Stretch marks, scars... moms bare all
With stretch marks, scars and dimples, they are women who come in all shapes and sizes.
But for these women that is exactly how they want it – without an airbrush in sight.
A mother-of-two has launched a website to allow women to show off their post-birth bodies and offer support to those struggling with their weight.
Theshapeofamother.com features dozens of photos of wonky breasts, close ups of C-sections, saggy stomachs and overhangs sent in by readers.
Alongside each are testimonials from mothers who bare their souls to tell of their battle with the baby bulge – or defiance in the face of it.
The website’s creator Bonnie Crowder says she wants to fight back against the pressure from celebrity mothers who get their figures back thanks to hours with their expensive personal trainer or trips to their plastic surgeon.
Victoria Beckham recently appeared in a lingerie photo shoot weeks after giving birth to daughter Harper Seven, claiming she got her rail-thin figure back by working out seven days a week.
A month after giving birth to Blue Ivy Carter, Beyonce stunned onlookers when she attended an event in New York in a red dress that gave no hint of an unwanted lump.
Crowder, from California, started the website after one day realising it was very wrong that she hated how she looked after giving birth to her last child.
She set up the website and initially she was not sure if it would do well – but so far 1 700 women have submitted entries.
She told MSNBC: “It occurred to me that a post-pregnancy body is one of this society’s greatest secrets; all we see of the female body is that which is airbrushed and perfect, and if we look any different, we hide it from the light of day in fear of being seen.
“That makes me want to cry. Sure, we all talk about the sagging boobs and other parts, but no one ever sees them.
“Or if they do, it’s in comical form, mocking the beauty that created and nourished our children.”
Among the most touching entries is the most recent by a woman who only identifies herself as “Ana”.
She is 24 and has had one baby, a daughter who is now four, but her saggy skin persists.
Under the title “Scared to look down” with a picture of her stomach, she writes: “I love my daughter with all that I have, but it doesn’t take away the fact that I am now 24 and I have a huge fear of wearing a bikini or two-piece bathing suit to the beach.
“I have spent hours and hours on Google looking at how amazing these celeb moms look a week after giving birth. It’s not fair.
“And it doesn’t end with celeb moms ... a lot of my friends and friends of friends who also have kids, got back their bodies intact – no stretch marks, no sag. why? I know we must learn to accept and wear our tiger stripes proudly but it’s so hard.”
A mother of an eight-month-old has also written on the site: “I feel as if I am disgusting, I look in the mirror and don’t even see myself any more. Every part of me has changed, everything. I want to love who I am, but I can’t.”
One of the most refreshing things about Shapeofamother.com is the support that comes from the comments.
Typical is the response to the article posted by “Ana” which reads: “You, and your beautiful belly, are Gorgeous!”
Psychiatrist Dr Gail Saltz told NBC that Crowder was doing a public service.
She said: “It gives you a more realistic expectation that counters all the celebrity moms that look fantabulous two weeks later.
“It’s one thing to know, another thing to see. Otherwise, you look down and you feel bad.” – Daily Mail