“So many women are craving REAL bodies and REAL life, not photoshopped fairy tales”
For most mothers, there’s the body we had Before Kids and the body we have After Kids. While we can all appreciate that our bodies are strong and amazing vessels for creating and sustaining human life, accepting our new bodies isn’t exactly easy. Which is why one mom and her mom friends decided to take a photo celebrating their diverse post-baby bodies in a truly beautiful way.
Bethanie Garcia, a mother and blogger from Arizona, initially shared the photo to her Instagram account, The Garcia Diaries, captioning the moment with the perfect quote. “Real women are fat and thin and both, and neither and otherwise.” -Hanne Blanke
She tagged three of her friends featured in the image, too. All four women had been friends for a year after meeting online, and then met in real life at a recent conference. Thus, the idea for this amazing photo was born.
Garcia tells Scary Mommy that after having four children ages five and under, her body has gone through a lot of changes during the past six years. “Five pregnancies, one miscarriage, pre-term labor, meningitis, gallbladder removal surgery, four vaginal births,” she explains. “Learning to accept my body has been a huge process for me and I’m still on the journey to LOVING my body.”
She says sharing her journey with her blog audience helped create a supportive community of women and moms. “So many women are craving REAL bodies and REAL life, not photoshopped fairy tales – I know I was for the longest time and that’s what inspired me to start sharing photos about body positivity.”
Another woman featured in the photo, Meg Boggs, created the hashtag #This_Is_Postpartum to showcase exactly how different postpartum life looks for every woman. Boggs asked Garcia and two other moms, Desiree Fortin and Katie Crenshaw, to collaborate on the social media project with her. When they finally met at a blogging conference a few weeks ago, they decided to take the photo.
“Our hope in taking the photo was that it would reach women who didn’t feel that their body types were represented in media,” Garcia tells Scary Mommy. “If it helped even ONE woman, we would be grateful and happy. And it did.”
The photo has since been re-posted all over Instagram and other social media outlets, as well as national programs like TODAY and The View. It’s clearly struck a chord with mothers everywhere, because so many of us feel pressure to “bounce back” or to force our bodies to look like we’ve never birthed a child. In reality, most — if not all — of us struggle with body image. And photos like these help us all feel a little less alone.
Fortin says she also struggled to accept her “dramatically different” body after giving birth to triplets. “It took almost two years for me to gain a new, fresh, and beautiful perspective of my new body-the sag, stretch marks, extra skin, all of it,” Fortin tells Scary Mommy. “I can now look at my body and see so much beauty. This perspective planted a seed of passion to encourage every woman out there to accept their bodies as well!”
After receiving the standard round of body-shaming, snarky comments from trolls, Garcia promptly addressed all the naysayers: “If you look at this photo and your first thought is ‘why are there no skinny women,’ you have bigger issues to deal with, my friend. You can look literally anywhere: film, TV, Instagram, magazines, video games and see skinny women. Other body types are absolutely underrepresented in media and it causes women with those body types to feel less than… to feel like they’re not good enough.”
Because of society’s unrealistic and misogynistic standard of making mothers feel less than, we spend far too much time beating ourselves up about our bodies and how they change after carrying a child. Imagine how much lighter our mental burden would be if we celebrated more images like this one in popular culture. It’s nothing less than every last one of us deserves.