At first I shied away from the idea … me? Bare? I mean, I did it once … kind of, in my birthing photos. But that was different. The focus was on my pregnant belly and new baby – that’s always beautiful, it represents the miracle of birth. But the 10 month later view? Not as pretty. Or is it …
I decided to give it a go, to pose with Max and my Mom. To reveal what’s real. To be vulnerable and share what having a little one really looks like, not what the magazines say it should look like.
Was I nervous? Yes. Did I worry what people would think? Yes. Did I wait 3 months to share here? Yep, I did. Actually, I never intended to share here. I mean, not everything I do makes the ol’ blog. But I got to thinking the other week that the whole reason I participated was to give postpartum motherhood a real visual. One with stretch marks and distorted belly buttons and loose skin.
And yes, I know that these photos will be around forever. My kids will see them. Shoot, a lot of people I know in real life will see them. And I’m okay with that. Motherhood has marked me and I’m proud to showcase it.
Being confident in myself is so much more than believing in and projecting a positive self-image. It’s the environment I want my children to flourish in. I want Jemma to grow up knowing that beauty transforms over the years. That she can have pride in herself and her body no matter the stage she is in. I want Max to see women as beautiful because of their “flaws”, not in spite of them. I want them to know that conception and pregnancy and birth is a miracle. That it changes people for the better. Always. For me, that’s what the Beauty Revealed Project boils down to.
The Beauty Revealed Project has plans for a book publication. When our photos were submitted to the coordinator we were asked to send a paragraph about our experiences. For posterity, here’s what my mama and I sent in:
From me …
I’ve never felt more beautiful than when I was pregnant. It’s such a unique experience to have such a treasure growing inside. A little person, moving, rolling, hiccuping, kicking – building a priceless relationship long before we ever lock eyes. Yes, pregnancy is a miracle and an experience I’ll always cherish. Birth too. Wow. It doesn’t get any more real than that! My daughter arrived on October 2, 2010 – quite awhile after my water broke on September 30th. Birth was the hardest thing I’d ever done. I had proud peaks and depressed valleys during Jemma’s transition earth side. Overall, I was overjoyed, obviously – my babe in arms was more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. The perfect addition to our family. 16 months later, I was blessed to see two pink lines that meant pregnancy and birth were on my horizon again. On August 9, 2012 my sweet, 10 pound Max arrived. Truly, he arrived before anyone was ready. In a swift 2 hours and 20 minutes after my water broke, Max said hello to the morning with just his Daddy, our doula and birth photography (the same lovely one who took my Beauty Revealed Project photos). Our midwife was still on the road to us!
After two babies I’ve been changed inside and out. My heart is now a mother’s heart and my body is now a mother’s body. My heart has grown exponentially and I love more than I ever thought possible. There is no doubt I’ve changed the most in my core. But the outside is what the world sees – my scars and tributes to the journey of motherhood I’ve been on. I have fading stripes, a hernia that may need surgery, lackluster abs, milk-laden breasts, sleepy eyes and extra pounds. And since all those things are a result of my precious children, they’re beautiful and I’ll never wish them away.
From me, about my mama …
I’ve never once heard my mom say course words about her c-section scar. She always spoke of it like a story, “This is where you and your sisters came from …” and she would proceed with our birth stories. It would end with a hug and snuggle and I would look at that wound – now 27 years old, but still prominent on her belly. I remember thinking, and still do today, “Wow, my mom must really love me. To sacrifice her body on top of everything else she does for me.” Most of her scar is numb to the touch and she doesn’t wear a bikini. Well until our Beauty Revealed Project photo shoot. That day, seeing my mom smile, I saw years of beauty flash before my eyes. No matter the clothes she has worn or the hairstyle she’s had, she has carried herself with grace. When I think of real beauty, I think of her. When I think about becoming more beautiful, I dwell on ways I can become more like her. Her scars and wrinkles are milestones of beautiful victories. My mom is the perfect example of true beauty revealed.
From my mama …
I am 55 years old. I am a Mom. And now I am a “Mimi”. My body has changed, my mind has changed….I have been changed. My three beautiful daughters have played a significant part in those changes. They have stretched me. Yes, my body was stretched during pregnancy; but, even deeper, they have stretched me in who I have become as a woman. Over the years, my girls have stretched my patience, my confidence has grown, endurance has been pushed to its very limit and my dependence on God has been solidified. My daughters have made me who I am; both on the outside and inside. It’s a beautiful thing what our children do for us, and I am forever grateful.
What do you think about the Beauty Revealed Project? Would you ever participate? How has motherhood changed you?
This post was just lovely. Perfectly put. I have never felt as beautiful or confident as I do now as a mom to 3 year old twins. They have taught me true happiness & that makes me feel beautiful. You go, mama!
That is amazing! Seriously! You are so brave and fantastic!
I'm going to showcase this in my Weekly Round UP on Sunday if that's ok?
Way to go, G and Mimi. Baring your tiger stripes just gives the rest of us more courage to love ourselves too.
Of course! Thank you so much :)
this is so beautiful Gretchen!
i love this project!
WOW…..you have truly inspired me! I was literally online searching for something to take away my saggy/loose skin from having a baby about 8 months ago and I feel depressed about it. The BPR is really an inspirational thing. I have though come across a skin tightening soak that I am thinking about trying. I really just want to tone up my tummy a bit more, even if it only works a little, I think it would do wonders for my self esteem! I'll let you know how it goes ;)
I love this project, and I love that you've shared what's real. Good for you and your Mama!
you photos are so lovely. they show a story of life, which in it's self is amazing!!You have inspired me to believe that my body is beautiful too, even after giving birth to 3 kidsNatasha @ Serenity You
I'm so happy it was inspiring to you :) It totally takes a change of perspective to see our bodies in a new light! Hugs mama!