Motherhood is beautiful. But sometimes, as moms, it can be hard to see that beauty within ourselves.
Which is where Jenna and Aimee Hobbs of Hobbs Photography come in. The Hobbs sisters have made it their mission to show mothers how beautiful they are through their photo series, “A Mother’s Beauty.”
Jenna, 31, is a mom of four kids six and under — including a set of twins — and Aimee, 34, is a mother and stepmother of four. They both live and work in Alberta, Canada and fell in love with photography after having children.
But as they began photographing families, they soon noticed a rather disturbing trend: the mothers completely avoided the camera.
“Over time, we began noticing that more and more mamas would either only want their children photographed, or when we sent them their galleries of images didn’t want any of the images with themselves in them,” the Hobbs sisters explain to Babble. “This just breaks my heart … we mamas are the centre of our kids’ whole universe — we’re their mothers — and that in itself is incredibly beautiful and definitely worthy of being documented and treasured.”
So the Hobbs women decided to start their own series dedicated to capturing the beauty of mothers on camera. “We set out to photograph real women and their children to push back against this era of fad diets and air brushing to show what real moms look like and hopefully make a little bit of difference, no matter how small,” they explain.
When they initially put a call out on their Facebook page to gauge interest, Aimee says that they were a bit surprised to see how willing women were to be photographed.
“This year, our spaces filled within one hour which I think is a huge testament to how powerfully women relate to this idea,” she says. “They’ve had enough of being told they’re not enough. They don’t believe it anymore and they definitely want a different experience for their own children.”
Jenna and Aimee believe that labeling what is “beautiful” about a woman’s body is damaging, because it doesn’t usually include the physical ways that motherhood can change our bodies. “The reality is that a lot (I’ve read that it’s around 90%) of women get stretch marks through pregnancy, yet I have never seen one pregnancy related magazine showing so much as a hint of a stretch mark on a cover,” notes Aimee. “Of course that is going to have an impact on women.”
“I think the big myth is that society, from when we were little girls, put labels on what is beautiful and what we should strive for,” she says. “After we have babies our bodies just don’t look the same. We are often shamed into hiding what isn’t consider ‘typical beauty’ — stretch marks, lumps, bumps, curves and scars. It’s a myth that this is not beautiful. These mothers are beautiful and we just want to show them that.”
And the changes of motherhood aren’t always physical. Jenna tells the story of one mother who felt like she couldn’t participate in the project because she didn’t have any scars, excess baby weight, stretch marks or any other physical sign that she had given birth.
“I felt the same way four years ago when we first started the project,” explains Jenna. “However I was a mother, she is a mother. The effects of motherhood and childbirth are not always physical. She and I deserved to be a part of the project because we are mothers and we are beautiful in our own way.”
The physical changes are only one aspect, Aimee goes on to explain, and their photo series aims to capture the entire transformative experience of motherhood. “Year after year, it’s an affirmation that in many ways we are all the same and we’re not as alone in this journey as we sometimes feel,” she says.
Despite their own journeys capturing “A Mother’s Beauty” behind the camera, Aimee and Jenna aren’t immune to their own body-image issues.
“After one and two kids I didn’t have much traces of childbirth or motherhood,” says Jenna. “However I still struggled with body issues — being flat chested and [having] wrinkles. After having twins, my third and my fourth, my body is not the same as it used to be, however I am so much more accepting of my body. I love my body and I think I am beautiful.”
Aimee, meanwhile, was a self-described “total gym rat” before having kids. “I assumed I would get pregnant and just keep up my usual routine for most of my pregnancy, have my baby and resume life as normal,” she says, followed by a hearty LOL.
“They say life gives you what you need and pregnancy was a big eye-opener for me. I had brutal ‘morning sickness’ that lasted all day everyday and could only be combated by keeping my stomach mostly full and avoiding any kind of smells. I felt like I was not in control of my body and couldn’t do so many of the activities I loved so much. However, I still thought I would have my baby and life would resume and things would get back to normal. It was a rude awakening. My boobs were three times the size of my baby’s head and I didn’t just bounce back despite resuming exercise. When I got pregnant with my second, I really began to appreciate my body and what it was capable of. Is my body the same as it was prior to my boys being born? Absolutely not. But, I love my body more now than ever.”
In the end, the sisters say that their goal is to showcase real women and their real stories.
“There is beauty in stories, stories that all of us carry with us everyday,” says Jenna. “Beauty is not a one size fits all thing — it is multifaceted and can be found everywhere. There is nothing more beautiful than a mother loving her child.”
“A Mother’s Beauty,” say these sisters, comes from the fact that motherhood, in itself, is a beautiful experience.
“Creating a human being. It and it happens every single day,” says Jenna. “How we grow so big and provide everything this baby needs. Then produce milk. Then deliver. [It’s] amazing what a woman’s body [can do].”
“The whole act of growing a human is simply amazing and almost beyond comprehension,” echoes Aimee. “An everyday miracle that transcends age, ethnicity, and social class and provides a common thread that binds us all.”
The sisters say that they feel grateful to see the mothers they photograph open their eyes to their own true beauty.
“Seeing themselves not look like the cover of the magazine, but loving themselves [is] such a good feeling,” says Jenna.
The sisters are planning to put out their next call for mothers in the next week and they are hoping to represent an even more diverse group of mothers. “We would LOVE to diversify our sessions,” says Aimee.
For information on A Mother’s Beauty, visit their Facebook page.