The 4th Trimester Bodies Project caught my eye when they were continuously banned from Facebook for sharing breastfeeding images. Yet, it wasn’t the controversy that grabbed my attention, it was the breathtaking images of mothers of all sizes, shapes, and colors.
I couldn’t stop looking through the online gallery of women standing proud, many with babies in their arms or young children by their side, wearing only a black bra and black underwear.
Each unique photograph proved that postpartum looks different for every woman and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Every image not only told a story on its own but also came with the woman’s motherhood memoir. I witnessed not only the physical representation but the emotional side too as I learned about each mother’s journey.
As I looked at photo after photo, I admired each mother’s courage but never foresaw myself baring it all for the 4th Trimester Bodies Project. That was until I made virtual acquaintance with Ashlee Wells Jackson, the founder and photographer behind this amazing project.
Being a body love advocate can be difficult work so connecting with others that share your passion is divine. Ashlee and I clicked right away and kept writing one another love notes via our Instagram posts.
When Ashlee asked me to participate in her project, I couldn’t say no even though part of me really wanted to. While I’ve shared countless full-body images online, along with boudoir photos, I’ve never shown my bare belly or thighs. I can honestly say I love my body but, let’s be honest, there’s a few steps between loving your body and baring it all on the internet.
Yet, something deep down told me I could trust myself and my body with Ashlee even though we had never met in real life. So, on a brisk Friday the 13th, I arrived at a home in downtown Denver with a black bra and undies stuffed in my purse.
What unfolded during our time together was pure bliss! Ashlee and Laura (her project partner) made me feel like their dear friend from the moment I walked through the door. It wasn’t fake in any way. The love they have for each woman who participates in their project is genuine and was such a gift.
I could share details about our time together and the process of being photographed, however, it feels incredibly sacred to me. It’s something that can’t fully be expressed in writing but needs to be experienced first-hand. I will share that when I decided upon my final image, I burst into tears! It’s beyond anything I could’ve imagined because I not only look beautiful, nearly naked, but Ashlee truly capture me. My happiness. My love for myself and my body. She captured an image that so perfectly represents my journey to self-love and my desire for others to walk down their own body love path.
I want to share with you some video footage I took during that very special evening. You can get a taste of the indescribable love and joy I felt through this lens.
Baring it all for the 4th Trimester Bodies Project changed my life. It brought my body love journey to a whole new level. The responses I’ve received have taken my breath away.
I can’t stop staring at your photo and the pics of the other women. So beautiful on so many levels. What a gift you’re all giving to all women everywhere by being so naked and vulnerable. Note to the world: This is what women look like! Not what you see on the cover of the magazines at the grocery story. Like these gorgeous goddesses. Thank you Jen. Thank you a million times. Projects like this create so much compassion in the world. So many thousands of Moms out there can finally exhale and realize, “ok, we’re all human. Our bodies are beautiful.”
Chrystal Bougon, Curvy Girl Lingerie
As mothers, we’re under immense pressure to be “better” in pretty much every way possible. From our parenting strategies to our bodies, we’re often told we’re not working hard enough regardless of how much time and effort we’re actually putting in to our lives. When The 4th Trimester Bodies Project reached out to my dear friend and business partner Jen, I couldn’t have dreamt of a better pairing. This project is pushing for the acceptance of the MomBod, no matter the size, shape or color of its owner. Jen is, by definition, the poster child for Mommy Body Love, fighting for mothers to love themselves inside and out, unconditionally. As more people (not just mothers!) see 4th Trimester’s beautiful images of mothers and their bodies, we’ll evolve into a culture that is more loving and accepting of moms, just as they are, with no expectation or pressure to be “better” in any way at all.
Amanda Edwards, Peachie Moms
I love the work that the 4th trimester bodies project does because they are taking on the real complexity of women’s lives. There is so much stigma and stereotyping thrust upon us when we become mothers – and no matter what our bodies look like our roles shift in response to this cultural perception. Moms are often understood as no longer sexy – a drag, tired workhorses who do for everyone – and because our beauty ideals are so shallow and inhumane – women who become moms often mourn the permeant body changes that come with pregnancy and motherhood. The 4th trimester bodies project reminds us that humanity is beauty – that beauty isn’t some particular shape, size or figure – beauty is found in the multifaceted complexity of a life lived and our bodies are an exquisite record of all sexy, messy, sad, complicated, and delightful experiences that we lived.
Lindsey Averill, Fattitude the Movie
As I shared in the video, it was an honor to be photographed for this project! I truly encourage anyone who is open to participating to do so. If this is too far out of your comfort zone, please support their work by following the 4th Trimester Bodies on Instagram and Facebook.
I will forever be thankful to Ashlee and Laura for the work they’re doing. They are transforming the way mothers view their bodies, one image at a time.
You can see my gallery page for the 4th Trimester Bodies Project and read my motherhood memoir here.
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