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The (Real) Shape of a Mother

By ceridwen |

Want to see the bodies of some real mothers? Not an air-brushed bikini babe in sight?

The Shape of a Mother is a place where mothers go to come to terms with their transforming/ed bodies. Here you will find hundreds and hundreds of photographs and stories posted by real women in various stages of motherhood. Some have toned torsos but most share their stretch marks or dimples or belly flaps or saggy boobs. There are round bodies, jiggly bodies and scarred bodies.

For a mostly anonymous mommy website, the tone here is unbelievably supportive. “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,” reads the home page mission statement.

Readers tell women who’ve come to expose their C-section scars and cellulite, you’re gorgeous! I love your pregnancy picture! Men are proud of their scars, why can’t we be proud of ours? One mother’s post about her sagging breasts is titled, “It is what it is!”

There’s a common refrain: “…but it was worth it.”

On the one hand, of course, your healthy baby was worth the stretch marks or separated stomach muscles or flaps of loose skin. On the other hand, if you feel like crap about your new body, does that amount to regretting your child?

A stronger point is made when women talk about the beauty of a mother’s body, reminding us that the evidence of pregnancy and birth doesn’t have to trigger revulsion.

I have a friend who has a rounded belly as a result of several births. She doesn’t make a big effort to cover it up — she’ll wear a regular semi-clingy tee-shirt or jersey dress and there’s the small mound. At first I was taken aback by her confidence. Most women worry over this stuff and, though you may notice a pooch, you’ll notice efforts to disguise it at the same time. To see my friend, belly out and proud, was very meaningful to me. She looks great. It’s a curve. And there she is with her kids and her work and all that she does and I think, that’s a gorgeous body. In fact, now I look at these rounded bellies — including my own — as a new kind of sexy. This is the kind of transformation The Shape of a Mother is hoping for.

This website is a place where women go to remind themselves that they are normal. Your story is not the same as everyone else’s, but you do share one thing with other mothers: You’ve been transformed.

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About ceridwen



Ceridwen Morris is a writer, mother, and certified childbirth educator. She is the author of several books and screenplays, including (Three Rivers; 2007). She serves on the board of The Childbirth Education Association of Metropolitan New York and teaches at Tribeca Parenting in New York City. Read bio and latest posts → Read Ceridwen's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “The (Real) Shape of a Mother

  1. Lucky says:

    Right on. I totally agree. I love my new round body.

  2. mandalafly says:

    My hips are circled by angel wings painted by the two cherubs that inhabited the space during their transistion from there to here. I am Grateful for the reminders.

  3. Jessica Zucker says:

    Thought you’d to be interested in checking out a related article I wrote about the politics of postpartum bodies:

  4. ceridwen says:

    Jessica– I LOVE all your articles at Huff Post! This one is really great. Thanks so much for linking.

  5. Jessica Zucker says:

    Thanks Ceridwen! Would love to discuss overlapping interests/writing… Any interest? Best, Jessica

  6. Robin Aronson says:

    I need to check out some of those articles, because I’m not a fan of the twin pouch. But some of the body stuff has to do with the aging side of parenthood. I’m not a fan of my 40-plus spine, either, which causes all kinds of problems for me (and has been made worse by schlepping kids…)

  7. Kiki La Roo says:

    Amen to this book!!! Brilliant!!

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