The Shape of a Mother is devoted to widening society’s definition of what is “beautiful.”
The Shape of a Mother’s Top Principles:
We focus on the postpartum body because motherhood, while rewarding and wonderful in so many ways, is also isolating and oppressive in our culture. As Amy Westervelt said, “We expect women to work like they don’t have children, and raise children as if they don’t work.” And as Naomi Wolf writes, “A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.” Therefore, if femalehood is oppressive in our lives and on our bodies, motherhood is triply so.
We exclude no one. Even though we are called “The Shape of a Mother,” we recognize that this work has wider implications in the world. Young girls, boys, men, trans fathers who have given birth, or anyone else that does not fit into society’s false gender binary may have need to see real bodies and to widen their own beauty ideals. You need not have given birth to your children to benefit from the work SOAM does. You need not have children at all. We are all one species here on this rock in space, and the good work we do must be done together and must never be exclusive. We also want to be very clear that we are continually growing and learning how to be better people and allies so if ever we are out of line, we are committed to hearing that and we are committed to changing our language or behavior accordingly.
Being community-driven gives us power. SOAM runs on real, unedited photos submitted by women with all sorts of bodies. This platform gives us the unique opportunity to share our most intimate body parts without sharing our identities, giving us both a safe space in which to be vulnerable and a risk-free way to take a radical stand against the beauty ideal we struggle under.
We want to change the world. As we wrote on the homepage, “What if the next generation grows up knowing how normal our bodies are? How truly awesome would that be?” Therefore, we aim to create change, one person at a time, cultivating self-worth, learning new thinking patterns that are more helpful, and widening each individual’s idea of what “beautiful” means until society itself changes.