10 photos that celebrate and honour ‘imperfect’ post-baby bodies

These bodies gave life, and that's nothing to be ashamed of.

Photo: Courtesy of @SHE_PLUSFIVE

Body positivity doesn’t come naturally to a lot of women. Whether it’s because of the images we’ve long been fed through advertising and social media, or personal hang ups carried over from childhood and puberty, looking confidently into the camera lens can be terrifying—especially after pregnancy. But something is changing. Amidst the filtered-to-perfection photos, a new reality is emerging. Today’s Parent investigated this trend in our May/June 2019 print issue. Thanks to hashtags like #this_is_postpartum and #everywomanisanangel, inspiring images like the ones below are making their way into Instagram feeds—and we’re here for it.

1. “My stomach is still flowered with stretch marks and extra skin. Just perfect for curious little hands to tug and pull.”

2. “I know there are women who don’t bounce back to slim bellies after pregnancy + cry when they look in the mirror like I did today.”

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This morning, I cried as I was changing + looking at myself in the mirror. Since I woke up today, I was just off and feeling some sort of way. But it was like looking at my reflection + seeing this body I barely know was the cherry on top of my bad day. I’ve gained almost 50 pounds in 1.5 years. Between trying to get pregnant + fertility treatments + being pregnant, my body has been through so much. But all day, I kept thinking about the #this_is_postpartum movement I saw on my friend Bethanie’s @thegarciadiaries page. Scrolling through the hashtag feed, I felt empowered to take pride in my body. And even though I feel so vulnerable for putting this out there, I am PROUD of this body that grew a perfect little human being. I don’t know if or when these stretch marks will go away. I don’t know when I’ll be 50 pounds lighter. I don’t know if anyone notices my double chin as much as I do. But I do know there are women who don’t bounce back to slim bellies after pregnancy + cry when they look in the mirror like I did today. I’m trying to be kinder to myself, but it’s so dang hard. I say that I’m giving myself grace and that I’m okay in this body, but most days I’m really not. I’m thankful for a husband that is there for me during my dark days + reminds me WHY my body looks the way it does. Because of Layla. And l wouldn’t trade that old body for this baby girl any damn day. So, fellow mama, hating on her postpartum body, I encourage you to rock your mom-bod + love yourself. Or try to, just like I am. 🧡

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3. “I was so concerned about what I looked like that I went as far as getting this ugly tattoo to try to cover it up, to try to cover up evidence of my babies. “

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I'm gonna share my story….I had my first kid 12 yrs ago,I was in my 20s and I was young and my body bounced right back and I was amazed then I had my 2nd baby 3 yrs after and this time it wasn't exactly bouncing back and this time I had stretch marks and loose skin and was horrified. I was so concerned about what I looked like that I went as far as getting this ugly tattoo to try to cover it up,to try to cover up evidence of my babies. That wasnt good enough I still hated what I saw in the mirror I began to workout and count calories. Kept a food journal, punished myself for eating… like wtf?!?! I was down to 90lbs yes 90lbs! Everytime I ate I told myself I need to workout I was training 3x a day and eating less than 1000 calories and that is not healthy at all. I became exhausted,depressed,I didn't want to live that way anymore. So I stopped just stopped everything and started enjoying life again. Gained weight and was ok. Fast forward to last yr I had my 3rd baby at the age of 37 and was almost 200lbs at the end of that pregnancy. My heaviest I've ever been! I was so happy to finally have my boy after 2 girls but I became emotional,angry, irrational. I cried so many times behind a closed door over everything. My weight,my life, my sadness. I started talking about it and it has been helping and now I see all these beautiful mamas share their stories and it made me inspired to share mine and stand up for myself and all the other women. Thank you @meg.boggs @thegarciadiaries and all the other women who have shared❤ #this_is_postpartum #honestmotherhood #rawmotherhood #reallife #momlife #motherhood #postpartum #postpartumdepression #igmotherhood #momentsinmotherhood

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4. “The reality is that my body is strong and beautiful.”

5. “I’m sharing so that you know it’s ok to share too.⁣”

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Can we truth speak for a minute?⁣ ⁣ I don't share these photos because I want some sort of validation that I'm "ok". I actually quite know I am! I didn't always, and that's cool too. ⁣ ⁣ Honestly? It's not about me at all. ⁣ Brave? not really.⁣ But important? yes.⁣ ⁣ Because I believe in the power of sharing.⁣ I believe in women believing in THEMSELVES.⁣ I want you to feel normal in your body, even if it means sharing a little loose post-partum, post-weightloss skin hanging down so we can all just smile and go "ha! life!" and move on with our days. ⁣ ⁣ I want you to believe that you are actually really incredible and lovely and desirable and unique. I want you to KNOW you're not alone so that this BEAST of negativity living in your mind constantly telling you that you're not enough, ugly, gross, weird, can go suffocate and die in our waves of positivity and love.⁣ ⁣ I want you to UNLEARN the things that society has taught you.⁣ I want you to tap into a new stream of consciousness that just honors your body for a hot second or two and doesn't get hung up over things that should not define you.⁣ ⁣ I'm sharing so that you know it's ok to share too.⁣ And by share, I don't mean you have to go and take pictures and post them on the internet. I mean, you can (please tag me if you do so I can throw some "holla" hands up in the comments).⁣ But by share, I mean…even just for you. Take a moment and just run your hand over it, smile, give it love. Stand proudly in the mirror. Honor your freaking badass body and move on with your day, with your memories, with your very important things that ARE NOT THIS.⁣ ⁣ I'm sharing so that you don't waste the precious moments of your day and life and thoughts wrapped up in feeling like less because your body did a thing and showed for it.⁣ ⁣ I think we're doing just fine. ⁣ Our bodies, doing things, showing for it, but still showing up and being our badass selves that we DESERVE to be. ⁣ ⁣ *CONFIDENCE* my friends. Eat it for breakfast, wear it all day long.

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6. “No I’m not ugly, no I’m not gross… No I refuse to think I don’t work hard enough.”

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Self. Consciousness! The. Whole. Truth. As if there aren't already enough pressure on how I should feel about myself, I worry about what the world says about me…. Or think about me. I'm holding my soft squishy belly thinking "how much harder do I need to work at this?"…. And you know what I already work hard enough. I already give it my all. This morning while I was feeling my lowest from struggling mentally and in this space I was told "gosh you're beautiful" by a complete random stranger. I instantly remember my words from last week; knowledge a compliment. I blushed and said "thank you so kindly" with a smile. The "old me" would have said: what? I have no makeup on… I haven't washed my hair in days and I wearing the biggest (only) sweater since I ran out of clothes cause my dryer has been broken for days… And I feel bloated af cause I haven't had a normal 💩 in days. TMI? Well…. The "me" holding my belly vanished almost immediately… It didn't matter. It was all in my head… No I'm not ugly, no I'm not gross… No I refuse to think I don't work hard enough. YES. I'M. BEAUTIFUL! So there… I may have low moments but know that I always find a way back to being my beautiful self and I'll continue to show you both sides. Biggest hugs my friends. #teamself #postpartum #thisispostpartum #this_is_postpartum #postpartumbody #postpartumdepression #honormybody #honestmotherhood #motherhoodsimplified #motherhoodunplugged #motherhoodunhinged #ig_motherhood #inspirepregnancy #takebackpostpartum #shape #transformationtuesday #postpartumfitness #postpartumbelly #postpartumhealth #postpartumsupport

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7. “This is for you. This is for us. You are seen. You are worthy. You are enough.”

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This skin grew and stretched out many years ago. Then it shriveled down as much as it possibly could when it had every fad thrown it’s way. Not long after, this skin grew and stretched out once again to create room for my favorite tiny human to grow. And here is that same skin now. Accompanied by marks and rolls and cellulite. It isn’t the kind of skin you’ll see in ads. And most likely not on any magazine covers. When and if you do, it will spark controversy and send the internet into a frenzy. Forcing anyone who looks like this to feel less than and like they shouldn’t be allowed to be anything but invisible. But we’re out here living. Women and mothers like me. Searching for the key to self-love and accepting our bodies without being forced to morph into the ads and magazine covers. And searching for the healthy balance of changing our bodies without reaching a point of hating it into that change. So for the woman and mama who doesn’t see herself in the ad. Or on the magazine cover. Who struggles looking in the mirror. Who beat herself up after having the dessert. Who didn’t bounce back. Who missed her workout. Who didn’t reach her goal this time. Who decided not to go because of the swimsuit. Who cried in the dressing room. Who just doesn’t feel like herself lately. This is for you. This is for us. You are seen. You are worthy. You are enough. You are so much more than the way you look. #this_is_postpartum

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8. “I’ve decided to love myself completely because I’m not defined by the loose skin or the stretch marks.”

9. “Seeing more “real body” posts = normalizing.⁣”

10. “It didn’t happen overnight but I love my stretch marks and this body that held my incredible son.”

Read more:
Revealing photos of ‘mom bods’ is a trend we should all get behind
Body beautiful: Celebrating the postpartum body

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