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Real Postpartum Mom Bodies, Real Beauty

Pregnancy and childbirth spark a wide range of feelings for most of us about ourselves and our bodies—everything from appreciation and celebration to horror and self-loathing, and all that lies in between. And, for all that we see of celebs’ teeny-weeny postpartum bikini bodies, we rarely catch an up-close-and-personal glimpse of real moms’ bodies after a babe has wreaked its havoc (except for the tremendously awesome site The Shape of a Mother, filled with unflinching, beautiful photos of pregnant and postpartum bodies—note, it’s not appropriate viewing for work). I mean, how many of us are proudly sporting our pregnancy “tiger stripes” (stretch marks) as the badges of honor they are? 

The Shape of a Mother

And so, with the same appreciation I feel toward women who nurse in public, showing everyone just how normal, natural—and beautifulbreastfeeding is, I was near (happy) tears when I stumbled across artist Erin Darcy’s gorgeous photos the other day on her blog, Starving Artist Ink. In an entry called, “the shape of a mother,” Erin, a native of Oklahoma living in Ireland who had earlier blogged about her struggle with PCOS-related infertility, posted a handful of photos her husband had taken of her a several weeks after the birth of their daughter, accompanied only by the strong, sweet message, “you are beautiful, do you know that? and your imperfections make you even more perfect.”

She writes in a follow-up post, accompanied by a self-portrait: 

i'm a mama…
my body is so imperfect and soft and sexy in a different way. in a real way… in a way that my husband grabs me and wants me. in a powerful way that- i carried life, i gave birth, and i nourish this babe.  in a way that- i know i look more like you and less like airbrushed images. genuine and honest and imperfectly perfect.

“being vulnerable can be powerful.  loving yourself can be even more.
you don't have to get naked and take pictures of yourself.  you don't have to be brave.
just start with compassion. for. yourself.
open your eyes wide and see the bigger picture. see beyond what stands in the mirror.”

If it’s not too late for New Year’s resolutions (it’s still January, right?), Erin has inspired me to take a less critical and more appreciative look at my own body, saggy boobs and all, that has grown and nurtured two little boys over the past few years.

Moms, what do you love about your pregnant or postpartum bodies?