Recently I came across a website called The Shape Of a Mother which focuses on normalizing a woman’s shape, round bellies, saggy breasts, stretch marks and all. But one particular section caught my attention and had a profound affect on me, Save Our Daughters.
As a daughter and now the mother of a daughter, Save Our Daughters triggered a deep emotional reaction in me. I immediately thought of how often I had watched my mother look at her body in disgusts. The rolls, the stretch marks, the cesarean scars. Motherhood had changed her body from a once skinny young woman to something she was ashamed of.
I remember as a child being fascinated with my mother’s cesarean scars. It was amazing to me to look at that little line across the bottom of her abdomen and know that that was the place my sister and I had each been removed from her body. It would have been so easy for me to believe these were beautiful badges of love instead of unsightly scars of shame.
But that opportunity was missed and although I was skinny growing up and didn’t have the same weight issues my mother had, my sister did and I can only imagine how her own body views affected my sister. I know my mother did everything in her power to teach us to love and accept ourselves. But unfortunately, it was her inability to love and accept herself that was heard most clearly.
After I had my first baby, my body dramatically changed, like everyone’s does. My breasts got wider and saggier and my belly had a new shape and was covered in tons of deep stretch marks that I often said made it look like ground beef. I was not shy about telling everyone how wrecked my body was from having a child and it only got worse with my second. I had even thought about having my stretch marks removed once I was all done having kids. I didn’t see my new body as beautiful, I saw it the same way my mother had, ugly.
Then one day, I had been getting ready for bed and passed through the dark bathroom in front of the mirror. I stopped for a moment and looked in the mirror. There was just enough light to see the outline of my body, but not all the detail. I was surprised at the shape I saw in the mirror. If this had been anyone else’s body in front of me, I would have thought it was beautiful. The hips were wide and curvy, the breasts low and flat, yet feminine, and the bump of the belly looked like a mother. This was the body of someone who had brought life into this world and there was nothing ugly about it.
Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last long and I was quickly back to thinking my body was unattractive. I still have the same feeling about my body and that is something I will have to work on. But after reading Save Our Daughters, I want to make sure I don’t pass on my body issues to my daughter. I have made a promise to myself to never call my belly ground beef in front of her, even if I still think that sometimes. I will work hard to teach her that these changes are part of motherhood and the beauty of creating a life. Maybe she will someday be able to see her stretch marks as badges of honor and love them as much as she loves her children. And if I am really lucky, maybe I will learn to love mine too.
The Shape of A Mother: Save Our Daughters