Today I started working on scheduling my newborn pictures with a good friend. In addition to this, I wanted to have some family pictures as well, as it occurred to me that the last time we had a family picture taken, we were a family of three. That was 10 years ago! Sadly, our lack of family portraits is mostly my fault. I didn’t want my picture taken. When we would go on vacation or do family activities, I would be the person behind the camera. Pictures with Sissy as a newborn? Yup, I got them…with my husband and my son! There are no pictures of me and her when she was born or even slightly afterwards. Heck, there are no pictures of me and my son when he was a newborn either. I think my mom managed to get a picture of the four of us when she was a few months old, and the only copy of that is sitting at her house. Pictures of me on display in the house? Well, up until recently, there were three. The first one was taken a few months before my husband and I got married. The second was our wedding picture, and the third is sort of hidden upstairs in the playroom and was taken when my son was a year old. Recently, I sat down and thought about it, and the first thought that came to my mind was: What kind of body image am I portraying to my daughter?
I know I am not the only other mother that hides behind the camera. As women, we are all subject to body shame. If you are too thin, then everyone tells you that you must have an eating disorder.. If you are thick, then you are told that you are lazy and would be pretty if you just lost “x” amount of pounds. Even if you are right in the middle, your boobs are too big or you don’t have a thigh gap. There is no winning.
My struggles with miscarriage and the stress from loss and life in general over the past few years have really had me re-examine my life. I reached a point where I stopped caring about myself, and there have been times in the past two years where I have been in a really dark place. It was in that time that I did pin-up for the first time. It started out as a gift for my husband for Valentine’s day over a year ago. I was at my heaviest weight. I did not feel pretty. I was only doing it because he had asked for pictures, and well I felt he deserved something that made me step out of my comfort zone since at the time, the woman he still loved was pretty much a shell of a person and not someone many people would want to be around. I went in with the attitude of “let’s get this over with” and came out with a bit more self-confidence.
Shortly after that, I got the pictures back and was completely stunned at the woman in the photographs. How about that? I am a pretty girl. I showed the pictures off to my friends! I started using an actual picture of me for my profile on Facebook. (Seriously, that was a big deal. I would hide behind the fact that I could just post pictures of my kids or anything else instead.) I felt so awesome that when the Mommy and Me Pin-Ups came up with the same studio, I signed me and my daughter up for them. I bought a new dress for the occasion. Incidentally, the company that made the dress liked my photo so much that they used it as the cover photo for their Facebook page for a time. I was in complete shock! I even got a free dress from the company for letting them use my photo.
Doing these pictures helped my self-image. I found myself going through my closet and taking out the frumpy clothes. I started dressing in a way that made me feel good about myself. I started eating better. I got back on track with my exercise as well. I lost 20 pounds in the process. However, the difference in me losing that weight then and other times when I have tried to lose weight was this: if I lose weight, well that is great. If I don’t, well, I am pretty okay with being just as I am.
If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I got pregnant again late November. I ended up doing Pin-Up at 8 weeks, and my friend who did my make up and hair came up with this great way of announcing my pregnancy.
I started taking selfies of myself as my pregnancy progressed. I even did Mommy and Me Pin-Up again with a big ole baby belly and my little girl!
And now, I am looking at doing a final pregnancy Pin-Up shoot at the end of this month and have plans for a family picture with me, the new baby, and the rest of my family. Heck, I may even let someone take a picture of me right after I give birth this time.
You may be wondering what the point of me saying all of this is. It is simply this: whether you have stretch marks or not, you are still beautiful mama! If you have a flat tummy after having a baby, you are beautiful mama! If you have some jiggle in your belly years after having a baby, you are beautiful mama! Don’t be afraid to be in that picture! Don’t be afraid to love yourself whether or not you meet society’s standards. Love yourself as you are! Love yourself because your children need to see that you love yourself. Love yourself so that your children, nieces, nephews, and godchildren grow up with a better body image. Love yourself Mama because you are beautiful!