As moms we tend to be placed into 3 categories based upon our size: skinny, medium (average), and plus size. Once we are categorized, moms of all sizes are pinned against one another by the media. We are led to believe that one group is more privileged and we’re meant to idolize the “Skinny Hollywood celebrity bounces back to her pre-baby body 2 minutes after giving birth”. Meanwhile, medium size moms are made to feel like they are forever walking a tightrope between what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable. Finally, plus size moms exist in a society that often shames them, their actions and, of course, their bodies.
We’re here to acknowledge that moms of all sizes struggle with body image and self-love. While you might not completely identify with each Dear Mom Letter written below, it’s our hope that you’ll develop a deeper understanding of the postpartum struggles many of us moms face.
Dear Skinny Mom,
On the outside you have a body many admire. A body that looks unchanged by pregnancy. Yet, dear skinny mom, we know you are changed! Your tiny body felt the pain of bones spreading to make room for your baby. You may fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans but they never feel quite right ever again. On the outside, you “went back to normal” but, underneath your clothes, your skin is different and bulges came where there were none before. You also probably had a round postpartum belly for much longer than your medium and plus size mom friends. While others see a body society equates with perfection, you look in the mirror and see a body you sometimes struggle to recognize. We know the struggle, and we see you.
Dear Medium Size Mom,
You’re not fat but you’re not thin either. You don’t look like celebrity moms nor are you all luscious and full like your larger counterparts. Where do you fit exactly? You’re probably a size or two larger than you were before having babies and you feel like your body is about the same proportionally but it’s all so very different too. The skin on your belly sags and you find yourself pulling your yoga pants up and over your pooch multiples time a day. You feel as though your body is healthy but it doesn’t so much look like the fitspiration you’re pinning for motivation to move it. You’re torn between staying here at this size and weight and making more of an effort to be the skinny mom you think you could be… if you just tried harder. We know the struggle, and we see you.
Dear Plus Size Mom,
Pregnancy was a time of happiness and worry. While you were thrilled to be growing life within you, you were also fearful of developing complications during pregnancy because of your weight. You were made to feel different and questioned if people could even tell that you were pregnant. When your belly finally popped, you were overjoyed! Postpartum might’ve come with a surprising drop in weight back to your pre-baby body well before your skinny and medium size mom friends. There might be a few new stretchmarks where you already had marks to begin with. Yet, the emotional marks of being made to feel different during pregnancy and childbirth run much deeper. We know the struggle, and we see you.
Dear Moms of All Sizes,
From the skinny to the medium and of course the plus size mom, every body is changed during pregnancy! It’s time to stop allowing the media to pin us against one another. We each, at one time or another feel unworthy, undesirable, and unsure of how to reconnect with and love our bodies. Our feelings are not isolated. We all come in different body sizes, united by motherhood!
The next time you want to tell your skinny mom friend how jealous you are of her postpartum body…pause.
The next time you want to tell your medium mom friend how thin she looks in her new skinny jeans…pause.
And the next time you wonder if your plus size mom friend can have a healthy pregnancy…pause.
We owe it to ourselves and to one another to stop the judgments and comparing ourselves to one another. This motherhood journey is hard enough without also feeling the need to shame our bodies and the bodies of those we love.
One body type isn’t better than another. These are simply our bodies. Our beautifully shaped, imperfectly marked, and lovely lumped bodies!!!
All photos are courtesy of the photographer, Ashlee Wells Jackson of the 4th Trimester Bodies Project.