A Mother’s Body

This is an image shared by 257 friends of mine on Facebook.

I understand why people responded to it and why it has the number of likes that it does. Our stretch marks and lose skin and dimples may not have been there twenty years ago, but they are part of who we are now and, therefore, they are beautiful. We earned them.

We are Women, hear us Roar!

But, here’s the thing: I’m not roaring about my stretchmarks; I’m groaning.

Then there’s this movement that seems to pop up every few years of mothers baring their bellies to show what we — real women — look like. Yes, it’s absolutely refreshing to see what a normal belly is after years of being bombarded with washboard abs and Photoshopped perfection. Real bellies dimple and sag and dip and bulge. Real boobs do the same, and most of us have them. By recognizing this, we should all be more comfortable in our own skin. Well, that’s the point at least.

But, while everyone else is comforted and roaring, all I’m thinking is that I’m sure as hell not going to be caught dead on the internet without a shirt on. Good for those women. Their self-confidence and self-acceptance is inspiring. Good for their daughters, being raised by moms who are comfortable in their own skin… Good for their husbands who don’t need deal with the mishigas that most partners do. It’s a good thing… I’m just not there yet.

My body gave me my children and for that, I will be eternally grateful. It is a beautiful thing, indeed. But, the stretch marks? They’re not so pretty, no matter what exotic animal they’re compared to. The stomach? Sorry, but I would prefer it be be flatter. The veins? No, I don’t see little works of modern art in their formation. The sagging? The drooping? No, I can not say I love the effects that carrying and birthing three children has had on me. Does that make me anti-feminist, shallow and vain? Maybe, but it’s the truth: I liked my body better before I had kids.

Would I trade my motherly imperfections for the experience of motherhood? Of course not, not in a million years. But, I don’t consider them trophies, either. They’re more like necessary consequences that I’ve learned to accept, but never fully embrace. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat, but I’m not exactly proud of them, either.

Perhaps someday, I won’t slather coco butter on my skin, hoping for a miracle. Maybe I’ll even wear a skimpy swimsuit at a crowded public pool without the slightest hint of self consciousness. Maybe I’ll prance and roar and pound my chest with pride. But, more than likely, I won’t. I think I’ll always wish that I’d appreciated my pre-baby belly more and scowl at the cruel redistribution of weight. But, I do recognize that I’m more than a number on the scale or the ripples on my skin. I am woman. I guess I’m just not much of a roarer.

I do, however, really like to hiss.

About the writer


In addition to being the founder of all things Scary Mommy, Jill is also the New York Times bestselling author of Simon and Schuster’s Confessions of A Scary Mommy and Motherhood Comes Naturally (And Other Vicious Lies)

From Around the Web


Mayra Rachel 2 years ago

i have read this post and now i found out that it was very useful to me !

Danielle 3 years ago

Love your honesty. I feel the same way. There is so much I wish I could change.

Kande 4 years ago

Late coming to this party so probably no one will ever see my little comment, but I think it needs to be said. I love my toddlers chubby legs, and arms, and cheeks, and fat little belly! Who says babies don’thave cellulite? She sure does,and fat rolls to spare. And she is perfection. I love my 8 year olds body with her lingering baby fat, half-in crooked teeth, and her half way in curves, and her pokey out bum. She is perfection! I was a teenager and I was thinner than I was now but still considered heavy compared to my peers, I had teenage pimples and an 80’s frizzy perm. But what I wish I had realized then was that I was perfection. I was a pre-baby 20 something and finally shed the lingering pudge, had firm and perky boobs, no more acne and much better hair. I was still just as insecure and wish that I had realized then too that I was perfection. I am now 30 something, two kids and one c-section later. Some stretch marks and I have sagging skin, small deflated sagging boobs – but I also have, from starting to run, better abs than I have ever had, and an appreciation for where my body has been and how it is today. Because no matter what, to me? My kids will always be perfection. And I think, after 30 + years wasted on self doubt and body hatred, I owe it to myself – and my two daughters – to finally realize each stage is just that – a stage – and it is ALL perfection – even the saggy boob, wrinkled stomach, stetch mark stage …

Becca 4 years ago

My hubby loves my body so i am proud of it!!

We should be proud ‘cos be brought out our kids in this world..

Joanna 4 years ago

Liz, I just had to google it because you googled it and I love it. “Mishigas” is my life!

Liz @ PeaceLoveGuac 4 years ago

I had to google “mishigas” and it just might be my new go-to word. :)

imlosingit 4 years ago

My body pre baby was damn hot! I look so energetic, well rested and perky ! 1 ectopic, 2 kids and 6 miscarriages later I’m still not used to dressing “this body”. Even if i did everything right my shape is different. The scars I can live with. Bigger clothes, different styles, orthodics, saggy boobs ill deal. Its just wrapping my brain around positive change and accepting me right now. Just as I am.

Elaine 4 years ago

I gotta tell ya, since we’re on the subject, looking at some of those other bellies made me feel better about mine. And I don’t mean that in a mean way, but it’s true. And I’ve sorta bared my belly, from the side, on my blog, when I’ve showed change after my weight loss. Some people say I’m brave to do that, I just say it keeps me motivated.

I do like to see the “real” bodies vs. the photoshopp-ed ones (which I would even guess this one is, in some way…) out there because I think we women need to know that those DO exist. But that doesn’t mean you have to do it too if you do not feel comfortable with it. :)

*lynne* 4 years ago

Ugh. I’ve had stretch marks since puberty when my body decided to fill out before my skin was ready for it. I’ve lived with the shame of that for years (I turn 40 this year), so thanks to me beloved mother (/sarcasm) who, when asked what was happening, why the area around my arms/shoulders were doing this weird dimpled stripe thing, replied, spitting almost, “You’re too fat!”

Fun times.

I am totally uncomfortable with my body ANYway, these new stretch marks are just the icing on the cake.

So the stretch marks from my now 9-month-old? Can’t do anything about them, really, but I’ll try to be better about slathering on the cocoa butter for the next pregnancy.


Jaci @ Ravings of a Mad Housewife 4 years ago

If they want to make a real RAWR! movement, show a stomach with the post-baby, shriveled “apron” we all have going on in the front. Pan the camera down a little lower.

Otherwise, it DOES look like marks photoshopped on a model.

Holly 4 years ago

I totally agree. I beat myself up before I had kids and my body was never quite good enough. Now I look back and wish I could kick 22 year old me’s ass.

Tere 4 years ago

love the post – love the pic. sooooo true.
hate my body.
love my son.
hate my body.
love being a mom…
what else is there to say?

abnormalmommy 4 years ago

Nothing will ever be the same again, but like you said, we should try to accept it. I too wish I would have appreciated my pre-baby belly, boobies, and bottom. But I didn’t and now I have decided to appreciate my one baby-belly, boobies, and bottom as long as I can before #2 joins the family. That’s the best I can do!

Joanna 4 years ago

Oh my gosh, I was healed within a week, with a double surgery. The mini-tt was nothing, nothing. The boobs hurt a little bit. In 7 days I felt almost normal.

Joanna 4 years ago

Ah, “twin skin.” Gotta love it.

Joanna 4 years ago

Ah, I agree. They look Photoshopped on perfect skin. Unfortunately if skin stretches enough to cause the marks, it also gets a bit crepey…

Joanna 4 years ago

Great response. :)

Charlie 4 years ago

As the poster of that image, I think I should respond to a couple of points here, even though I have a Y chromosome…

In addition to saying that women earned their scars and marks, we’re also saying that, as men, we can admire them. Your narcissism aside, we’re saying that they have meaning and beauty. Men, based on the bulk of the male comments on that Facebook/Blog post, are proud of their wives and their stretch skin, for the gift they gave them.

Sure, it’s good to be aspirational and desire a more “perfect” body but only if it helps you to live in a healthier way. Our obsession with perfect skin and features and lives is not healthy. Life is for living, not for applying creams and staying indoors and never going out into the sun.

Can’t we just say that we, as men, find you beautiful in your many different iterations, for many different reasons. Can’t that be enough?

Dawn 4 years ago

I don’t believe that picture, first of all. I think they took a frickin’ model and Photoshopped stretch marks onto her. I have seen many women’s bodies (I’m a Massage Therapist) of all colors, shapes, and sizes and I have not once seen a firm body with those size stretch marks.
I do not have love for mine, but I do not ‘show them off’ either. It’s something I can’t erase without a few thousand dollars and many trips to the laser, so I just ignore them. Except one really bad one in the panty-line area of my pubic region that can get irritated and swell into a small purplish lump sometimes. THAT one really ticks me off!

Nichole 4 years ago

I’m with you. I admire the people who can do it, but I will never be one of them.

Becca 4 years ago

All this is making me glad my body wasn’t much to look at before I fell pregnant. You can’t miss what you never had! But hey, my flabby, cellulite-ridden body got me out of the ICU 5 days earlier than the doctors predicted when I almost died of Ludwig’s angina, and it carried me on a 17 mile run on Saturday.

Because of my self-harm and suicide attempts in my teens and early twenties, the near-death situation above and the ugly tracheotomy scar that came with it, and the breastfeeding-related scar that has marred my only good feature, I do view my scars as trophies. They’re the only trophies I have.

JBoog’s Mom 4 years ago

Ugh, if this was facebook, I would have “liked” this! And I totally get the broken thing…

Angela Willis 4 years ago

Thank you for saying what I feel.

JBoog’s Mom 4 years ago

Looks like I’m in the minority…mine don’t bother me at all…i almost like them…

Johanna 4 years ago

Love that (and glad you posted it cause I missed it on FB).

Shh, don’t tell but I really have no desire to be photographed in the morning. This morning, especially, when I had a weird cross- the-face wrinkle that still wasn’t gone by the time I had to walk the kids to school. Time to retrain myself to sleep on my back (or let the kids walk to schoo by themselves)!

ReluctantMomma 4 years ago

I’ve been going to bed with Ben. And Jerry – those bastards….but GOD they are good in bed!

ReluctantMomma 4 years ago

On my best day- pre or post kids – I would kill to look that good – maybe I’m looking at the picture wrong…but is that supposed to be “bad?!??!?!?”

post-baby bodies are sturdier and softer – great for amazing orgasms IN THE DARK and also comforting scared, snotty, and/or sick kids.

after four kids – i now permenantly look preggers – normal legs – normal shoulders – 6 months preggo belly –

I’ve just been telling poeple I’m due in Late April – I never specify the year:)

Sweety Darlin 4 years ago

I hate my body too, but adore my kids. I always joke that maybe just maybe I should develop a habit that results in massive weight loss and excessive energy, but it has draw backs like tooth decay and skin lesions.

Oh well maybe doctors will find a cure!

Kisha 4 years ago

“Would I trade my motherly imperfections for the experience of motherhood? Of course not, not in a million years. But, I don’t consider them trophies, either. They’re more like necessary consequences that I’ve learned to accept, but never fully embrace. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat, but I’m not exactly proud of them, either.”

Let the church say amen!

Nuts about food 4 years ago

By the way, I think that picture was photoshopped…no stomach like that has stretchmarks like THAT. Which makes me feel even worse: they are photoshopping stretch marks onto beautiful tummies to make our post baby tummies feel better. Ha!

Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes 4 years ago

Oh I hear you, I hear you loud and clear…

Lynn from For Love or Funny 4 years ago

But where is that lady’s flab? You know, the spongy flab you can’t get rid of around your waist after birth. Or is that just me?

shanan 4 years ago

it’s genetics, ask any plastic surgeon and they will tell you. Whether you will have stretch marks or not depends on genes and not skin care, lotions can help but will not prevent. Count yourself lucky.

Heather 4 years ago

See, I hated my body pre-pregnancy. Especially during the short time that there was some doubt about my ability to conceive. Not only was I ugly, but I was broken too! Now that I’m pregnant with my second, I AM proud. At least there is a “good reason” for my belly to sag and my boobs to reach down to my knees and need to be rolled up to fit in a bra. Once I reach a “socially acceptable” weight you can be damn sure I’ll be shoving myself into a bikini! I did wear a bikini before, and I do not think, “Thank God I flaunted it while I had it.” I think, “WTF Was I thinking wearing a bikini? I was fat and ugly and I should have known better.”

Now, even with my stretch marks and saggy tits, When I’m chasing a toddler or nursing a newborn on the beach, I’ll be doing it with pride, not shame or fear of judgment.

Kimberly 4 years ago


Marinka 4 years ago

I wish I could blame my kids for my stomach. But I blame Ben. And Jerry.

breesmomny 4 years ago

I have stretch marks, saggy boobs, and a still nursing 19 month old. My younger sister say my boo s recently and swore off breastfeeding totally :( but she has no kids and her stomach looks like a warzone plus she’s 50 pounds overweight so while I know its mean, I’ll keep my post baby body anyday!

Lindsay 4 years ago

Compared to what my body looks like after two kids that woman could be a super model. Mine looks more like I got chucked into a cheese grater.

Joanna 4 years ago

That’s what I called it. All I needed was a “mini-tummy tuck.” He just cut where the c-section scar was and removed some skin. Maybe 2 inches. I put pictures on my blog, and explained how woman are all for solidarity when we look not-so-good together, but when we do something to feel better about ourselves, we are criticized for being vain. My stomach is far from perfect close up, but I feel a lot more comfortable with myself. My mom was the one who told me to go for it. We were all on a beach vacation and I didn’t realize how self-conscious I was subconsciously. My mom watched me and she said, “Joanna, you are only 32, and you have a right to look and feel good about yourself.” The next year I was rocking a string bikini! :)

Mary 4 years ago

Agreed! I would have no problems with my belly if it was that flat and toned. I would even accept ten times as many stripes as that woman has if my stomach looked like that.

kazza 4 years ago

Totally agree with you. I didn’t get stretch marks but am left with jelly belly and boobs that reach my knees. Wouldn’t wear a swimsuit never mind a bikini!!

Scary Mommy 4 years ago

Exactly. I was never happy, but I was certainly happier.

Scary Mommy 4 years ago

Good for you!! I have a friend who just had a mommy makeover and I’m super jealous. I’m also too much of a baby, but it’s fun to dream.

Scary Mommy 4 years ago

I just read your post and think you’re awesome for doing it. I’m just not so brave. And, P.S. I think you look amazing– I cannot imagine the condition I would be in after two more kids.

Scary Mommy 4 years ago

See, I think the point is to liberate women and make us proud. Just doesn’t work for me.

Scary Mommy 4 years ago

You get to growl.

Susan 4 years ago

We’re on the same wave length; I wrote a post this week about the same topic. This is obviously on a lot of womens’ minds.

Chantelle 4 years ago

oddly enough, my stretch marks don’t bother me, but the extra belly fat, spider veins, and oh, my poor boobs, do. But I’m with you, I would do it all over again to have my three babies.

No Drama Mama 4 years ago

I feel the same way. Pregnancy and 15 months of nursing didn’t do my body any favors. I also feel like I can’t really complain about it, because I didn’t get stretch marks. Sagging, bulging, yes–but apparently that doesn’t matter. But it does to me! And I hate it. If I had the money, I would totally get a tummy tuck.

Amy at Best Baby Strollers 4 years ago

It is a lovely picture. I don’t have the stretch marks but I have the squish now that I didn’t used to have. I’d rather have the flatter belly!

Anyway, it’s simple, don’t despair over it, just remember that you are not your body and that the flesh always fades with time, not YOU.

momof2Syd&E 4 years ago

I have two kids and not one stretch mark and still a flat stomach with muscle tone, it does have a small pouch of extra skin from being pregnant and I gained 80 pounds during each pregnancy and lost it all. I think it has more to do with genes and skin care. My stomach looks better then the photo and my mother has not one stretch mark at 64 and I’m 41. Eat health and take care of your body and let all the others hate you while you can still wear a bikini

Scary Mommy 4 years ago

I never had a completely flat stomach, either. But what I had? I would kill for now.

Scary Mommy 4 years ago

That made me laugh. Dove… are you listening?! :)

Scary Mommy 4 years ago

I think that’s great — I wish I felt that way!

Scary Mommy 4 years ago

Yeah, if my stripes looked like that on a tanned and tight body, I’d probably flaunt them too.

Scary Mommy 4 years ago

Me, too, Rebeccah. I’d be all for a tummy tuck, but I’m the biggest baby ever! I daydream about it, though.

Scary Mommy 4 years ago

Oh, that’s tragic!!

Scary Mommy 4 years ago

No kidding!

Evy 4 years ago

Yea, I completely agree with coffee lovin’ mom. That pic is a lot better than my battle scars. Forget about making me roar. That pic almost made howl in dispair! I think that’s what my post mommy body looks like after some serious Photoshop! Just like scary mommy said, no regrets here! But I sure see our stretch marks, belly poof, and saggies a lot more like consequences to be accepted, than trophies to be attained!

Scary Mommy 4 years ago

Ohhh, like birth control, huh? That, I get.

Rae 4 years ago

yeah, I’m right there with you! Perfectly put, as always!

Rebeccah 4 years ago

I know I could look better undressed with some effort. But it doesn’t make you want to put in that effort when there are some tummy troubles that are permanent, like the loose skin, stretch marks etc. Kind of frustrating.

Rebeccah 4 years ago

Um not me. Her stretch marks are hotter than mine, and I’m not even going to get into my abs. Or the lack thereof.

Kim at Let Me Start By Saying 4 years ago

I’ve had stretch marks since puberty (I grew tall & womanly really fast), so I had plenty of time to get used to them before having kids was even on my radar…so they don’t really bug me. But I understand where you’re coming from.

Hissing is a start, though. It’s a start I’m happy to hear you’re at.

Rebeccah 4 years ago

HELL yes.

Rebeccah 4 years ago

I think that is awesome. I would say that I’d do the same thing except I’m chicken. Good for you!

liz 4 years ago

How many women had abs like that to begin with? While I do not have stretch marks, I do call my belly my “mama pouch”. I don’t know. I know why I have the pouch that I do, but obviously it would be cool if it wasn’t there. I’ve never been one to fret too much about body image stuff, I guess.

cindafuckingrella 4 years ago

That is like the LEAST offensive thing I have ever read.
Who doesn’t love their kids and hate their stretch marks?? Who wouldn’t want to be younger and tighter and less saggy, spotty etc. Having kids is a bitch on your body. Gravity doesn’t help much either.
At least we’re all in the same boat. :-)

Shirley 4 years ago

First let me start by saying that I love my children and if I had to do it all over again I would not think twice about going through the whole process. But with that said I hate what two c-sections did to my stomach the sagging pocket that is left because of the c-section, I have to come to the reality that it might never go away no matter how much weight I loose or how much I exercise unless I opt for a tummy tuck. After nursing two kids push up bras are my best friend. I did not have big boobs to begin with but at least they did not sag before. Now they are small and they sag, so without a push up bra well I look like I am flat chested (ugh!!!) But I would not take it back for nothing, nursing my kids was one of the best decisions I made and do not regret it. But I do not like what it did to my body. Like another poster said if I would have really understood what pregnancies, c-sections, nursing would do to my body I would have flaunted it a lot more LOL!!!!!

Sharon-Michelle 4 years ago

Thumbs way way up!

Christine Mack 4 years ago

I didn’t have a perfect body before hand. I’ve had stretch marks because I hit puberty as well. I’ve always been curvy. I have felt ugly my whole life. Most of it due to child abuse but there you have it. I feel ugly. I feel so ugly and gross at times the only way I can relieve the pressure is to cut. I’m open about this on my blog but I want it said. When someone complains about how they look when it comes to the outside I want to scream at them and say….how about you live in my shoes for a day. Now I realize that’s not fair. It’s not. I know it..but it’s how I feel. I think that the point that these kind of articles are trying to make is to love ourselves with our imperfections. For me being able to have a child is a miracle. I look at the extra bumps and marks..and I think about all the love it took to make them. I think about how my life is my own now.

Audrey 4 years ago

Thank you for writing this! I am certainly not shouting from the roof tops about how great my body is. Just wish I could tell my younger self to shut up and enjoy it!

Ashley 4 years ago

I have had stretch marks since I was about 11, when I started going through puberty. Up until that point I had been stick thin, short, and tiny. All of a sudden I gained weight and got taller. I wasn’t fat, but definitely chubby, and my legs (which make up most of my body, lol) stayed thin. HOWEVER, there were big, ugly, red, stretch marks running down the back of them. TERRIBLE experience at that age, but since Ive had them so long I’m used to them. The women in my family have like, no elasticity in their skin, period, lol.
I knew that when I got pregnant I was gonna look like road map, and yea, I did. I carried my daughter so high I have stretch marks almost to my boobs that, btw, sag to try and reach said stretch marks! Windsocks!! I gained less weight with my son so luckily I didn’t add any new ones there. I’ve gotten used to my stretch marks and saggy skin, and when I’m at a comfortable weight, I don’t even see them because I feel so good…BUT…you will not see me in a bikini either. I aim to flatter my body not showcase what even I hate to look at. They’re not battle scars to me. They’re just ugly…and weird feeling…lol

Kelsey 4 years ago

This post was so refreshing! I feel the exact same way. I used to be so self conscious of what I looked like and now I look at pictures – and though I never had a full on six pack – I had the deep line down the middle and my body was flawless! I just wish I would have embraced it then! Now I say to myself – WHAT WAS I THINKING? I SHOULD HAVE BEEN PRANCING IN A STRING BIKINI!

However, after two kids I have HORRIBLE stretch marks and I don’t think I will ever embrace them either. It has been one of my goals to come to terms with them. I mean there are some people I see at the beach in a two piece who look 1000x worse than I would (due to being overweight, stretch marks, you name it), but I just don’t think I can ever bring myself to do it.

Arnebya 4 years ago

My babies giveth (finally got boobs and buns) and my babies taketh away (lost both directly after giving birth). And they left me with these not so great things to remember them by. I wish I could make the stretch marks disappear. I wish there was a magic salve like the one I bought in 7th grade to make my breasts grow. Wasted my damn $19.99 + shipping and handling. I don’t know that I’ll ever bare my stomach either, especially since yeah, hear us roar, but I’m roaring more about how the stomach in the picture is woefully misrepresenting real stretchmarks. Because mine looks like I fought a tiger. And lost.

TheCheekyKea 4 years ago

Thank you! Finally someone who is willing to admit the truth! Anyway, how many of us have a belly that looks as good as Ms. TigerStripes up there after having kids!?

TheCheekyKea 4 years ago

Thank you!

Shell 4 years ago

If I had known what pregnancy would do to my body, I would have have had naked pics taken before I had my babies.

Amy Bliss 4 years ago

Barbara, you’re so right. LOL And they’re vertical, so they’re going to be even more slimming then, yes? *grin* Love it!

This Side of 30 4 years ago

While I do agree with you quite a bit, I am so very proud of my stretch marks and my C-section scar. Granted I don’t have many stretch marks and my C-section scar is super-duper low and can barely be seen, but still. These are my “I beat infertility” stripes.

I would, however, love to not have a saggy belly, but a lot of that is pure lack of motivation (or time?) to work out. There are no bikinis in my near future, but only for the sagginess…not the scars.

Kelly 4 years ago

“Would I trade my motherly imperfections for the experience of motherhood? Of course not, not in a million years. But, I don’t consider them trophies, either. They’re more like necessary consequences that I’ve learned to accept, but never fully embrace.” — I totally agree. I am proud of my body and the children that it produced, but I’m not proud of stretchmarks. BUT I don’t think that that should be an excuse to just give up forever.

Melissa 4 years ago

I am plus sized. Always have been & despite how hard I try, I might always be. That has made this whole mother-hood body change easier to take. My body looked pretty much the same before I got pregnant as it does now, with the exception of a little more meat on the ol’ spare tire. I only gained 20lbs while pregnant & just now at 2yr post-natal, am back to where I started. I plan on having one more in the near future. I have always felt that I am the kind of person who seems to get better looking as I get older. Perhaps b/c my confidence grows along with my age. I believe that one day, after my baby-making days are done, I might finally have a body I will be “proud” of. Strech marks and all :)

dianthe 4 years ago

i am right there with you – i was able to get through 2 pregnancies without any stretchmarks on my stomach – i did get a few on my inner thighs and a couple of my breasts and i know that i’m one of the lucky ones – but i do have some saggy skin and thighs that are still bigger than i ever had before – i have super saggy boobs and one that is now at least 2 cup sizes larger than the other due to one outperforming the other in milk production

i love my kids more than my life and i wouldn’t trade them for the world – but i remember when i was freaking HOT and i miss that body – i used to run around the house in a tank top and VS Pink pajama pants feeling sexy – and you can call me vain or shallow or whatever – but now i’m just painfully aware of the imperfections

yes i carried and delivered 2 children – i also produced enough milk to feed them for years – i am proud that my body was able to do it and yes, i kicked ass – but i don’t need my body to show the scars – i have 2 walking, talking trophies to show off every single day!

Rebecca @ Unexplained X2 4 years ago

Hissing works for me.

Bonnie 4 years ago

I really think that’s the way most women feel? The effects of age and several babies isn’t physically pretty. I guess I’m more ambivalent about it. I’m just out there living my life and having fun with my kids. I’m in decent shape, I eat very well, and I think I look pretty damn good for a 35ish mother of three, sagging, stretch marks, cottage cheese and all. What exactly am I supposed to look like? I can wear a two piece comfortably at the beach (not a stringy two piece, but two piece just the same). It’s not that I look like an airbrushed magazine photo, but I really don’t feel like I have to or that I should. I also don’t look at other women in my boat and think “Ewwww gross I can’t believe she’s not covering that belly up” so I don’t asume others are thinking that of me. And if they are, screw them 😀

pauline 4 years ago

Jill, I’m right there with you. I love my daughter. With every ounce of my being. But I also hate my body. Did I love my body before I became a mother? Not totally, but I sure as hell liked it MORE than I do now. Does that mean I’d trade a flat stomach and perky boobies for the little girl that calls me Mama? Hell no. This is where I am. This is who I am. This is what I look like. It’s time to make peace with that.

Joanna 4 years ago

P.S. Isn’t it ironic that the image is from a site called, “howtobeadad.com?”

Joanna 4 years ago

I had twins. I had twins and I’m tall and thin, a size 4 when I found out I was pregnant. People could not believe how huge I could be from the side, but from the back, I looked normal, not even pregnant. “It’s all baby.” Then we found out it was all “babies.” Twins.

I sometimes cry when I look at what used to be my belly button. I didn’t even get to say goodbye, you know? No one prepared me for the changes. Everyone said I would bounce back, but then when they found out I was having twins, they stopped saying that. I remember the day I felt the muscles finally give ip; the grand moment of Diastasis recti! I called my OBGYN office and said, “I feel like something bad happened. It feels like my muscles ripped apart.” Tabby, the nurse, said, “Yes that is probably exactly what happened. You are having twins, and this is normal.”

I made it until late November, after my baby shower, with no stretch marks. It was just a huge, beautiful pregnant belly, then bam! all Hell broke loose.

Nursing is a whole different story. Now did anyone warn you that your boobs would shrivel up and die when you stopped breast feeding? I went from the 34 C to a 34 F some days when nursing, to a 34 AA. Awesome. Skin flabs on some ribs.

This sad story has a bit of a happy ending. I decided to heck with all of the people that said pregnancy is beautiful, it’s natural, accept who we are, and I went to a consult with a plastic surgeon. He said, “Oh this is nothing, we could fix this so easily.” And I did. Heck, yeah, I did. You can get a “Care Credit” account, with no interest and slap the surgery right on there.

My stomach is still covered in stretch marks and my bellybutton is this weird, sort-of weird thing. But he was able to take out a little extra skin and pull it tighter, and I have boobs again. I went through all the guilty feelings of being selfish, and vain, but in the end I think it’s our right to have our bodies repaired after they have been damaged by pregnancy. Pregnancy was trauma to my body, and I got it fixed. People fix cars with cosmetic scratches and dents all the time. Those flaws don’t prevent the car from running, but who wants to drive around in a dented up, scratched up car?

Love your post. Highly recommend Dr. Sterling in Manchester, NH. 😉

Stacey 4 years ago

Amen! And I’m not ashamed to say that I’d kinda like my boobs back. I really miss them.

melissa 4 years ago

I developed a blood clot during my pregnancy that destroyed the veins in one of my legs, thus leaving a lovely HUGE vericous (sp?) vein. Lovely… not. Same as you, wouldn’t trade my kiddo for the world… but that “trophy” — I could have done without. Sigh…. (ps. it totally helps that so many other women can relate…)

Amanda 4 years ago

I’d like to think that if the skin on my tummy didn’t sag, the stretch marks wouldn’t bother me quite so much. I think I’d still have issues with the imperfections, but I really wish I wasn’t carrying around enough extra skin to reupholster my husband’s Tahoe.

Would I trade my twins for my pre-pregnancy skin? Never.

Robin | Farewell, Stranger 4 years ago

Amen. I have a pretty serious hate-on for my post-baby right now and a skinny chick with stretch marks aren’t making it any better.

Nikki 4 years ago

I have no problem with streth marks, I’ve had them since I was 12 and my weight ballooned and dropped. What I don’t appreciate is this “front butt” I’m sporting post-baby! I’ve ne er had a flat stomach, hell I could hide my gut, but now I look like the bottom half they show of people on the news when talking about this country’s obesity rate! WTF baby??

Sharon-Michelle 4 years ago

Survived 4 pregnancies & 2 births beautifully intact.
I count myself lucky: no stretch marks or cellulite. Just D cups where C cups once were + 15 extra pounds that arent so bad…but I also work so very hard keeping it together.

Womanhood & motherhood in our culture is a massive responsibility & hard work. :( :)

Cat Davis 4 years ago

Seeing those bellies actually left me feeling depressed, not-so-alone, but still depressed. I have this glimmer of hope in my mind that if I work hard enough, I can have my tight belly back, at least enough to stop wearing baggy shirts. It all just made me realize, short of having the help of a plastic surgeon, I’m stuck with saggy abs.

Denise 4 years ago

I’d love to have the belly in the photo. It kinda annoys me that it is supposed to be an example of something someone would be self conscious of. But I agree with you on all points. I wouldn’t trade my kids for my pre-kid body but I am working on acceptance which is a long way away from pride or roaring

Anthony from CharismaticKid 4 years ago

I agree. Self-help pictures like those are only good if people use them and don’t just tout them.

If I have stretch marks and a big chub of a body, I’ll either be proud and flaunt it, or work my BUTT off making it go away.

Lolli @ Better in Bulk 4 years ago

Interesting. I just wrote about the same issue from the complete opposite point of view yesterday. I never, ever bare my stomach, but I did yesterday, at the request of a friend. It does NOT look good after 5 kids, but I view my belly as a powerful reminder of the beauty that came from it. It was interesting reading your comments. They are completely different from those left on my post (though I’m sure there are plenty of non-commenters who walked away dry heaving after seeing my picture…). And I do not consider myself feminist at all. Do I wish I were thinner? Do I long for flatter abs? Sure. But am I embarrassed or ashamed or trying to hide the body I have now? No.

Mallorie 4 years ago

Oh it IS possible. Its called 6,754 crunches a day and eating an orange for breakfast, kale for lunch and raw beans for dinner. How is that enjoyable? Id rather have the flabby stomach. haha.

Randi 4 years ago

OK 1) if my stretch marks ONLY looked like that picture, I’d be sporting a bikini but they don’t. That picture looks photoshopped to me – I have loose skin and a bulge and horrible stretch marks.
And 2) you’re right! I wouldn’t EVER show my stomach online. Perhaps to a bunch of high school girls to warn them LOL but not where pictures would be taken. My friends haven’t even seen this stomach.

I’m proud of the children this body has born, but that doesn’t mean I’m about to show it off. And it ticks me off all those images on Pinterest where the women have super fab abs – that’s just not possible for some of us.

Mercy 4 years ago

Ahh, it makes me feel better to know I’m not the only one who faces this.

Mommy Inconsistent 4 years ago

Sigh…I’m feeling the same. I lucked out with not getting stretch marks, but the sagging and the redistribution of weight right to my middle is enough to make anyone go right for that nasty bag of oreos you have in the house for the kids…again, sigh.

Nehrie 4 years ago

I wouldn’t trade anything from my past for my baby ♥

Real Dad 4 years ago

I give you a lot of credit because my wife barely lets me see her stomach. I just read her your post and she loved it but thinks you’re nuts but I think you have another reader….

Good luck with the book!

Melissa 4 years ago

Haha! You can be fat and healthy, though. I know I am (good ol’ PCOS). And yes, well said, re: kissing of le ass! ;-D

Mallorie 4 years ago

I guess I should add that I DO have stretchmarks but its becuase I gained an assload of weight and then got healthy and lost it. Got saggy boobs too! Oh well. No one sees them but my husband and he doesnt seem to mind. And if someone doesnt like my saggy boobs and stretchmarks, they can kiss my fatass.

Carrie 4 years ago

Well, I’ve never had kids and I have’em. (More on my ass though, than anywhere else.)

I’ll tell you, being able to say you got’em from having kids HAS to be a better reason than saying you got’em from having donuts.

Kelly 4 years ago

Well said!!!

Melissa 4 years ago

I agree with you. My sister has had fertility treatment and, unfortunately, has yet to have a baby. However, the pregnancies she has had have each had permanent, irreversible effects on her body. Alas, she’s not really included in these sorts of things because she has the sucky effects with nothing to show for them. She is still a real woman with body image issues, though. We’re all in this together, whether we have children or don’t, whether we birthed our children or not.

Trish 4 years ago

Agreed. Especially the part about wishing I had appreciated my pre-baby body more. I suppose if I were willing to give up dessert and booze and maybe exercise now and then, I could get some semblance of the body I once had. But, that just seems like too much work.

Heather 4 years ago

My problem with this image is that the stomach is so flat! Sure, there are stretch marks, but it’s not a typical after child belly.

Melissa 4 years ago

Speaking as a hardcore feminist, I can honestly say that this is not anti-feminist at all (I can’t imagine how you’d think it would be – quite the opposite). I applaud you for speaking out about something that a lot of women feel about their post-childbirth bodies. Most women – mothers or childless ones – feel insecure about their bodies, and by being honest about it, we can try to get past this societal expectation that people should look like Hollywood stars 24/7.

Mallorie 4 years ago

I dont like seeing this type of shit everywhere because Im an adoptive mom and wtf? Stretchmarks dont make you beautiful because you can carry a child.

angelica 4 years ago

I think we ALL feel like you do. I think that is kind of the point of the campaign. I don’t think tribeswomen whose saggy breast are exposed daily are as self aware. If it was REALLY normal to see dimples, and stretch marks etc. maybe we wouldn’t feel this way. I think that is the point.

christy 4 years ago

Hissssss! LOVE this, and love you Jill!

Not a Perfect Mom 4 years ago

Pictures like that piss me off…
So not a real representation of most women’s bodies after child birth…
After four C sections with my kids ranging from 8 to 10 1/2 pounds, some of my stretch marks are still so deep you could roll quarters in them…
And you’re so welcome for that sexy imagery….

Kristin 4 years ago

The posts and the websites are appreciated – I like them because they show me that I’m not alone in a bizarre bellybutton and a belly that looks like dozens of snakes slithered across the sand at low-tide. And – horrible as it is – I appreciate it because of all the bellies that make me feel like mine isn’t quite so bad. Thank you!

But, similar to what SM says, I DO want my belly to be smaller and I want my abs to be unseparated so I can’t stick a finger between the muscles when I do crunches. I will never wear a bikini again – but let’s face it, I wasn’t a slim-jim before I got pregnant either.

Kate Coveny Hood 4 years ago

Oh I know…I’ve always felt a bit on the outside when it comes to the joy of all things pregnancy. I didn’t really care for being pregnant and found breast feeding unpleasant. I’m not ashamed of what my body looks like now – but I don’t exactly feel proud of it either. It it what it is.

I think the post -pregancy body has been easier for me since I NEVER had a flat stomach before. Actually – I think my stomach is a tiny bit flatter now that the muscles have been stretched like silly putty.

But I am so aware of how much I regretted a body that viewed through 20 years’ hindsight, was perfectly lovely. And as hard as it is to see past the loose stomach skin and the icky veins on my legs, I try to remember that. I try to appreciate the way I look now from the perspective of my future 20-years-older eyes. Because at 60? I’ll think that I look kick ass at 40.

I don’t always succeed…but it helps. And I’m a little kinder to myself in the meantime.

Sarahviz 4 years ago

You just said exactly what I think. 3 c-sections (2 of them within 12-1/2 months) = nothing I would ever show to anyone (except for my husband) (but only in the dark).

christina 4 years ago

I can honestly say reading these comments have made me feel so much better. I always feel like I’m so alone when look at my body, and then get constantly bombarded by images of “the perfect woman.” I’m on baby #2 and I have the jelly belly….and the flab arms, lol. I love my kids, but not so much the mini tornado that blew through my midsection. However, I’m still a pretty girl. A waist line does not determine beauty. And to be honest, I’d pick my voluptuous chest over being flat chested any day. :)

Christi 4 years ago

We don’t have to love it nor do we have to show it (and please, for the love of everyone, don’t) but we can get to a point where we don’t hate it and in the interest of humanity, keep it sufficiently covered. Love all 3 of my kids and don’t regret what carrying them did to my body but can put more blame on not exercising and freaking facebooking than I can pregnancy. So to celebrate ME, I choose clothes that fit – muffin tops need to stay on muffins or under loose clothing :)

Tripplus2 4 years ago

Love it! I couldn’t have said it better. After having 2 kids then being pregnant with triplets (now 7 y/o), I realize I’ll never have a pretty stomach (or legs & boobs), but they’re mine and I have to make the best of it. I may not like it, but that’s life.

Ruth 4 years ago

I feel exactly the same! You worded it so well too: the stretch marks are more of a necessity you learn to live with. I’d do it all over again but you won’t catch me flaunting my stretch mark, covered baby pooch!

Nancy 4 years ago

That’s hardly a belly to be embarassed about. I’ll gladly trade her. I’m not gonna lie…..this kinda pisses me off.

Carolyn 4 years ago

I’m with you, I’m thankful my body gave me children, but I could’ve done without the stretch marks, or other “fun things” that occurred…

FIFW 4 years ago

I never really gave them a second thought. Although my ex never had any of these, I had a girlfriend who had these. I found her to be sexy as all hell, marks or no marks….. Passion overcomes…. : )

Tam 4 years ago

AMEN! I love my kids, all three of them. I loathe my body. It is saggy, stretched, marked and frankly even if airbrushing did not exist, my body would *still* be considered ugly. BECAUSE IT IS. Society hasn’t ‘duped me’ into thinking that I have to look like ‘them’ to be pretty. I know ugly when I see it. And I see it daily.

The only thing my stretchmarks tell me is that I’m never wearing a bikini again.

I love my kids.

I HATE my body.

SoberJulie 4 years ago

You’re doing it wrong Jill, with that photo I imagine I HAVE that tummy already, that my pooch is no more and my stretch marks match.

Sometimes fooling myself is wonderful but HELL no I don’t show off my tummy in public

Jennifer 4 years ago

I love my babies. I don’t love my body. I wish I did, but I just don’t.

Anna 4 years ago

it would be great if that was actually an ad for stretch mark reduction – there’s something about it that seems a little “thou dost protest too much” to me, but then again i am a total cynic. maybe one day i will be the sorta person who also likes that kinda thing on fb, probably about the time my stomach looks anywhere that good, stretch marks and all.

Cheryl 4 years ago

While I dodged the stretchmarks, hand to Heaven, after breastfeeding twins, my nipples point in different directions….even now…10 years later.
Doubt Dove or any “real woman” campaign wants in on that action.

Tanya 4 years ago

This pic is my cell phone wall paper… Not because of the stretch marks but it’s a reminder to me that after having kids my stomach can look like that. And I’m close. Yeah that particular picture is probably as the previous Tanya said, photoshopped, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. I love this pic and I love the encouragement it gives me. *shrugs*

Lynn 4 years ago

Actually I DO love my stripes of honour, I adore my tiger stripes and all they stand for and I wish I could show them off with pride on the beach. However it is the saggy (too much chocolate) belly and boobs I can’t bear to show. If I had a body like the one in the pic, of course I would show it off: that woman looks amazing, in fact I doubt she has had children at all, I bet it is the stretch marks that have been photoshopped on to make the poster! My ‘tiger stripes’ don’t look like hers – all straight and exotic- mine are creased and bumpy and cover much rougher terrain; my saggy skin makes it hard to find the lines in places.

Tanya 4 years ago

That photo makes me angry…if I positioned myself in that way, you’d see a whole lot more than that faint shadowing of extra skin. I’m betting they photoshopped those stretch marks onto that completely gorgeous body.
My stomach, after 3 kids, has so much extra skin, I can’t help but be reminded of the Silence of the Lambs whenever I look at myself. You know, the skins suit that guy was making? That’s what I’m talking about…

Sandra 4 years ago

I’m pretty much against anything that insinuates we should all jump on the bandwagon. When I see things like that, it annoys me. I have no stretchmarks. Sorry. I don’t. Does this mean I don’t get to roar?
Great post and so nice to read something that isn’t all about conforming to the feminist agenda.

Shannon Kuhns 4 years ago

I feel the same way…. which is why, 7 months ago, this proud Mom of two amazing children got a tummy tuck and a boob lift. Yep. And I got some grief about it. As if saving my hard-earned money and driving a 12 year old car so I could afford to have my body look a little more like it did in my 20s was a betrayal of a mother’s love. I totally understand being empowered by motherhood. Being empowered by pregnancy and childbirth, and embracing the miracle of what my body did. But I also embrace the miracle of modern medicine. 😉 And I did keep some souvenirs from from all that empowering stuff. Their names are Wyatt and Neva. They’re the only proof I need that a miracle happened.

Barbara 4 years ago

We are all so much more than our abs. That said, I’m working on mine. Tiger marks will look fierce over a six pack, no? :)

KH99 4 years ago

Ugh yes. I appreciate what they are trying to do, but I didn’t carry my child, so I don’t have anything as positive to account for my flabby stomach and weight gain since college. Infertility body? I’m proud of surviving that, but I still wish I looked better.

Just Jennifer 4 years ago

I freaking HATE my stretch marks! And the spider veins in my legs? These things are NOT attractive and I don’t cherish them. I’ve had “jelly belly” since my son was born 6 years ago. We put up with these things cuz they come with the territory of having babies and we love our babies. I like that some women want to put what’s real out there cuz I think the perfection of celebrities and models is BS and I really do want people to appreciate all body types. But yeah, I won’t be shouting from the rooftops that my post-baby body is wonderful!

Amy 4 years ago

I just developed a disposable camera from 2001 (6 years before Girl Child was born). In one snap, I’m standing in from of the fountain at the Bellagio in Vegas, wearing low-slung jeans, a sleeveless top with a neckline plunged so low everyone in a 5 mile radius could see how creamy white my breasts were and a pair of sky-high hooker boots. My hair is styled, my eyebrows waxed, and I’m wearng make up.
I took one look at that girl and thought, “Who the hell is this b*tch and how did she get in here?” before I realized, HORRIFIED, that the b*tch was ME. {SOB!!!}

Jadzia@Toddlerisms 4 years ago

And that picture? I WISH I looked that good still–that looks like me after Baby #1, and yes there was whingeing and whining about the 1/2 inch of extra tummy that remained after losing “all” the weight. Ha ha ha ha ha. Now, 2 months after Baby #5, I basically get dressed with my eyes closed and am not thinking that is going to change anytime soon.

Mayor Gia 4 years ago

So true. I mean, I’m not a mom, but I hear you. Just because you’re a mother doesn’t mean you can ignore the all the images of “perfect” women in society.

Jeanne @ TheCommonSenseMama 4 years ago

Thank you for saying this! I saw the same picture the other day followed by several comments about stretch markes being a mothers ‘battle scar’ and ‘stripes of honor’. As nice as that sounds, it doesn’t change the fact that I will forever be self-conscious without clothes. Love my kids but, damn, I hate the stetch marks!

Great post!

Coffee Lovin’ Mom 4 years ago

Great Post! I saw that pic a couple days ago too – that looks good compared to mine!

tracey 4 years ago

I wish I didn’t feel the same as you do, but I do. It sucks to be squishy where I once was not and to have extra skin that, no matter how hard I tried (if I tried) would never, EVER go away…

I think what people are trying to do with the Photo Movements is to show women who are PRE CHILDREN what is in store for them. Not the photo shopped images of models and actresses who have unlimited funds available for surgeries and treatments. That’s not real. If we knew BEFORE we had kids, we might appreciate our bodies before getting pregnant. I know that I personally thought I was fat and unattractive pre kids. HAHAHAHAHAHHA! I was so cute! And HOT! I wish I could kick my own, younger version’s ass.