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Well, I did not actually go to the Con itself because passes are expensive and next to impossible to get even if I could afford it. But as the Con overflows the convention center more and more each year, all of Downtown San Diego winds up hosting a ton of free events so I went for those.

What does Comic Con have to do with postpartum body image? Nothing. But also a lot. As I participated in events and met various cosplayers (AND MISHA COLLINS YOU GUYS), I had some thoughts that extend beyond the Con and into Life in general.

Chewbacca teaches me a Life Lesson.

Chewbacca teaches me a Life Lesson.

1. Take photos. I am struggling to feel cute these days. I could list my various physical imperfections, but that only reinforces them so I’ll suffice it to say that I just feel uncute lately and I struggle to remind myself that A) I totally am cute no matter what and B) it doesn’t really matter anyway because I’m valuable no matter what I look like on the outside. So I tried to avoid photos at first, taking pictures of the cosplayers themselves or of my son. But one Chewbacca was all, “hang on, hang on” and walked right up to me to do a selfie together. And he (she?) was right. I deserve to be in pictures, too. And I owe it to my children. I want them to have photos of me enjoying life when they are older. I want to show them how to enjoy life, and take pictures, even if they aren’t always feeling cute. It’s important. And so what if I don’t look like a model in every picture? My friends think I’m lovely as is. And the photo is recording a moment more than just the way I look. It’s recording a memory, a feeling. So don’t shy away from photos. Jump in!

Look at this memory being made: ME AND DINOSAURS. Best day ever, basically.

Look at this memory being made: ME AND DINOSAURS. Best day ever, basically.

2. Be a cooperative force in the world. I decided to spend three hours of my life waiting to get in to the Netflix Experience (yes, I am one of those people) and they wound up closing the doors about fifteen people in front of me. It was frustrating but I won’t go into that here. The people in line behind me, a mother and her daughter, had had the same thing happen to them two nights before. The girl was almost 11 and loved Stranger Things. I told them that if they wanted to close the doors right after me, I’d make sure the kid got in instead. It made them feel good. After we were turned away, Netflix started handing things out to the crowd and while many people pushed and knocked their way forward, one lady made sure the kid behind me in line got a poster. It made me so happy to see people working to make this one kid’s day a little less disappointing.

The day before, my kids and I did a scavenger hunt for Amazon’s new Tick series where we had to find clues to catch the bad guys. They reminded us that it was a competition and we should try to keep our answers hidden from the others in the room with us. And I just couldn’t help thinking that we’d probably catch more bad guys faster if we all cooperated instead of raced.

Those instances reminded me of a post I shared on Facebook a few days ago. About how we’re all good moms no matter the choices we make for our families. It feels so much better to lift each other up, to help each other out, than it does to push people out of our way while we race to the finish line (or the Funko giveaway, depending). And we get so much farther if we cooperate. Women are pitted against each other enough. Let’s decide together to put down our defenses, to put away our defensiveness, and just wholly be there for each other without tearing each other down. Imagine what we could do together in the world if we decided to be teammates instead of see each other as contestants we have to beat. We’d be unstoppable.

Bunch o' Garnets

Bunch o’ Garnets

In the evening, my son and I went to the filming of the Steven Universe video for Stronger Than You. If you haven’t watched Steven Universe, I cannot recommend it enough. It’s a show about love, and growth, and finding your true self. The song says, “I am made of love and it’s stronger than you” and I think that’s an excellent way to see the world. Love requires more than one person and together we are stronger than just one. Love is stronger than you, but it’s not competing with you. It’s just a fact: together, with love, we are stronger.

We are made of love and it's stronger than you.

We are made of love and it’s stronger than you.

Love to you all.

I am not even kidding about the Misha Collins part.

I am not even kidding about the Misha Collins part.

Categories: My Own Ramblings, News

5 Lessons I’ve Learned from SOAM

This post originally appeared on Surrender Dorothy.


When my daughter was born fifteen years ago, I was utterly unprepared for the extent of physical changes that would come along with the pregnancy. Afterwards, I felt torn between the awe and pride I should have been feeling for what my body did, and the shame I actually felt for looking nothing like the pictures I saw in magazines. I assumed I was the only one dealing with this so I kept it to myself for a long time. And then one day, almost four years later, I happened to catch a glimpse of another mom’s belly and in that instant I knew this was actually a totally normal thing. It was such a relief to be able to let go of that self-hate I had spent so much time focused on and I wanted to make that knowledge available for women worldwide. I wanted everyone – mothers, women who aren’t mothers, and men – to know mama bodies are normal. So I started The Shape of a Mother. It’s been over a decade now and I’ve published the stories of about 2,500 moms in that time. Here are the top five things I’ve learned working with women and body image.

1. We’re harder on ourselves than on anyone else. Probably the most common comment people leave on the submissions that are posted is something like Wow! You’re my body twin! But you look way better than I do! Logically, if two people look that much alike, we can assume they probably both look equally lovely. And, certainly, if you saw two friends of yours who looked alike, you would think that neither was more beautiful than the other, right? But when it comes to ourselves, we are far more critical.

I have learned to handle this in my own head by changing my internal conversation. I pretend that I am talking to a friend, or that a wise friend is talking to me. Suddenly the words I think to myself are much kinder and over time it has made a huge difference in how I feel about myself.

2. What seems like a curse to some is a longed-for blessing to others. There are women who would do anything to be able to have their body blemished by pregnancy. Some women are struggling with infertility, others with miscarriage. There are mamas who have had stillborn babies and who wished there was some stretch mark or loose skin or something to mark the fact that they became a mother.

This isn’t a competition for who has it worse and I don’t intend to make it seem that way, but it can be helpful to remember to keep your own worries in perspective. It can remind you to find beauty and wonder in what you do have. Your own worries are valid whether or not they are “lesser” than another’s.

It is an important life skill to be able to hold in your heart both the validity of your own feelings as well as your place on the spectrum of privilege. In other words: it is legitimate to lament your stretch marks, but keep in mind how blessed you are to have them.

3. There is no one right answer. There is no one right body shape and size. There seems to always be competition between moms (or women in general, really). One mom’s body doesn’t change too much after pregnancy. A second mom’s does, but she works very hard at eating a certain way and exercising a certain amount and she finds that her body eventually looks the way it did before. A third mom might be dealing with health issues that prevent her from exercising the way the second mom does, or she might be dealing with financial issues that prevent her from eating the way the second mom does and the result is that her body remains changed. Yet another mom might find that she simply prefers not to exercise or to be careful about her diet and that the way her body changed doesn’t bother her. And, of course, there are the moms who do all the things and their bodies still remain changed, at least in some way.

All too often, we forget that the world is diverse and we see it only through our circumstances. It is helpful to eliminate judgment entirely and simply listen and offer support. Instead of saying, “You just need to work harder at making time!” Try to say, “You don’t have time to exercise? I know how busy you are! And you look beautiful as is!” No need to argue about details, just lift each other up. Trust that what other people say about their experiences is true for them, even if it isn’t for you.

4. Language is important. You might notice I try to phrase things carefully. I say “bodies that don’t change after pregnancy” instead of “bounced back” or “got her body back”. And I say “and you look beautiful” instead of “but you look beautiful.” Because words carry more meaning than just their dictionary definitions. We hear what people say to us through the tone of their voices and their expressions, but also through our own histories. By choosing words carefully you can avoid alienating someone or creating animosity in your relationship. By choosing words carefully, you can show compassion and let someone know they can trust you; in turn, maybe you can trust them back.

5. When we are brave enough to share a secret fear, we open the door to empowerment. That’s the crux of SOAM. I kept my fears secret for so long because I was afraid of being judged, but when I finally got brave enough to mention it to my friends, they joined the conversation in relief. I opened SOAM officially on July 5, 2006, and I asked my friends to share the link. I was worried it would fall flat on its face, but the world was full of isolated women, thirsty to know they weren’t alone. The website exploded and just over a month later I was getting calls from media giants like the London Guardian. In that month, I saw the face of the world changed – just a little, but changed nevertheless. Because the women who submitted their pictures to me were brave enough to do so. Coming together to talk about the scary things is one of the most powerful things we can do as humans.

Working with SOAM has changed my life completely. It’s given me an unexpected career I never could have dreamed up on my own, and it’s taught me compassion, perspective, understanding, kindness, and how to be brave. I hope, in turn, I can share these gifts with the world.

Categories: My Own Ramblings, News

SOAM Newsletter is back!

You can read the latest version here! It’s a little update about where I’ve been, a teaser for some upcoming giveaways (SOAM is about to have a birthday!), and a reminder that we are still raising money for some legal fees to protect the work we do here. Check out the GoFundMe here and the explanation here.

Want to sign up for the SOAM newsletter to keep informed of everything going on here? Click this link, or the link in the header above.

Categories: News