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Ugly Obsession With Beauty (Anonymous)

November 15, 2011

I am a 26-year old African-American female who is half in love with her shape and half disgusted by it. Let me explain first why I am posting in a site for women with children and I have never been pregnant.

My body issues began when I turned 15. It was then that I developed perky breasts and curvy bottom half. Guys gave me attention, girls told me I was beautiful, it was cool. At that time, I was a staunch Christian, and for me, that meant that somewhere deep inside I felt my newly sexy body was innately shameful. So here I am with this new womanly body, that I am kind of in love with, but I’m also absolutely scared of the kind of attention that brings. Then I started modeling. I was in love with the attention, and the way photographs and photoshop and ad campaigns made me look better than I really did. I think I began to see myself as the woman in the commercials and airbrushed photos, instead of the girl with cellulite and (according to model’s standards) slightly saggy breasts.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with pregnancy. I am TERRIFIED and in awe of what birthing a child can do to a woman’s body. My mother can be very negative at times, and I can always remember her saying how pretty she was before she had kids. She warns that I will definitely gain weight and get stretch marks. She recently had a tummy tuck and breast lift. I have no idea why I have this obsession, but anyone who knows me will know this. This is why I know of this site. I’ve been categorically researching pregnancy since I was about 17. I’m now 26. My loving and supportive boyfriend can tell from the sound of my voice if I’ve been googling “fit pregnancy” or “how to avoid stretchmarks during pregnancy” or Facebooking friends who have had children and are sporting bikinis like three months later.

Why this irrational fear? I could get them, as it’s mainly a genetic trait (or so my scientific research says) but if I exercise and eat properly during my future pregnancy there is a chance I wouldn’t get them at all. I know in my mind that pregnancy doesn’t always mean your body will never be the same — but I have such high standards for myself that I don’t know what I will do if come out on the other side changed in a way that my mind sees as “ugly.”

My younger half-sister had a son a few years ago and her stomach was absolutely changed. She gained 70 pounds during her pregnancy (admittedly due to overeating and an unhealthy diet) and got bright red, violent (in my mind) stretch marks over her entire stomach. I will never forget the first time I saw them. I didn’t want to make a reaction and hurt my sister’s feelings, but the bright red marks gave me a sinking feeling to my stomach. “I would literally go insane if my stomach looked liked that”, I thought. Is this my fate? This is an odd coincidence because along with my fear/obsession with pregnancy comes dreadful fear of getting stretch marks.

A lot of this comes from my body type, which I know I will have forever, even if I tone up or slim down a little. I am a curvy, curvy chick. Period. Everybody tells me how lucky I am to have a big butt and hips as a Black woman, and that I should be proud to have the ideal Black woman’s frame — but I don’t feel that way. I don’t always like walking down the street and hearing men say, “Now that’s a big ass,” or being at the pool where a group of tourists gather around and laugh and point as if I cannot see them, or feeling like a sideshow attraction every time I wear tight pants — and almost ALL pants are tight pants on me. I like the attention sometimes, as you will see in one attached photograph (with the black dress.) It can be a beautiful thing to be curvy, but I have cellulite and unstoppable jiggling when I walk. I do work out and eat healthier than I have in probably my entire life ( currently weigh 125, my heaviest was 135), but I secretly envy white, slim supermodels. I admire the long, lean legs of Heidi Klum or the cute, discreet butt of a Victoria Secret model, or my roommate, or anyone else but me.

Sometimes when I’m in my room alone I put on clothes and stuff towels inside my shirt to look pregnant. It makes me feel good. I try different amounts of clothing to emulate the different months. I tell myself, “You better look like this when you are pregnant.” Does being curvy mean I will definitely gain a lot of weight during a pregnancy? If I look at the women in my family it does. Where does one draw the line between reality, fantasy, genetic determination, free will and vanity?

I want a child. I work with children everyday. I’m sorta stable. All that good stuff. But I’m scared of what I will do to myself emotionally if I don’t stay under X amount of weight or X inches or bounce back in X weeks.

These are completely candid thoughts. I have never shared much of this information with anyone, but I read this site every week and for some reason this seemed like the perfect place for my distorted, irrational, dark thoughts. If I offended anyone, I apologize. Just my honest thoughts.

*The picture in the light blue bikini is from 2004.
*The picture in the white bikini is from 2005.
*The picture in the black dress is from 2010.
*The pictures on the beach in the blue bikini are from 2011.

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24 Responses to “Ugly Obsession With Beauty (Anonymous)”

  1. Maria Says:
    November 15th, 2011 at 7:26 am

    You have a beautiful body! And I am sorry to tell you that even if you don’t gain weight your body will change after pregnancy, ALL in you will change with a child. Sometimes it’s harder than other, you can take it naturally or with horror. That is only up to you.
    I have too pieces of advice:
    1- eat healthy from now on even if you’re not planning on getting pregnant soon, that helps a lot to avoid stretch marks and so
    2- if you really really want to have a kid, do not think about you anymore, think about the love a child would bring to your life, and the joy of watching him grow. that is priceless.

    Be happy girl, you are beautiful and you’ll keep it that way!!

  2. shannon Says:
    November 15th, 2011 at 7:52 am

    I think that you have such a beautiful shape! I am 25 years old and I have had 2 children. Before my babies I was 110 (at 5’2″)…I had a flat tummy, thin legs, and a perfect big bum (for a white chick!!)…but I still hated my body. I got pregnant with my 1st at 19, and had him at 20. He was born emergency cesarean. He was born with a rare syndrome that caused him to pass away when he was 19 months old.
    Now to what you want to know…did I get stretchmarks? Heck yes I did (I am pale as ever!). Was I happy about them at first? No. But after my son passed, I realized that they are the only physical proof that I had him. If my house burns down today, I will lose all of my videos of him, all of my pictures, all of his clothes..but I will always have these (and for that, I love them). They fade sooo much. I can promise you that!

    I got down to about 120 and had my 2nd child right before I turned 23. With him I got up to 180. (wow!)…I had to have another cesarean. Right now I am 2.5 years pp and I weigh about 122-124. I will always have my stretchmarks, but like I said, they fade…so they are no big deal. What bothers me is the fat I have to lose. I have to lose another 10-15 lbs…but I know I can!

    If you want to have babies..do it! Do not let body worries stop you. Even if you gain a lot of weight, even if you get stretchmarks, you can still look hot. Go on bodybuilding.com…look at some of the women…they look fantastic, stretchmarks and all :)

  3. Anna Says:
    November 15th, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Pregnancy changes your body no matter what you do. Sometimes not so noticable and sometimes it is. Eating healthy like you’re suppose to and get staying active both before and after helps alot!! Every woman who posts on this site may have body image issues, but we love our children to death and would do it all over again if given the chance. That said, someday, if you decide to have a child, you wont regret it.

  4. Courtney Says:
    November 15th, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I can personally understand the want/need to be perfect. I was 120 lbs and 5’7 before I got pregnant. I gained a lot more than I would have liked during my pregnancy, 65 lbs. I won’t lie to you, I was ashamed that I had gained so much. By the end of my pregnancy I had stretch marks on my tummy, hips, love handles, inner & outer thighs, butt and boobs. But you want to know what, the birth of your child changes your idea of perfect completely. A healthy baby is perfect. I am now 6 months postpartum and down to 130 lbs and back into my old jeans. I still have stretch marks all over and I’m fine with that. They remind me everyday that I put aside my selfish ways to provide the nourishment he needed to grow into the 8 lb 9.5 oz healthy baby boy he was! The love I have for my son is far greater than my need to be perfect. Weight comes off with work. Stretch marks fade with time. Love for your child only grows and grows. I truly hope you get to experience motherhood soon :) Goodluck!

  5. glowgirl44 Says:
    November 15th, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Hey, you look gorgeous in all of your pics! It is funny about your obsession with pregnancy…I am not planning on getting pregnant just yet (someday, though) but I am both terrified/in awe too of pregnancy/birth, terrified of stretch marks, and I am also obsessed with any articles on pros/cons of pregnancy, pregnancy and the body, keeping fit during pregnancy, etc. I have a word doc on my computer of stuff I can do to avoid stretch marks, weight gain, etc. while pregnant and I’m glad I’m not the only one.

    One thing I think might have caused this fixation is that I have a mother similar to yours. She had four kids and from an extremely young age she constantly talked about her traumatic birth experiences and how pregnancy ruined her body. She told me this at an age when I was still young and very impressionable, and i think it messed me up for life. But yeah, my mother had HORRIBLE stretchmarks, a hernia, etc. and would constantly talk about how good her body used to be, etc. and I think all her negative talking also played a role in causing my eating disorder as well.

    So I just wanted to say thanks so much for sharing your story! It’s so nice to hear from someone on this site who is like me in that they are not pregnant yet, but considering it an terrified of all of the physical changes that comes with it!

  6. Meghan Says:
    November 15th, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Our American culture and the media is really messed up. I’m sorry you have been made to feel like you should look like a Victoria Secret model. Victoria Secret models don’t even look like VS models. Everything is heavily photoshopped. You are real and GORGEOUS!!! The perfect shape. I wish I looked like you :)

  7. Katherine Says:
    November 15th, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    I can understand your feelings and applaud you for sharing them. I suffered from an eating disorder and very distorted body image for years. It’s hard, and pregnancy can be scary if it seems like it will throw off the tentative balance you may feel you have.

    But what’s important to remember is that whether you ever get pregnant or not, your body is going to change. It’s constantly changing, and that’s one of the beautiful things about it – what it can do and how it supports us through our lives. It’s important to develop a positive self image that is separate from your body and includes things like yout mind, heart, and dreams. One of the best things you can do is work to view your body as beautiful because it is strong and healthy and makes the things you do everyday possible.

    Pregnancy can be a hard time, so I think it’s good to try to work out many of these feelings beforehand. Then you can praise your body and feel good about what is it doing during pregnancy and how it has and continues to nurture a new life afterwards. And don’t be so afraid of the changes that you avoid having children if you really want them – your body will change whether you do or don’t!

  8. Mary Says:
    November 15th, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I just want to say that I share your same fears. I have always found myself feeling like pregnancy is this mysterious and beautiful thing but it terrifies me. I think the reality is that our bodies are our for our whole lives. I think it is natural to be scared of the changes that pregnancy will bring. I am currently trying to have a baby (and have been trying for 3 years). Even though I’m 2000% sure I want to have a baby I still worry about how my body will change in ways that I will not recognize. We grow up hearing about how “so and so” doesn’t even look like she had a baby and then we also see others who are barely recognizable after havfing babies. Maybe the point is that we are afraid to loose ourselves in the process of having children?

  9. michelle Says:
    November 15th, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    I always worried what pregnancy would do to my body until I got pregnant for the first time. I found out I was pregnant, was ecstatic, and 2 weeks later miscarried the baby… fastforward 4 years, and 4 additional pregnancies (2 more miscarriages and 2 live births)… My body is changed, I have extra skin on my stomach, zebra stripe stretch marks, and the dreaded csection apron… I would do it all again, I would multiply my stretch marks and extra skin 10 fold if I had to. Eventually you come to realize that the way you look on the outside, has no baring on who you are on the inside…

  10. Anonymous Says:
    November 15th, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Thanks ladies for the responses! I am re-reading this post and I can’t believe how whiny I was that day…oh lord. Can’t do anything but laugh. I will take your advice into consideration and I appreciate your thoughts.

    <3

  11. Debbie Says:
    November 16th, 2011 at 5:25 am

    Goodness! You have the perfect body! How tall are you? You must be short cuz 125 is realllyyy small to have all that bootay! lol

  12. proudmama Says:
    November 16th, 2011 at 11:28 am

    You look amazing! I hope you don’t let your fears get in the way of experiencing motherhood because it’s the most incredible thing in the world. I’m expecting my second now and although I am slightly terrified of how I’ll look postpartum, I’m much MORE excited about meeting my second child.

    It’s hard to say how your body will react to pregnancy. I believe it has a lot to do with genetics. Obviously it helps if you’re in great shape and your ab muscles are strong and toned but you can’t help it if your skin isn’t quite elastic or if you’re prone to stretch marks. That being said, I have a similar shape and I too was afraid of gaining tons of weight and afraid that my curves would grow out of control…Well I ended only gaining 30-35 pounds and I was all belly. My hips/thighs/butt didn’t get any bigger and I got no stretch marks. My tummy however got hit pretty bad and I have tons of extra skin and wrinkles. That’s how my body reacts to pregnancy, it might be completely different for you.

    I know it’s hard to imagine now, but when you hold your little one in your arms for the first time and realize that you just created life. That you brought to life a little human being, it’s just so much more powerful than any negative thoughts you might have towards your body. It doesn’t mean it won’t ever affect you, but in the grand scheme of things, it is such a small sacrifice to make. Good luck to you!

  13. Julie Says:
    November 16th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    You know!! I disagree with a lot of people in this site! I was a size 0 when I got pregnant, I am currently 4 weeks post partum and I gained 30 lbs during pregnancy! I am bouncing right back with 22 lbs off, my belly button is starting to look like it was before, I have no stretch marks (thanks to the tons of lotion and oil I put on 3 times a daY). I will make a post with pictures. The shape of a mother is not what you look like, it’s the reason you look like what you do! When you look at your child, nothing matters! I had a full term baby with 4.12lbs! It was a shock when they weighed her but thanks to Gods grace in my life, she was healthy and I got to take her home! Not everything is about what you look like, it’s about God’s plan to your like and family!

  14. Skye Says:
    November 16th, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    You are frickin’ booty-licious! Seriously! Wowsers!

    I want to encourage you that pregnancy does not have to ruin your body. I’m a bottom-heavy woman and have a little waist – like you – and I bounced right back. It took longer with each baby (I have 3 kids, ages 3-9), am 31, and I am actually in better shape than I was in H.S. Having kids made me re-evaluate my eating and exercises habits since these were things I was passing on to a new generation.

    After three kids, my butt actually got smaller :) due to becoming more active. Trust me, it’s still there though! I am 5’3″ and weigh 130 and wear an 8.

  15. Charla Says:
    November 21st, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Ok, I wasn’t planning to comment but you have such a beautiful body!!!!!! I totally get what you’re saying about the catcalls getting old. I’m AA as well and as a tall stick figure, I was always told that my body was lacking. I have a flat butt and hardly any curves and was told by plenty of guys that my body type was NOT ideal. It’s funny how much I appreciate myself now, after having kids. My body has been through so much and I have 3 healthy children. I have the ugliest stretch marks in the world. I think they look worse because I have brown skin with these weird looking white lines. My skin loses pigmentation when I get a scar. It’s very annoying. I may not be able to wear a bikini anymore but I have been able to find flattering clothes and bathing suits that make me feel good about myself. Also, once you’re at that point in your life when you’re emotionally ready to have kids, you will come to find that having a perfect body is no longer your primary focus. Motherhood has really helped me to be a stronger more mature person. The insecurities don’t go away completely but your pride and joy becomes the life you created and not the perfect tummy you lost. Anyway, that’s just my opinion.

  16. DLH Says:
    November 21st, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    First thing: you’re gorgeous! Not just your shape, which is amazing, but also how confident you look – something about the way you’re standing in those photos. You look like you’re proud of your body. I like to think that if you always retain that feeling, then no matter how your body changes, you’ll always be incredibly attractive.

    Second thing: You’re not the only never-been-pregnant haunter of this website. I’m 20 and have share a lot of the worries you have about your body. I’m curvy but quite slim, like you (though you have a flatter stomach!) but I’ve ‘softened out’ a bit over the past year or so since meeting my fiance – the dreaded ‘happiness pounds’. I spend a lot of time fretting over what is really a very minor change in my overall body shape (whilst also half-acknowledging that to some extent it makes me *more* womanly).

    I’m also very broody, though due to wanting to complete my studies probably won’t be having a baby for a few years yet (don’t want to tempt the faulty contraception gods by sounding too certain about it!). I think women can look really, really beautiful when pregnant and have the feeling that it will be the one time in my life when I’m completely forgiving towards my body and its shape. But I also worry about how I’ll feel afterwards – if the tiny change of a few pounds around my butt and tummy make me frantic with worry now, what will the sight of a post-partum tummy do to me? (Of course, I think that the ladies who put their post-partum photos on this site are beautiful! – but one’s view of oneself isn’t always a kind or even accurate one).

    Then I also worry about how much time I’m wasting worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet – and also feel that it’s kind of stupid to worry about the tiny changes that have occurred to my body recently when compared to the bigger changes it will encounter later in life.

    I just try to be really upbeat about my body in whatever it looks like at the moment – and I *know* deep down that it doesn’t look bad – just as I hope I’ll realise deep down in a few years time that how it might look after pregnancy doesn’t matter if I really have confidence in myself.

    You’re stunning, and you always will be. Remember that!

  17. Colleen Says:
    November 22nd, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I feel like I could have written big chunks of your post :) I’ve been fascinated by (obsessed with?) pregnancy and birth for as long as I could remember. I couldn’t WAIT to experience it for myself. That’s actually how I originally found SOAM, I was looking for pictures of pregnant bellies online because I think they’re beautiful. To be perfectly honest, this site kind of scared me a little. I was TERRIFIED of stretch marks. And then I got pregnant, and I was thrilled. I ended up with an un-marked belly (I have a SUPER long torso and only had a 6 lb. 5 oz. baby), but I have stretch marks on my thighs and butt. You know what? I found they don’t bother me. I ended up having to have a cesarean and now I’m more obsessed with birth than ever (much to my husband’s chagrin). We’ll have to see how #2 turns out.

    Genetics isn’t everything. My mother gained ~70 pounds with her pregnancies and got stretch marks–which I didn’t even realize were there until I was in college, so that should tell you something about how well they fade–and I gained 34 (not eating carefully at all) and got none. Sure, genetics matter, but every pregnancy and every woman is different.

    Keeping in mind what I just said (everybody being different), I am a curvy white woman. Before pregnancy I had a “perfect” hourglass shape–breasts and hips the same size, waist 9 inches smaller. I was a 32F, size 6. Now I’m a 34G (my breasts get larger everytime I restart birth control pills), size 10. I can’t tell you if I still have those “perfect” measurements because I haven’t checked in a while. I honestly don’t care. But being curvy does NOT mean that you’re doomed to gain tons of weight, I promise. If you’re already accustomed to healthy eating and exercise, pregnancy should treat you fairly well.

    You’re stunning, and obviously confident–and that beats any skinny ol’ white chick any day :)

  18. Nicole Says:
    November 27th, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    I hate to break it to you, but you’re not going to look like you do now forever. One day, God willing, you will be an old woman with wrinkly skin and saggy everything. You may look a little better than other old ladies your age, but you’ll all be old in one way or another.

    The question is, will the old lady you become be surrounded by children and grandbabies? Or will you be the one in the nursing home looking on with regret as other women – the ones with the stretchmarks nobody even thinks about anymore – bounce giggling babies on their knee?

    Beauty isn’t just what your body looks like. It’s also what your body can do. If you want babies, listen to your heart and your love for them will make any changes worth it. Don’t let the vain lies of the world steal a lifetime of love!

  19. Amber Says:
    December 1st, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    I am 24. I had 3 kids. I gained 30 lbs (which is the recommended amount of weight) with each one.. and lost all of the weight within the first 3 months or so. It was pretty much all baby and fluid weight.. i didn’t have much to lose after they were born. I do have some stretch marks.. I was really afraid of getting stretch marks before I had kids.. But having kid’s doesn’t just change your body, it changes your perspective on life. It changes your priorities and your values. Stretch marks will be the least of your concerns. You will be to worried about your baby. I think it’s great you want to take care of yourself. And you should! But just remember that our bodies are only here for a short time. Feeling like the hottest woman on earth wouldn’t even compare to the feeling you have when you hear your child say “I love you mommy.”

  20. marz Says:
    December 6th, 2011 at 12:49 am

    Oh. My. God. You are everything I wish I could be! I’m jealous of that anti-gravity device in your behind! lol You look hot, and I hope you know it. You have a long time to consider having babies and getting pregnant. Time will eventually make everything a little looser, so when you decide to have a baby, you’re kind of agreeing to give up a few years and get that loose-ness to your skin a bit early.
    But you look like you have amazing genes. Youhave a very tight stomach, so it’s possible you won’t show much at all. I didn’t, and you’re much smaller in the waist than I was. Don’t rush anything okay? :) Enjoy your life, however you plan to build it

  21. Anonymous Says:
    December 7th, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Ladies,

    I am just now reading many of these comments. I want to give a sincere thank you for all of your sweet, insightful comments. Good timing, I was just watching a Beyonce video. HELP! :)

    I was actually coming to the site to erase my post as I thought it was too whiny and disrespectful to all the mothers who visit this site, but after reading the comments — and finding out there are others just like me, I think the post should stay.

    I will not let my vanity keep me from being a mother, ever. But, I will watch what I eat, keep dancing and doing what I love, and keep trying to create more sustainable habits for myself.

    You are all so beautiful.

    Thank you, Anonymous

  22. simplyshida Says:
    January 9th, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    i…would..kill..for…that..body

  23. amanda Says:
    April 24th, 2012 at 8:34 am

    I’ll echo everyone else’s comments and say…OMG. You have a gravity-defying bottom that I would kill for! Don’t ever let anyone tell you you aren’t gorgeous inside and out!

  24. Amy Says:
    August 5th, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Well now it’s 2014, 3 years on from your post. Did you have a baby?? If so,Are you comfortable in your post pregnancy skin?!

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