I still remember the joy of my first birth with my son. I was 21 years old. When I found out I was pregnant it was so exciting, but what I was not ready for was the stretch marks and the awful body that came with it. My whole life I have been physically fit. I always had a great body and prided myself on having worked so hard to look healthy. During my first birth I worked out and ran nearly every day and to no avail. Days after my joy had come into the world came the shame and disappointment. I became severely depressed and to top it off my first husband shamed me more by repeatedly looking at Porn and then saying to one of his friends, “ If I were single I would do her friend I am trying to hook you up with.” I was so embarrassed and pretended to not hear the comment. Several years went by and eventually we divorced for a multitude of reasons. After the divorce I had trouble dating and being intimate with people because of my stomach. I would wear long shirts to bed, never wore anything that was remotely form fitting, and I was embarrassed and disgusted with how other women looked at me and judged me when I would change. It has been a gut wrenching journey. I went through dating multiple people, until one guy was honest and made fun of the stretch marks that I
had during an argument and called me fat and disgusting repeatedly. I felt my pride hit an all time low. We continued dating and I eventually broke up with him. I joined the military and became even more physically fit and while in the Army met a man I really liked. We were at training together and the other women around me were trying very hard for his attention. They would tell him that I was disgusting to look at and that despite what I looked like in clothing I was an ugly and disgusting person physically. Now I know I should not let what people say hurt me and being that I am a master’s trained therapist, I did exactly what I would tell my patient’s not to do…. I allowed it to crush the last of any self- confidence I was already lacking. The guy ended up not caring about what they said and continued to date me and eventually we married. I still would never get undressed in front of him and it strongly inhibited our sex life. He would tell me it didn’t matter and that he loved me, but then I got pregnant and again I worked out every day and tried to maintain my physical fitness. I gained 23 pounds and then went into distress during my second delivery and they pumped me with fluids. I gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby again. However, he doesn’t touch me like he used to anymore and I now weigh 163 lbs. I am trying hard to lose the weight, but every day I look at myself I hate what I see. To make matters worse before I gave birth to my daughter I found out that he had been contacting women via facebook to flirt with and making propositions to. I was crushed even more. He said he did it because we were having problems, but now he claims that he finds me just as attractive and beautiful and even more so because I am more curvy after having our child. I can’t get over it and I cannot let it go. It is so hard to look at myself in the mirror every day. I want to throw up at what I see and I don’t see beauty anywhere. I walk around in sweats or lounge clothes all the time because I feel so fat and disgusting and the stretch marks make it worse because they are permanent. I am so grateful for my beautiful children, but there are days that I have selfish thoughts and wish that I never had any children just so I can remember what it feels like to have self-esteem again. It’s horrible and I feel so trapped and hateful about myself. I don’t feel as if I will ever be thought of as pretty again and I don’t feel connected to my husband in any way as a result and I barely have sex anymore because all I can imagine is that he is thinking of someone else. THIS IS SAD TO WRITE and I am going to be 30 next month and I can’t find anything to love about me, but I love my kids more than life itself and I would not trade anything in the world for them.
I am 22 years old, just had my first baby 3 months ago. I went from being very skinny my whole life, to having some volume added to my body. I don’t mind the extra weight, but I do mind my belly (look like im 3 months pregnant again), and my breasts (they used to be perky and beautiful, now they look like a used, saggy balloon) I didn’t get any stretch marks until the day before I had my son. Everytime I have sex with my boyfriend I think about my gross body, it doesn’t help that my stitches from the episiotomy hurt like hell when doing it. My boyfriend tells me how much he loves my body now and everyone else tells me I look better with the weight, its not that I care about, its the belly, breasts, and stretch marks… my vagina doesn’t look the same either. I cant wear a bikini anymore… I barely look in the mirror anymore. I know I just need to tell myself that theyre battle wounds. I hate the way I look now, but I wouldn’t take it back… I have my son and hes all I need <3
~Age: 22 years old
~Number of pregnancies and births: 1 pregnancy and 1 birth
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 3 months & 1 week
1 pregnancy & 1 child
3 year old child
I want to start this off by saying that I have been following SOAM for a couple years now and never felt confident enough to submit my photos. I was in a very unhealthy relationship for 9 yrs with the father of my child. Just before I became pregnant, I was in the best shape of my life, I had never been more confident with my body image. I am a Martial Arts instructor. My pregnancy was extremely stressful, I had a partner who was abusing drugs and other non sense. I’m 5’2 and I weighed 130lbs before I got pregnant. At 9 months with my 8lb baby girl I weighed 185lbs. I wasn’t exercising during my pregnancy and could have been eating in a more healthy way. I wanted to have a natural delivery, but had to have an emergency C-section since my daughter was breech. After delivery, I was so unhappy with my body and i was still in an toxic relationship. I may have been suffering from PPD but I’m too proud for my own good most of the time and felt guilty telling the truth when i was assessed for PPD. I struggled with the pregnancy weight all through the first 2 years, I’m very active but I had to take control of my diet to get to where I am now.
I still feel like I am hiding. No one would believe it when I seem to be the most confident, bubbly and bad ass ( am I allowed to say bad ass on SOAM? Editor’s note: Hell yes you are!) lady that have ever met but I put on a good show. In actuality, my insecurities could eat me alive. My life has changed a lot in the past year as I got out of an abusive relationship and have been trying to find myself again after those 9 years. I just completed my first year of university. I’m a over achiever and a perfectionist, nothing is ever good enough for me. I am getting honors in school but its not good enough. I would consider myself a feminist and I am very aware of the false messages prescribed by the media to men and women concerning what the ideal body image is. I can think about it logically and I have great respect to the women who can take a stand against it but emotionally with myself, inside my own head I cant do it.
I guess I have my good days and my really bad ones. Some days I feel like it is getting better and I’m regaining my muscle definition. Its not my stretch marks that bother me but my loose skin and extra fat does. Everyday I run at least 3 miles and exercise, on top of my martial arts training and some days I feel like I’m seeing progress and other days I cant beat my naked self up in front of the mirror at least 4 times a day. I can take forever to get dressed, trying on pants after pants and hating how my tummy sticks out over top. I count calories obsessively and feel guilty if I don’t run far enough. I want exercise and diet to be a choice of health and not trying to achieve this aesthetic perfection.
Who would think a topless rights activist would be standing nude infront of her mirror eaten alive by her insecurities?