Please note: Some of the images on the sites and in the video I link to in this story contain nudity. Nothing is graphic (imho) but you may not want to view them at work.
Starting with pregnancy, mothers often have to adjust to some big changes in their bodies. Becoming a mother is a joyous time but one that is often also fraught with anxiety. I know that I was worried. How would pregnancy change my body? How much weight would I gain? Would I be able to lose it? What if I need a c-section? Will I be one of the lucky ones who just bounce back? Or will my former body be lost to me forever?
Every story is unique but most women have to make peace with their new, post-pregnancy bodies and breastfeeding. My stomach is the cause of my insecurities. I had a c-section that became infected. As such, my scar is less than ideal. Also, as hard as I workout, my tummy still wrinkles when I bend and move. Why this is true for me and not Heidi Klum, who gave birth to 3 more children than I did, I don’t know. It’s just my new reality. And yes, in a society that is filled with images of perfect, airbrushed women, the changes do make me feel a bit insecure.
The other day, I discovered A Beautiful Body Project thanks to this video a friend of mine posted on Facebook. The images are stunning, real, and familiar. They are all black and white, unretouched photos of mothers, complete with pregnant bellies, stretch marks, wrinkled skin, and emptied breasts. They are representations of what a real mother’s body looks like and they are gorgeous.
The Beautiful Body Project began when photographer Jade Beall posted images of her own postpartum body on her website. She then followed with this stunning image of a friend:
The response was overwhelming. Many, many women sent emails of support, shared their stories, and asked to be photographed. The Beautiful Body Project was born. The project is summed up on the site as a “movement of women coming together to tell their stories and celebrate their ever-changing bodies so that future generations of women can live free from self-suffering.”
Beall is compiling the images of the women she photographs and their thoughts on beauty as relating to motherhood into a book. Some of the stories are uplifting, others are heartbreaking but all are unique to the experience of being a mother. Beall shoots the women for free and hopes to fund the project and book with the help of the regular Jane as opposed to corporate backing.
You can help by pre-ordering the book. If you are short on cash and still want to show your support, Beall shares 8 free ways to help including spreading the word. I know I’ll be sharing this article and hopefully the message that we are all beautiful. ‘Cause we are.