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The Camera Adds 15 Pounds (Colleen)

September 29, 2014

Previous post here.

My age: 30
I have two children, aged 5 years, and 22 months.

“The camera adds 15 pounds, you know.”

“What a stupid thing to say,” I always thought. “You look exactly the same in a picture as you do in person. So do I. It must just be something insecure people say so they don’t have to be in photos.”

Then I saw a picture of myself at 176 pounds.

176 pounds. That’s how much I weighed the day my first baby was born, according to the hospital scale. One day shy of 37 weeks pregnant, carrying 6.5 pounds of baby, and flooded with fluid from the IV that had been running into my arm and the water I’d been guzzling by mouth for three days straight. Only I wasn’t pregnant in the picture. Nor was I newly postpartum, like the weeks following my second birth. I was holding my 21-month-old and smiling at the camera. And I saw the picture and thought, “holy shit, I look fat.”

Fat. It’s a new concept to me. In my younger days I was tall, thin, and buxom. I was a size 5 without even trying. A 32F. Two dance classes a week were all the exercise I did and I never watched what I ate. My first pregnancy was the first time I ever broke 150. With my second pregnancy, starting with that extra 15 pounds from #1 that I never lost, I passed the 190 mark and was horrified when I looked at the scale.

For the first time in my life, I’m worried about my weight. For the first time in my adult life, I’m GAINING weight outside of pregnancy—rapidly, not just a pound here or there–and I don’t know why. After both births I shed about 20 pounds right away. With #1, that’s as far as I got. With #2, I was pleasantly surprised when another 10 pounds or so melted off in her first year. I’d like to take credit for it but I can’t; I’m pretty sure it was just because she nursed A LOT. Then around a year it stopped coming off and stayed, stubbornly, at 165. I started considering exercise. (Oh, who am I kidding? I’d been considering exercise since my first was born but was always too lazy to do it.)

A lot has happened in the last year. When my youngest was about seven months old my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. A bad one. And in the wake of that earth shattering news, I was finally able to put a label on a habit I’ve always had but never really thought about: I stress eat. I comfort with food. I bake ridiculous cakes and cookies and all kinds of tasty treats when I’m upset or when I think somebody else is upset. I’m bad at expressing my emotions and comforting others so I make them cookies instead. And then eat the cookies with them. Solace by sugar.

Fortunately the bad news quickly turned not-as-bad: it might be beatable. He had the best chance possible in his circumstances. With hope went away the desire to eat all the things. But hope wasn’t enough and seven months later, he was gone. Right before Thanksgiving. The baby was 14 months old—almost exactly the age I was when I lost my first grandfather. Cue the stress eating. Cue the holidays. Cue my mother-in-law passing onto us all of the high-calorie snack foods that she’d gotten to try to get him to eat something, anything, during his treatment. Cue my mother giving us all of the leftover soda from their Christmas party—a treat that I love, but don’t keep in the house to discourage me from consuming so much. And suddenly I wasn’t 165 anymore, I was gaining.

Then in February, I turned 30. Two months later, I weaned my youngest. And somewhere in all of this, my metabolism lay down and brazenly gave me the finger as it died. One day I stepped on the scale and it said 176, and I realized that I was going to have to DO something unless I wanted it to keep going up.

My thoughts on my body are divided. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I see my fat thighs—oh, my thighs. Where I gain all of my weight, where reside almost all of my stretch marks. When I was pregnant, and up 40 pounds, people said, “well you’re all belly, you haven’t gained any weight at all!” I’d smile and think, “That’s because I’m wearing a skirt and you can’t see my thighs.” I had to buy all new maternity pants at 9 months pregnant, not because of my belly, but because of my thighs. They chafe horribly in the summer, so I catch myself waddling whenever I wear a skirt, to try to relieve the pain. And I see my chin and neck, which gained a roll when I was pregnant that had never been there before. And I see my belly, growing now because I’m pretty sure my thighs are running out of room to hold the fat. I have a roll. In a public restroom the other day I unzipped my pants so I could sit down after my five-year-old was finished, and she said, “mommy, we’re having a baby, next month!” I looked at my belly and wanted to cry. It hasn’t been flat in a while but damnit, my five-year-old thinks I look pregnant.

Other times I look in the mirror and smile. I see my curves, I see my thin waist, I see my rather large breasts (usually, for these smiling sessions, I’m in a bra so they look nice and perky and I can’t see how far they sag after nearly three years of cumulative breastfeeding). I see a woman who doesn’t LOOK like she weighs nearly 180 pounds. I like that lady. I like those days.

One day I was getting ready to run errands, and in the process of doing so dancing around my room in a bra and underwear to the music playing on my iPod speaker. I boogied into the bathroom, looked in the mirror, and smiled. Smiled at that sexy lady in her underthings breaking it down to some good music. And in that smile, I noticed my toddler standing behind me, smiling and dancing as well.

Those are the days I want my daughters to remember. I want them to know a mom who thinks she’s beautiful whether she’s 140 or 180 pounds. I want them to remember a mom who didn’t complain about dieting all the time or how she looked or criticized her body in front of them. I want them to love their own bodies and be able to look in the mirror and smile.

It’s hard sometimes. Some days I just don’t feel it. I can’t look at pictures of myself without grimacing, at least on the inside. But I figure the best I can do is try to hide the occasional loathing from them, while trying to eat better and exercise more.

I was going to post last year at one year post-partum, like I did with my first. Then I got vain. I thought, well, I haven’t exercised much so why don’t I wait until 18 months to see if I can “improve”? And then at 18 months I was gaining, so I figured I’d wait until she was two. But you know what? Screw that. Here I am at 22 months post-partum, struggling with weight gain and so far unsuccessful with carrying an exercise plan past day two. But now I know it’s not the camera that adds 15 pounds. It’s LIFE. It’s excuses and exhaustion and chocolate (delicious, delicious chocolate) and laziness. But knowing is half the battle, right? Right?

These pictures are 22 months post partum. I included one to show the improvement I see when wearing a properly fitting bra—this was shortly after my post-weaning fitting, my first underwire bra in nearly two years. It’s a 32FF.

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One Year Later (Deanna)

September 23, 2014

~Age: 31
~Number of pregnancies and births: 1
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 1 year

My whole life I have been thin. I’m 5’5 and I was always around 110 pounds. During my pregnancy I did my best to eat healthy, however I ate a lot and ended up gaining 60 pounds. I never thought stretch marks or loose skin would be a problem as my mother has my shape and she bounces right back after my brother and I with not one mark on her. She was in a bikini a month later. Even at 60 her stomach looks great!

I rubbed lotions on all of the time. I couldn’t work out because I had really bad sciatica, and now that I look back I probably didn’t drink enough water. I didn’t have one stretch mark until the day BEFORE my darling daughter was born. They just came out like wildfire. ALL over my stomach. The first few months after she was born, my stomach was just so bad. Dark purple stretch marks, sagging skin, and wrinkles all over my stomach. I have managed to get my stretch marks down a lot, and I am back to 118 pounds, (which I am proud of) but my stomach is ruined. :( I feel like it will never be flat and smooth again. I have this little pooch that always sticks out. If I bend over gets REALLY wrinkly and just hangs. It is so depressing. My boyfriend even said it is bad. I don’t have any breasts really so I always figured my stomach sort of made up for it. I would love a second child, I am just SO terrified my body will get even worse. I feel so bad about myself.


3 months postpartum
6 months postpartum (side)
10 months postpartum (laying on side, wrinkles)
12 months (straight view)
12 months (side)
12 months (plank) :(((

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Breastless, disgusting and inadequate. (Anonymous)

September 19, 2014

Recently I’ve been feeling more and more self conscious about my breasts. I’ve tried hard to feel better about myself after large weight gains with my 2 pregnancies (4stone+) during each pregnancy. I lost it all after my second and went down to a size I was happy with. It’s slowly creeping back on. Weight is something I can control just about… what I can’t control is the feeling of disgust when I look at my breasts in the mirror. I don’t even fit into bras properly- i’m guessing i’m a 34AA… they’re horrible, saggy, flat, just plain disgusting. I wear push up bras but feel even worse when my husband tries to grab a feel … as all he gets is padding. I feel like I’ve let him down.

It’s demoralising, I feel like a fake woman, so unsexy and gross. I’ve seen him stare sometimes at other women, for only a few seconds, nothing major to most people but to me, it’s a reminder of what I can’t give him, what I want to give him – bigger breasts and being able to feel sexy and something he can be proud about when I’m with him (of course I know boobs aren’t everything but it feels like it sometimes). I just can’t shake it, it’s been almost 6 years, of constantly feeling jealous of other women, no matter how big their breasts are… mine are nothing in comparison. I have massive gaping holes between them, I have to constantly wear tops that don’t show cleavage as mine is a gaping hole, only supported by giant padded bras… when I take the bra off I’m flat and horrid. Even during sex etc, I feel like when he touches my chest- it’s so disappointing because there’s nothing there anymore. I would love to win the lottery and get surgery – I’ve even mentioned it to my husband- he doesn’t know how to respond- knowing he’s treading on egg shells as to how I would react whether he agreed or disagreed. I can’t mention the topic to him anymore because he denies looking at anyone else, he says it’s all in my head, that he doesn’t know what else he can do. I’m sure to some extent he’s right, but in other ways, I’m not hallucinating when I see him eyeing someone, even if by accident or however brief it may be.

I feel he’ll jump ship when he comes across someone who is happier with themselves, happy with life and with their body … I can’t seem to give him that. Since kids, I’m stressed, depressed, tired, snappy, jealous and feel worthless. I can’t see how my family love me for who I am as I don’t feel like i’m very nice to be around or look at. I’m tempted to go to the GP but I know they’ll only try and prescribe anti depressants which I’m not keen on doing- they won’t bring me new breasts. I was never large to start off with- an average 34 B and have always felt inadequate. I went to a massive 36E during pregnancy because I had put a lot of weight on. I’m 5″3 and at my heaviest when pregnant was 15 stone. (with baby inside!). I’m now 9stone 2 and ideally want to go back to 8st 7lbs which is what I weighed this time last year- but that’s a different story- it won’t help my lack of breast tissue. Any miracle cures to increasing breast size or just feeling better? I feel sick every time we are around other women, even family, thinking how much bigger they are in the chest area – how more attractive they are. I feel sick like I’m so disgusting without any breasts and so unsexy- I hate it. I’m even nervous about my husband going to work and meeting someone there because they’d have more to offer than me. That’s just breasts… stomach is another issue but I can cope with that much better, even if my belly button looks wrinkly and horrible- I can conceal that ok. Any advice greatly appreciated.

~Age: 33
~Number of pregnancies and births: 2
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 6 and 3

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