and used to hate being skinny. Now I would drink 5 days of gloop a day, and 7 tons of laxatives to get back to 50kg.
My body is different and I really do not like it.
I know I should be thankful that this body has been good to me. It is seldom sick, it can stand up to quite a bit. It carried three healthy children through three healthy pregnancies. It was strong enough to get through three c-sections, it healed well, and did not let me stay in too much pain.
It let me breastfeed without any problems. When I did not want to breastfeed it made the milk just go away. It let me get through bouts of depression without totally giving out on me. My skin has stretched to make room for these children and the growing me, and it has done it with eloquence and grace, and done me the favour of doing it without one stretch mark (I know, I am shocked too).
I should laud it and praise it, instead I despise it.
I am embarrassed.
I am angry.
I am scared that this is now who I am. What I see in the mirror does not match who I see in my head.
I have contributed to it’s demise. It did not get here without the help of a several bowls of delicious pasta, bags of divine Woolworths Chuckles and several litres of wonderful wine. I am the reason this body is the way it is, and that makes me very angry.
I huff and puff my way through boot camp and hate being there. Every gasp and gag is fueled by anger. I do not want to be this fat, cellulite, scarred person – I want to be svelt and 20 years old (but I would like to keep my mature mind …)
There I am flicking through these images of women being real on shape of a mother, and still I am hiding behind my baggy black shirt. Why does this bother me more today than it did yesterday?
Today I am trying on wedding dresses in front of strangers. That means my body is going to be on display – as you cannot get into these dresses without help. That means I am going to be trying to corset myself up into a dress that is going to make my fat roll over the top and my hips putting a bit of strain on the stitching.
Another day, in another place, I can post about who I love my body, or even like it – but not today.