The Unique Shape of a Mother

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Today’s guest post is written by a woman who has been an inspiration to me and countless others: January Harshe also known as Mrs. BWF.  The Birth Without Fear (BWF) blog and Facebook page encourage women to have empowering births and Mrs. BWF is the creator.  As she says, “It is my hope that all women can learn there is no need to fear birth. Fear is what can cause pain and lead to interventions during labor and birth!”  With great admiration I share with you her first ever guest post.

 

You may have recently read this article with pictures from Plus Size Model Magazine, that shows how beautiful a plus size model really is compared to a very thin, unhealthy model. Unfortunately, most girls think they need to look anorexic to be beautiful.

When comparing the two, in such an eye opening way, it is more obvious how ridiculous it is to be putting ourselves (and other women) down for not being skinny. Personally, I find the plus size model much more attractive, don’t you?

Hopefully you have read the, “Mom, I’m Fat” article over at the HuffPost Parents. It sends a message that we are all different and to make sure we set that example for our daughters.

I stand her up on the step stool in front of the mirror. I strip off my yoga pants, my tee shirt, my bra and underwear. We are side by side completely naked together. She laughs. I start singing a song that I’m making up as I go. It’s rap meets Raffi with lyrics like “We are perfect, just the way we are.” It’s wild and silly, but I cannot be stopped. We’re shaking everything, and she’s belly laughing and totally thrilled.”

I recently shared this picture from a mother showing her stretch marks accompanied by a beautiful poem. A wonderful example of embracing our body instead of hating it. Our bodies create and nourish another human being. It is disappointing that we find ways to diminish that, instead of celebrating such a miracle.

I am sure you have heard, “Marilyn Monroe was a size 12!”

Well, she wasn’t necessarily a size 12. She had a wicked awesome hourglass figure (and she worked that figure!). Too bad we never got to see her with a baby bump. A gorgeous ‘plus size’ pregnant woman she would have been!

In our fast paced, high technology, ever changing society, it’s a ‘go go go’ mentality where everyone is comparing themselves. Especially mothers. Unfortunately our unique bodies are not spared from this very harsh criticism.

I am not suggesting a free-for-all binge or using this as an excuse to forgo good health. However, even with a healthy lifestyle, we are all different. Even plus size mothers can take good care of themselves and love their bodies.

I want to show the diversity of Birth Without Fear mothers and the unique beauty they each possess. Each one unique and stunning.

Marquita

Marquita

 

Jenny K.

Jenny K.

 

Michelle

Michelle

 

Rebecca, 41 weeks

Rebecca, 41 weeks

 

Janeen

 

Eva R.

 

Monica

Monica

 

Chelsea

Chelsea

 

Jen

Jen

 

Hillary

 

Catherine

 

Shandi

Shandi

 

Niki went into labor 3 hours after picture taken!

 

Dazmine

 

Becky T.

Becky T.

 

Natalie, who is 6'3"!

 

MarthLynn

MarthLynn

 

Mrs. BWF, 41 weeks. Unique and learning to love it along with you.

Mrs. BWF, 41 weeks. Unique and learning to love it along with you.

 

If we can continue to share these real images and posts, we may be able to at least offset the images and expectations put on us by the media, fashion industry, and then ourselves when we take over for them. Take care of yourself. Go on walks, laugh, play, eat a balanced diet and love yourself. If we can get out of the way, it really is that simple.

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. Reannan Keene

    January 20, 2012

    Beautiful Post. Every woman looks beautiful in their own skin. Good Job!

    • genna french

      July 16, 2012

      i believe u are right , i am a mom of a 3 yrs old and i have a feeling i am going to be a plus size mom again when i we try for are second child too. so bye bye for now take care .

  2. Cynthia Vasiento

    January 20, 2012

    I love seeing how different we are as women, but ultimately the same, in that we are given the gift of motherhood and our bodies were created in any shape or form to do it!

  3. Mindy

    January 20, 2012

    Oh, these pictures are so beautiful! I keep looking. And looking.

  4. N

    January 21, 2012

    That’s nice that this page starts with a little hate for slim women, and links to a page that ends with the same sort of hate.

    I am a size 0/00 — I’m not “unhealthy.” (What evidence is there to support the claim that the thin model in the photo is “unhealthy”?) I am not anorexic or otherwise troubled by my relationship with food; I eat quite well and enjoy it. I have always been slim. Same with most members of my family, and now, same with my daughter.

    Surely it is possible to celebrate all shapes without crapping on everyone at the smaller end of the shape range? This isn’t healthy either, crapping on low BMI while celebrating overweight BMI. Either we’re all people and it’s all good, or…

    • R.

      April 6, 2012

      Thank you, N. I’ve been thin my whole life. Post pregnancy I weighed 103 pounds, as a breastfeeding mother. It’s called a high metabolism. I don’t make fun of fat people and I expect the same respect in return.

    • C

      July 29, 2013

      I agree N, I am a size 0/1 and I’m in high school. I hear a lot about how ‘plus size’ girls are bullied, but the same applies for thin girls. I am actually unable to have a conversation about clothes with some of the people in my school because “not everyone can be thin” and “you’re anorexic. Thin people aren’t pretty you know” and it actually hurts to see articles saying that the ‘thin’ model is less pretty than the ‘plus size’ model. And I don’t think that anorexia and bulimia are the worst problems in the world. I’m going to get a lot of hate for this, but last I heard, the biggest problem in a lot of countries was obesity, not anorexia or bulimia. Instead of sending a ‘healthy’ message to girls my age, could it be the opposite?

  5. Wendy

    January 21, 2012

    This is a great post, and the pictures are beautiful!

    I’ve been told I’m a woman other women “love to hate” because I can’t GAIN weight, and I think that’s ridiculous! Our society is so hung up on being thin. Yes, weight can be a health concern, but it’s not something to be ashamed of, and certainly shouldn’t dictate the attractiveness of a woman! Many, many men are much more attracted to “larger” women, and that’s how it should be. Our differences should be celebrated!

    You know something? My children are now too big to feel that I can protect and comfort them as well as they want, and they turn to my husband…or my sister who has more padding. That hurts.

    I often wish that I had some more softness to my body. To comfort my children and, frankly, to look like that “plus size” model. I think she’s fabulous, as are all the women in these pictures.

    • Megan

      January 21, 2012

      @Wendy, exactly its always the same with these plus sized articles. Yes every women of every size is beautiful in their own way but they always have the need to put down others. I know women that think their fat at a 5, I understand that there is pressure from the media to be skinny but I’ve heard just as much shit putting down women that are sticks, rail thin, bones and skin, “unhealthy”. You have no idea if that model is anorexic and you saying that she is less attractive because she is really thin is being just as judgemental. I understand large women get all sorts of negative comments but you aren’t helping the cause byputting down women that aren’t plus size. I am a size 0 4 weeks post pardum. I eat like nobodies business but didn’t stop people from making comments in school that I needed to gain weight, or I had no curves. Don’t put other people down to prove a point.

    • Breanna

      January 21, 2012

      I am also like you, I have never been able to gain weight (unless pregnant, but then it comes off fast…even when I try to keep on that last 5lbs). People will tell me that I’m lucky but then turn around and ask me if i have an eating disorder or say I’m unhealthy. I am neither unhealthy or “lucky” I am just me. Yes, i would like to have a little more meat on my bones too though haha. It’s just not something that happens. Just wanted to say I know how you feel.

      I thought this was a great post, it’s good to embrace who we are, big or small…As well as embrace others for who they are. It’s important for our future as human beings to do this.

      • Wendy

        January 21, 2012

        Yeah, my husband thinks it’s funny because I only gain weight when I’m pregnant…but, boy, do I ever gain weight when I’m pregnant!

        In my first pregnancy I went from 100 pounds to 160 pounds in 9 months. I don’t know how my body kept up with it, especially since the vast majority of that was from 16 weeks to 42 weeks!

        Strangely enough, in my second pregnancy I gained the same amount of weight but looked even huger (I know that’s not a word :D) than the first time. DH says the first time I looked like I had a basketball under my shirt. And the second looked like a beach ball!

  6. plussizebirth

    January 21, 2012

    @N the author of this guest post is talking about the expectations put on women by the media, fashion industry, and pretty much everywhere you look. She was also responding to another article at the beginning of the post. Of course all women are beautiful but plus size women don’t receive that message very much within our skinny obsessed society. This article was intended to uplift those who are made to feel as if their bodies are something they should be ashamed of.

    • Megan

      January 21, 2012

      My first reply was for N, sorry Wendy.

      Uplifiting those who are made to feel as if their bodies are something to be ashamed of.

      That’s fine if that’s what the article did but her saying the plus size women is more attractive and the other women is unhealthy isn’t making people that naturally look like that feel good about themselves. I felt ashamed of my body all through out school because I had no curves whatsoever and “real women have curves.” Its not right to put down all skinny people to prove a point.

      • Wendy

        January 21, 2012

        I’m sorry for my snarky reply to your reply that was supposed to be for N. Does that make sense? I hope so. Anyway, that was not my finest moment, and I am truly sorry :(.

        No, putting down skinny people to make “plus size” people feel better isn’t good, but I really don’t see that here. What I see is someone stating the opinion that the plus size model is prettier than the skinny one. An opinion that is just as valid as, but less accepted than, the opposite one.

        It is hard to have a straight-up-and-down shape when you want to have that hourglass figure, isn’t it?

        When you think about it, though, we can’t really win. I know my sister feels bad about herself, as she’s heavier than she’d like to be. But, then, I feel bad because I’m not as curvy and soft as I’d like.

        I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as women to be how we think others want us to be, and it’s not fair or fun on either end.

        When it comes right down to it, we should all be supporting each other and seeing each other and ourselves as beautiful in our own rights! Stand up and be proud of being a woman, whether skinny or fat or neither!

    • R.

      April 6, 2012

      Let’s not “uplift” people at the expense of others.

  7. Shay

    January 21, 2012

    Love this post {so beautiful!} and I love what you & January are doing to help support women! You guys rock! ♥

  8. Aly

    January 21, 2012

    @Wendy, I don’t know who you are or what you look like but your post shows you have as beautiful heart as any…And your love will soon teach your children to love themselves and all people regardless of size or shape. I really liked this article it made my day!

  9. Frs

    January 21, 2012

    I’m not seeing the skinny hate. I guess I’d be consider slim. At 5’8″ I typically wear a size 4. That said, I’ve been on both sides on the fence, being a formerly plus size mommy, and remember all too well the fat phobia and intense pressure to look like something else. Too often, that something else is unattainable for us. Despite my weight loss, I will never have a flat stomach. And that’s ok. My children are worth it. I’ve also had some nasty comments from OBs when I was heavier. Despite me being “too big” at the time, according to them, I was able to push out my 9 pound baby au naturale in my living room. Ladies, our bodies are amazing! Let’s celebrate that and not get hung up on unrealistic ideals. if you’re happy and you’re healthy then that’s all that matters!

    • MoniB

      August 2, 2014

      Thank you for your comment. I can see how it could be construed that there was hate in the article but that’s not what I saw either. I found this link because I was looking for plus size pregnancy support. I have an appointment with my ob on Monday and each one worries me because from the beginning I’ve heard nothing but issues about having a high bmi. There were multiple places that wouldn’t even take me as a patient because I was a health risk. This is my first child and I have been scared out of my mind on all sides. Reading this article and looking at the site that brought me to it started to make me feel better. Then I started reading the comments ans it brought me back down. So seriously, on the brink of tears, I thank you for being a bright note in this sea of cat scratching and issues. If anyone else reads this I hope that it helps you feel better too, or lets you know that occasionally throwing barbs hurts more than you’d think so in the future consider people like me and act accordingly.

      • plussizebirth

        August 2, 2014

        Thank you Moni and I sure wish you all the best with your pregnancy!

      • eB

        August 2, 2014

        Please come check out the Plus Size Mommy Memoirs forum on Facebook. Lots of support to be found there, and lots of other moms out there like you!

  10. isabella

    January 21, 2012

    Not to be the type of person who has to be “different”, but what about “normal” women!? Being underweight or overweight aren’t the only two options. We all have strange relationships with food, admit it. Food in America is so schitzo, rich people have the best quality food and they are skinny, the poorest people often have to eat McDonalds. And they are fat. Or not. But what I am saying is that very few of us have a healthy relationship with food, because of the world that we live in. I am hispanic and most of my family is fat. Those that are more recently immigrated are thinner, much closer to “average”. I think this is mostly because they enjoy eating, cooking, and it is a social activity within the family.

  11. Mya Maternity

    January 21, 2012

    Every woman is different and every woman is beautiful!!! Being pregnant just adds to the beauty. It is amazing.

  12. Birth Without Fear

    January 21, 2012

    I have seen my guest post shared around FB. A few ‘skinny’ women have chosen (yes, chosen) to get offended by it. I have also seen many ‘skinny’ women say they are such and they LOVE this post.

    It was aimed for a plus size group. I made it clear (so I thought) that there is DIVERSITY among women and shared pictures of women all shapes and sizes…skinny to plus size. The main point of the article though, was to address the stigma that women are not beautiful unless very very thin. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with women who are thin AND healthy, the point is that there is nothing wrong with women who are not thin AND healthy. I hope that clears it up a little as it was not mean to offend anyone. I think you are all beautiful!

    -January

  13. Amy

    January 21, 2012

    I see diversity and many varieties of beauty in the pictures here! I am usually at a weight that is considered to be “thin,” average, normal or healthy for my height, neither very underweight nor overweight. Right now, I still have 20 pounds of baby weight left at 8 weeks postpartum and don’t fit it into my pre-pregnancy clothes. I won’t lie…I’d like to be thin again, but, more importantly, I hope to be strong, fit and healthy. As far as the women in the top photo, I can see why one might consider the so-called plus-size model (who, by the way, does not look overweight or fat AT ALL!!!) to be more attractive. It’s not because all skinny women are unattractive or unhealthy, by any means. It’s because the bigger lady look like a (soft, sexy) grown woman, whereas the littler one looks like a little girl. Why should we have to look like pre-pubescent girls (no body fat whatsoever, no curves, no pubic hair) or skeletons with implants, in order to be considered attractive by men, the media, the modeling world, or ourselves?

  14. Brooke

    January 23, 2012

    I loved the pictures and thoughts expressed in this blog. I feel sad that the comments exemplify what was being talked about…. as women, we are so unsure of our appearance that we feel attacked by anything that is called beautiful that does not look like us. I do not believe the article was meant to hold one body type over another, just to say that we are ALL who we are and beautiful. The fact that some people are naturally thin is great, but most people are not and many young girls today are trying hard to fit a body type they do not have the genes for. I also have to make the comment to the “normal” body type… what is normal really?
    We should just celebrate our own personal beauty and that of those we love. We should the magic we hold in the ability to make, have, and feed our children. We are wonderous and strong becuase we are WOMEN.

  15. Anna

    January 16, 2013

    This is so insulting! I have the thin, unhealthy woman’s shape and guess what, I like it. Weigh 50kg at 170cm and that’s how it suits me. It’s normal for the country I come from, women are thin and petite looking. Whether its genetics, diet or combination of both, I’m thin and can’t be curvy. I once got up to 56kg and had fat face and excess meat, no curves, just flab. Just can’t be curvy, same as some curvy or big boned girl can’t be skinny. Stop promoting either one, as the way you look does not depend on you that much.

  16. Chargis

    January 25, 2013

    I’m fat, I have been my whole life. While I hope someday fat phobia will be a thing of the past, we can’t expect to end prejudice if we partake in it. Describing a thin model as “unhealthy” based on her body is just as off putting as saying a fat woman can’t have a healthy pregnancy. Looks cannot reveal health, fat or thin.

  17. EB

    May 26, 2014

    The beginning of this article left an unpleasant taste in my mouth, and it’s not because I am not part of the intended audience. At 311 lbs I am very much a plus-sized mom! I can look past the parts of the article that bother me (primarily calling others “unhealthy” and stating that one physical shape is better looking than the other), but I can’t endorse this article, nor will I share. I think that the language is too decisive and therefore will not reach the people who need to be reached. I wish the author would have considered this, or that she would be more open to realizing how the words she chose for this piece are a real problem for many people and do not help us all reach the common goal of loving and celebrating all bodies.

  18. EB

    May 26, 2014

    decisive was meant to be “divisive.” Sigh.

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