“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.”
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You are allowed to be BOTH a masterpiece and work in progress simultaneously. You don’t have to explain wanting to feel AND see change. You can fully embrace where you are WHILE looking ahead at where you’re going. All while smiling, breaking down, and questioning it at times every step of the way. Today, I snapped a quick photo and smiled. Because I see the girl who is finally ALLOWING herself to search for the balance in it all. ✨
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.”
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68% of American women are "plus-size", yet only 2% of women's clothing carried by major retailers is plus-size. Representation is important. Options are important. All sizes deserve to feel comfortable, fashionable and beautiful in their clothes. You may have read about Victoria's Secret's recent position on plus-size models. I wanted to join in on the #EveryWomanIsAnAngel movement and tell you this: We don't need pop culture to define our worth. We don't need a televised fashion show to prove that EVERYbody is beautiful or important. The words and mission of a historically non-inclusive brand were loud, but the beautiful women with bodies outside of their mold are LOUDER. (Just check out the hashtag.) Every. Woman. Is. An. Angel. ❤️ (inspired by @thebirdspapaya)
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.
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Strong. Brave. Empowered. Beautiful. United. MOTHERS. • There is something really special about uniting together on our Motherhood journeys, supporting and empowering one another despite how different we may be in all of our journeys as Mothers. • Motherhood is one of the most challenging experiences I have ever faced. I’ve struggled in my own journey of highs and lows as a Mother. I’ve walked through postpartum depression and anxiety. I’ve faced feelings of uncertainty and questioned my value and if I really am enough. The truth is, most of us don’t have a clue what we are doing and I think that really is what Motherhood is. At times we are too hard on ourselves focusing too much on what we are lacking, but what about what we are doing great and amazing! • Last summer, my daughter almost drowned. I blamed myself for a long time. Yet, my daughter, helped change my perspective. Anytime she talks about her accident she says with the biggest smile, “Mama, you SAVED me!!” Perspective is everything in parenting. You are valued Mama. You are loved. You are meeting the hearts of your children every single day. Hard days happen, but Mama, you are doing great! • There is something that bonds every single one of us as Mothers, and it is the incredible and overwhelming love we share for our children. We all understand that kind of love. That kind of love unites and empowers us to encourage and love on each other! Keep you doing YOU Mama. • Bra/undies: @kindredbravely #bravemomsunite #BraveMomAd #BeBravely #KindredBravely #Ad • Check out the Kindred Bravely website using my link bit.ly/ThePerfectMom and use discount code "PERFECT20" to receive 20% for those in the US
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!”
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“Is this an advertisement for why women should get tummy tucks?”⠀ ⠀ “Why aren’t there any fit women in this photo? Not every postpartum body is fat and loose.”⠀ ⠀ “Why has society made it ok to bash women who bounce back yet glorify women who can’t lose weight?”⠀ ⠀ “How about dieting?”⠀ ⠀ “Posts like this bother me. Not losing the weight is a choice.”⠀ ⠀ “I’m a mother of 4 but I’m also a smokin’ hot wife because that’s my duty. No way I’d be happy or settle to look like this.”⠀ ⠀ “Photos like this tear women apart.”⠀ ⠀ “So, you’re saying that skinny women don’t have real bodies?”⠀ ⠀ Just a small sample of the comments we’ve received over the past few days since our original post went live. It’s a shame that the point has been completely missed by some of the people that have taken time out of their day to comment. (The point being: the four of us have been friends online for a long time and finally met IRL and took a last minute photo together…of our different postpartum body types…to show that all body types are beautiful.)⠀ ⠀ 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.⠀ ⠀ I want to encourage anyone who felt the need to leave any of the above comments to dig deeper, self-reflect, gain some perspective, learn. Your comment says WAY fucking more about you than it does about us.⠀ ⠀ Be better. // @katiemcrenshaw @theperfectmom @meg.boggs ♥️
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.