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Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

July 22, 2011

Heh. But seriously? Why can’t we? Every so often there will be a post that inspires controversy in this website. I’ve just closed comments on the most recent one without even reading the ones that appeared in the last 24 hours. Because I don’t have the energy at this moment in my life. I’m grieving, trying to clean up an entire life and make plans for the goodbye while still trying to keep my usual life somewhat in control. So, I’m sorry for deleting the last comments, and I hope you understand why. I’m just tired.

But what I want to ask you is this: keep your ears and mind open. Everyone has a story. It might not match yours, but it is just as valid. Language is the only way we have to communicate with each other online, and being very careful with the words you choose can change everything in how others respond to you. Likewise, assuming the best of the person using the words can change everything in how you feel about what you are reading. I’m not asking you amazing women to keep quiet and just take whatever shit comes your way, rather I’m asking you just speak up carefully and wisely, as though you were speaking to a dear friend.

In controversies the true intent of SOAM is often bandied about by various commenters, each giving their own take on it. What I love about that is that everyone has a different opinion, and everyone is right. SOAM is about many things. Just as most things in life, people especially, it cannot be reduced to just one facet of its existence. All those different ideas are what makes up SOAM together.

Similarly, there is no one shape for a woman’s body to take. Women are curvy and not. Women are tall and not. Women have large breasts and not. Women have stretchmarks and not. Women have extra skin and not. (Those lines inspired by this post.) What I love about this is that every one is beautiful. My goal is to help women truly understand that and be able to say, “I am beautiful!” No qualifiers. Full belief of that statement.

SOAM is often criticized for not showing mothers whose bodies are unchanged. It is equally criticized for showing only mothers whose bodies are unchanged. Personally, I think it shows both. But there is a disconnect between the two, and it seems to live within the myth that healthy eating and exercise = thinness. The truth is that there is SO MUCH that goes into what a body looks like that you just can’t make such a statement. Sometimes women do everything “right” and it’s not enough. Other times women don’t move enough or eat too much sugar, and still look like a body in a magazine. We each have our own story. Please remember this. When you write your words, please remember that everyone lives their own story and that everyone is beautiful.

Like I said, I’m in a bad place in my own life right now so I hope this all came out sounding clear and kind. If it didn’t, give me the benefit of the doubt and ask me to clarify. On a related note, please excuse my inactivity here. I’m just trying to keep swimming.

And like I said above, you are all amazing. Thank you for everything you do here at SOAM.

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33 Responses to “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

  1. Corinne Says:
    July 22nd, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Bonnie, thank you so much for this post. I had avoided commenting on the other post for these very reasons. I am so sorry for your loss, it must be a terribly hard point in your life. With lots of love, Corinne x

  2. Michelle Says:
    July 22nd, 2011 at 11:58 am

    i find it silly because of the last post, the girl is hot, face it, she looks damn good for having 2 kids, women get jealous way too easy and are way to sensitive, but if its a fat chick putting herself down its all good…gimme a break.

  3. Mina Says:
    July 22nd, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Bonnie you rock. Thank you for this post and for the reminder. Sometimes the Golden Rule is a good thing for us all to remember, eh? I’m so sorry for your loss…no need to apologize for a lack of activity here. Sometimes we mamas have to put our own needs first. Peace to you.

  4. Lauren Says:
    July 22nd, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Thank you Bonnie. I read all the comments on the other post and was amazed at some of the backlash – what she wrote didn’t offend me, as she simply used the wording others have always used on this site before. She was responding to stereotypes using that language, the way it seemed to me. But some women do seem to get very irritated when women who are slender post pictures. Who wants to see unchanged bodies? seems to be the attitude. As someone wrote in the comments, it can sometimes take more courage to post if you look like you “bounced back” because sometimes it seems like everyone wants to see women who look like them: if you still haven’t lost 10 lbs, you want to see someone in the same boat, not someone who weighs 125. But…can’t we all just get along? SOAM exists to show what REAL women look like after pregnancy – you are still a real and normal woman if you lose your pregnancy weight and get some flat abs! You are real if you don’t! You are real if you have stretch marks and just as real if you don’t! You are being real if you hate your body and post to ask for encouragement or as part of beginning to love yourself, and you are being real if you post because you ARE happy with your body and want to encourage others! Hope love and affirmation continues to go out to everyone who supports SOAM.

  5. Melissa Says:
    July 22nd, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Thank you Bonnie for such an awesome website! I think that their are so many women accessing this wonderful site, in various different mind sets that it is our duty to ourselves and one another to be mindful of how we word things. I just read the last post and I granted I am not offended, I do see how some women would be as the way it was written (most likely not intended) came off kind of snarky. But, to each their own. :)

    Pregnancy changed my body, and though I’m not 100% happy with it, I wouldn’t change it for the world. And SOAM helped me get through the grieving process of what my body was prior, and to accept what I have now. :)

    Bonnie you are awesome, and I am sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself. Thoughts are with you.

  6. june Says:
    July 22nd, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    so sorry for your loss! i bet its been beyond hard to go through. thank you for even trying to keep up with this site, so many of us check it daily and part of our “feel better” routine. in reference to the mentioned “controversial” post: it really did hurt my feelings and set me back self esteem wise but that’s my problem i guess. i’m still a work in progress for sure. thanks and good luck again! :)

  7. DLL Says:
    July 22nd, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    perfectly put, hope what ever your going through gets better.

  8. Jessa Says:
    July 22nd, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this. Often after reading/hearing how others did everything ‘right’ and turned out exactly the same/better I see myself how I feel they see me, as fat and lazy. I did try to do everything ‘right.’ But in the end, it is not how they see me that matters. It is how I choose to see myself, how my husband sees me and how my children see me. The more self-love I have, the better their chances. So thank you again for this post. And I am so very sorry for your loss. My prayers are with you and your family.

  9. layla Says:
    July 23rd, 2011 at 11:14 am

    well sometimes it is depressing to always see bodies that are “ruined” , whats wrong with seeing a mom who has a rockin body every now and then, it shouldnt be all stretch marks and belly pooches because thats not all “shapes” of mothers.

  10. Meredith Says:
    July 23rd, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Bonnie,
    First off, I’d like to extend my condolences to you during this particularly hard time. Everything takes a backseat to grief – especially the loss of a mother. I must admit, however, that this last post was particularly hard to stomach. I was dismayed that grown women could be so vicious and partake in what I would consider nothing less than cyber-bullying. My heart absolutely broke for this woman who dared to expose such an intimate part of herself only to be told that “there was nothing beautiful” about her post and to have other physical attributes mocked. I can only imagine that it was difficult for her to gather the courage to actually send this post, hence the “anonymous.” Her words were bended and taken out of context. Some of the posters were kind, but it seemed that others jumped at the chance to malign her image and her character- an internet stanger. What’s worse, those of us who attempted to defend her were silenced…deleted.
    I sincerely wish you peace and clarity during this difficult time and hope that others will take your message of kindness and empathy to heart.

  11. Rin Says:
    July 23rd, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Hi,webmaster
    I guessed you are the webmaster of this wonderful website!
    I think the last post that you meant was my post, so I just have to explain and apologize for giving you trouble. Just whoever posted the last story was really cruel by words to others,I did not take it personally but think that this site is for supporting every mothers. But the last post I founded it was really unacceptable. I read 3 times then I decided I should said something to the person. Then my comment never been posted and I could not get to your site for 2 days. Anyway I respected your judgement and just want to tell you that I ‘ve been on this site like everyday since my baby was born. This site helped me got throgh

  12. Rin Says:
    July 23rd, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Sorry for lost words
    Anyway this site helped me a lot and now I can say I feel real good about myself. And you opened my eyes. Thanks. And I think I am not going to join and read the site anymore cause I can’t help to comment again if I see anybody post story like the last post again.

  13. Colleen Says:
    July 23rd, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    It comes across clearly, don’t worry. Even grief-addled you still rock.

    I thought about commenting on the last one, but decided not to. If I looked that awesome I would want to shout it from the top of the world too! I get where she was coming from, and I get why people might have been upset, but I think it was just a bit of a communications gap.

    P.S. Your mom raised one hell of a woman. I hope she knew that :)

  14. chris Says:
    July 25th, 2011 at 6:29 am

    Bonnie, my condolences for you loss. Your post definitely sums up SOAM very sic sync. Perhaps it would be best for us all to take some time to recharge our energies, so that we can approach life with compassion and tolerance not only for each other, but also ourselves. Blessings to you and all of the mothers of SOAM.

  15. Jessa Says:
    July 25th, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Layla, I think it was encouraging to see her pictures. But some of the words she used were hurtful, ei saying stretchmarks and loose skin was from being lazy and eating cheeseburgers and shakes. Her post is still beautiful, she was brave to share it and she looks amazing, but she didn’t need to put others down to lift herself up with her word choice.

  16. French fries Says:
    July 26th, 2011 at 7:51 am

    I don’t understand why you make such a big deal out of the lady’s post using words such as ruined, etc. The very mothers are the ones to refer to themselves using that vocabulary in a pitiful way and no ones gets mad at them bc of that.
    But God forbids this slender lady uses this words that are used on a regular basis anyway.
    Seriously..I can clearly see double standard.
    It is like some people can’t stand that other mothers are thin again, which is so sad if you think about it.

    Have a nice day everyone

  17. Bonnie (SOAM) Says:
    July 26th, 2011 at 10:32 am

    The difference is who you are referring to. If a woman refers to herself using those words in her own post it is her way of expressing her feelings about what she is struggling with within her own life (ideally I would like all women to use more polite words about themselves, but not everyone is there yet and honesty is more important during the process). But if a woman refers to others using those same words it becomes offensive and hurtful. There is no double standard.

    Peace.

  18. samantha Says:
    July 26th, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    I’m on this site all the time, i just havent had the courage to post a naked pic of myself lol… but anyway i love all the wonderful ladies on this site and i dont think they should be bullyed because they have confidence. and far as everyones comments of the word ruined, they call theirselves ruined but if someone else says it they get all defensive. just look at the other posts all you see is women calling theirself ugly and ruined. when you call your self ugly fat etc it just gives room for men and other women to put you down. be confident thats more beautiful than that flat tummy!

  19. Bonnie (SOAM) Says:
    July 27th, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Samantha, I could not disagree more with a part of your comment. Calling yourself names doesn’t give anyone else the right to do so. NO ONE EVER has the right to call anyone else anything negative.

    We should all stop putting ourselves down, but we should do that for US. If we stop calling ourselves names just so no one else takes that opportunity to join us, that’s still not doing it for US (although it certainly could put us on the path to better thinking), but doing it in anticipation to what others may do. We really need to bring the focus back to our inner self-love, rather than external things.

    I do, however, completely agree that confidence is more beautiful than any particular body type.

  20. samantha Says:
    July 27th, 2011 at 11:28 am

    i think you misunderstood me.i didnt mean that people have the “right” to say hurtful things to others. yes i do think we should stop for us.

  21. Heather Says:
    July 27th, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Hi,

    I am the poster that obviously upset a lot of people. I didn’t realize this until I just now checked the website.

    I wrote that post very quickly and should have proof-read it out loud to see how it sounded. For those whom I have hurt, I am sorry – BUT – please let me defend myself and explain my wording. (However, some of you did correctly interpret my post, thank goodness!! ) :-)

    I used the word “ruined” because that is the word I have seen women use to explain themselves on SOAM time and time again….that is why I had it in QUOTATION MARKS. It was a QUOTE. It didn’t reflect how I felt about them, but how they felt about themselves. I don’t like that choice of wording either, but I pulled it directly from posts I had just read!!! “Unscathed” was another one I saw a women use describing her body before pregnancy, or what she hoped for. To be honest, I visited this website before my pregnancy and it shook me up a little! All of the negative self-reflections were sad and some sounded so hopeless and depressing!

    I simply thought, maybe I could share a different view of pregnancy, since women today are bombarded with celebrities who “snap” back within weeks of birth – and some think it is just because they can afford chefs and plastic surgeons and personal trainers. I wanted to let everyone know that real women like you and me sometimes have that same experience. I was not bragging or trying to hurt feelings. My story is just different. I thought I’d share…I thought this site was about sharing our personal story!?

    I am by NO means perfect (which I stated in my post). I DO have a few minor stretchmarks that I got in puberty & with pregnancy….but I don’t feel “ruined” either. I feel proud of what my body has done. I guess I should have included in the post that after I held my first baby, I wouldn’t have cared if my whole body was covered in marks…all that mattered was that little baby. And the fact that my body nurtured and grew two little miracles thrills me to no end. And I am not going to lie – the fact that I can still wear a bikini kinda thrills me, too!! If you really knew me, you’d know that I am not being conceited or mean. I am just being ME.

    Besides, when we’re all 85 years old sitting a wheel chair, looking back on our lives and reflecting on what matters…really….will we care what our abs look like or if we have stretchmarks??? I DON’T THINK SO! I know I sure won’t. Beauty and youth are fleeting…family and love are forever.

  22. Rosie Says:
    July 27th, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I personally did not think that woman looks any more amazing than many other women who have posted on here. I personally have twins and there is a post in the twins section by a woman who has six babies including a set of full term twins and looks awesome only months after twins. When I read that woman’s post I was not offended at all, just happy for her. It was the language and the judgement of the unscathed post that was offensive. The assumption that women who are not thin or that have stretchmarks etc are that way because they don’t look after themselves is just not true or supportive or encouraging. I know the love and care (clean nourishing food, plenty of exercise and rest) I give my body and gave it during pregnancy but the signs still show. I was offended by the notion that my body is ruined because I don’t see it that way and sometimes its hard to hold that perspective when the world around you is telling you otherwise in so many ways. I come to this website for a fresh and nourishing perspective. I wasn’t prepared to face those attitudes here(and from another mother!)and felt shocked. I agree that choice of words are very important and I would also love to read of more women talking about themselves in loving and respectful ways while still being realistic about the challenges on the journey. But we are all different and I understand that Bonnie can’t censure and edit the posts and that if she did there would be only one voice on here. So I respect the diversity but will perhaps be more prepared for ones I don’t like next time. And I will continue to enjoy the aliveness I feel in my imperfect looking body because that is the deepest truth of its beauty for me. When I am grounded in that this “controversy” becomes irrelevant because from that place I really understand that how we look, scathed or unscathed, doesn’t matter at all.

  23. French fries Says:
    July 27th, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    I’m sorry and I mean to say this in a respectful way. But a mother with certain physical changes can call herself not-so-nice or offensive names in a pitiful manner. But if another mother refers to them using the same words in an attempt to exemplify sth and not offend anyone is wrong?

    I still see so much double standard. If I do it, fine. If sb else does it, wrong.

    And let’s be real, the post lady didn’t even say those words with the purpose to hurt anyone’s feelings. Again, she used the very same words thousands of women use to refer to themselves.

    If you really think such terms are so demeaning, don’t use it on yourselves in the first place.

    But I understand your position that if sb wants to call herself words, is their choice. However, it still double-standard.

    Have a nice day

  24. Bonnie (SOAM) Says:
    July 28th, 2011 at 8:27 am

    I can see more what you are saying now about it feeling like a double standard. I still disagree, though. It’s not OK to call someone something negative just because they’ve done it. It’s just not.

    And I do agree that the poster never intended to hurt anyone, I believe she has a good heart. But I do feel we should all take care to be more careful with our words.

  25. Bonnie (SOAM) Says:
    July 28th, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Heather, I’m approving comments backwards and only just saw yours. I’m going to copy it and post it as a comment on your entry just so anyone who happens across it in the future can read it there, too.

  26. malayna Says:
    July 31st, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Would you see it as being a double standard if a woman says negative things about herself and then her husband says these same negative, degrading comments or would that then be considered verbal abuse?
    I think all personal stories should be shared but I think they can be shared without having to negatively talk about other women. I tell my daughter to feel truly accomplished that she should compare herself from how much she has grown and developed from who she was a year ago and not to compare who she is today to other’s her age.

  27. ana Says:
    July 31st, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    what I dont understand is why some comments were deleted and her post is still up. I basically thought of myself as a porker after reading her post (and I only gained 30 lbs during my pregnancy, lost 20 lbs in the first week after labor), but my belly is covered in stretch marks (I must have eaten a lot of cheeseburgers during my pregnancy). I ate extremely healthy and I dont appreciate her post, but this website has dissapointed me already a few times by what they choose to delete.

  28. Kimiko Says:
    August 6th, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    I was actually shocked that you put that post up as it seems to fully contradict the good work you do here at SOAM. Not the pictures, obviously, but the remarks, even if you include the explanatory follow up comment.

  29. Babs Says:
    August 7th, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    I’m late to this controversy, but I agree with a lot of the posters here… the kind of language the previous poster used in her story was offensive and upsetting simply because it was aimed at others. It’s also extremely triggering for those of us who are suffering, or recovering, from eating disorders.

    Regardless of her scarequotes, the implications are there and it’s something that unsettles a lot of people… and as someone recovering with an ED, that includes myself.

    I also strongly, strongly agree with Bonnie: calling yourself a name out of humour, fear, self-loathing or whatever the reason is not the best behavior… but it’s on an entirely different level than being actively called a name by someone else. Many people call themselves names or use derogatory terms to describe themselves out of poor self confidence, body dysmorphia or even more serious mental illness… having someone (or many people) run in to agree with you is troubling. I think we’re all old enough to know it isn’t nice to call people names, even if they called themselves it first.

    I think a lot of the women who post here are in need of a boost: they’re in need of others to tell them they aren’t alone, they aren’t horrible, and they’re still beautiful. Sometimes their posts may come off as “depressing” (as someone commented), but that’s their own lack of self-confidence talking, and I see the comments give them encouraging words, love and care… that kindness makes a big difference. It plants little seeds that slowly take root and grow. Sometimes it takes a few months, or even years of lurking before you begin to realize that it’s okay to look the way you do – no matter how you look. I credit this site for helping me find a lot of peace with how my body has changed, and find beauty… even though I struggle from time to time, the confidence that I am slowly nurturing is there in part because of SOAM’s influence. That’s part of what SOAM is about: supporting and encouraging women… we lift each other, not put each other down. So please, let’s not call each other ‘ruined’ and accuse people of eating too many cheeseburgers. That is a fat-phobic stereotype and I – for one – don’t think that kind of sizeism is welcome in this safe space created specifically to fight it.

  30. sujata Says:
    August 21st, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Hi all,
    Let me share a different perspective. I come from a culture where everyone thinks childbirth is a womans rebirth both physically and emotianally. I embraced both beautifully . In between babies cries diapers home and office I never thought of working out to shed extra 20 kilos. My husband continued to find me sexy but I myself thought he was just being nice. 11 years and deterioration of health later I started making lifestyle changes and working out. I feel much better with flexibility returning and aches and pains going away. My body is slowly feeling lighter and detoxified from all fruits and veggies. My fine lines are going away and people say I look my daughters sister…I am still half way through my goal weight, and never did all this for cosmetic reasons. But now I feel I should have, like so many other moms do, if only I would have not fallen prey to lifestyle deseases. I somehow feel god made healthy look the most beautiful, may be not perfect just more beatiful…..

  31. Babers Says:
    October 10th, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    Absolutely wonderfully written, tired or not! But the reference to “Similarly, there is no one shape for a woman’s body to take. Women are curvy and not. Women are tall and not. Women have large breasts and not. Women have stretchmarks and not. Women have extra skin and not. (I recently read something very similar to this somewhere but I just haven’t got it in me to search for it right now – if you know of the blog post, share it in the comments and I’ll credit it properly.)” can be found here. http://www.hanneblank.com/blog/2011/06/23/real-women/ :D

  32. Bonnie (SOAM) Says:
    October 11th, 2011 at 8:23 am

    That’s it, Babers! Thanks!

  33. Anonymous Mom Says:
    December 14th, 2011 at 7:56 am

    There IS a lot that goes into what your body looks like. For me, the biggest component is the mental part. Everyone says I’ve lost the baby weight, and everyone says I look great, but I don’t see that. I see all the problem areas instead and think everyone’s just being nice.

    I don’t share photos because I want the praise or to hurt others’ feelings. I post them because I think my body is just as obviously misshapen as the woman with the saggy skin or stretch marks. I hope that if other women think that what’s under my clothes is beautiful, I can learn to think that way too.

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