This blog has been up and running for over two weeks now and I could never have guessed how much it would have changed me. I’ve realized since March or so that I wasn’t alone, but my outlook on the female body – on my own body – has completely and utterly changed since July 5th. I’ve seen so many stretchmarks over the past weeks that it is the norm to me now. I see them as beautiful. And I don’t mean I see the beauty in them – cause I was always able to see that to a degree – but I see the marks themselves, specifically, as beautiful.
Growing up I always hated my body. Likely I would not have admitted it because I knew was “wrong” to think I was fat, but I could not stop comparing myelf to all the thin girls with taut tummies and thin thighs. I never was overweight, but I also wasn’t terrifically toned. Oh, but the numbers… I somehow had this idea in my head that 125 pounds was The Right Weight. And so when I hit that at 12 years old, 5’2″ tall, and then continued growing, I felt sick to my stomach by the time the scale read 160 pounds when my 5’9″ body graduated high school. Looking back, I realize that’s a totally acceptable weight for my frame (and I’d kill to be there now! But I won’t give up my white chocolate M&Ms and herein lies the true problem, no?) but at the time, I was completely crushed. I worked sound for my high school’s show choir and I’d sit there and watch the girls with their beautifully thin arms do “jazz hands” yet, when I tried to replicate it in the bathroom mirror (HA yes, now you know I dance in the bathroom for myself – you know you do it, too!!!), I saw giant flabby marshmellows bigger than my head. Funny thing: looking at old pictures recently I discovered that my own arms were thin and beautiful back then! Why couldn’t I see it? Even though I struggled against hating my body, even though I told myself over and over again, “I’m not fat!” I felt I was. It makes me grieve for what I had back then, and it breaks my hear to know the pain that girl once felt.
I have no pictures of my unscarred tummy and I wish I had because that memory has been washed from my mind now. All I can see is this loose, striped flab. I just wish I could have a realistic glimpse of what I really looked like back then.
But now that I’ve got this site, honestly for the first time ever I am feeling less and less shame about my body! I no longer feel like I have to hide my ugly tummy from my family! I’m far from wearing a bikini, but that is more due to my own feelings of nakedness, rather than from shame.
I was talking to a friend about this site and mentioned letting my 4 year old daughter see it. My friend joked that I shouldn’t scare her about pregnancy yet, but I really believe that if these images are there in her brain now – even just subconsiously as she walks through the room when I have the site up – if these images are there, maybe, just maybe, she will have a better idea of what “normal” is. Maybe it won’t be so painful to her to look in a mirror. Perhaps she will have a better idea of what she really looks like. I want both of my children to know what women, and people in general, truly look like. I want them to know normal.
Anyway, it’s late and I’ve rambled on for long enough. Thank you to each and every woman who has participated or left a comment or passed on the link or even just been touched by it. I feel like we are coming together to create this amazing thing, let’s push it forward so everyone can benefit!
My own pictures (you can see my current belly up at the top of this site or on the “Who I Am” page)…
Fresh ZebraBelly stripes at the end of my first pregnancy.
4 Weeks pregnant with #2. I took this photo totally for myself, never expected to share it with even my own husband, let alone the internet. I had completely forgotten about this until recently and since it’s not longer shameful to me, here it is. Even still, the shorts are carefully obscuring the fat flap.
12 weeks pregnant. I stopped taking bare-bellied photos after this for the most part. I couldn’t stand to look at them.
28 weeks. Laying on my back always seemed to help the fat fall into the right places, so I took a shot of my belly button popped halfway out. It never did fully pop, and I think my son was right underneath it in this picture.
We had a little fun with henna at my blessing about a month before my son was born. I never did get new stretchmarks with the second pregnancy.
13 thoughts on “Myself”
You are such a beautiful woman, mother and friend to share this with all of us and create such a wonderful site and movement! Finally something true and humbling to bring us all back down to earth. What is it we should really be focused on? Not Hollywood or our obsession to look like frail supermodels but just being healthy, mentally and (if we have time to squeese this one in)physically and love ourselves. This alone will help us to pass on healthy habbits and great self esteems to our own little girls.Thank you a million times :)
thanks for sharing that. I look back in the same way–how i saw myself as overweight but boy, I would love to have that body back!My 2.5 y/o sat here last night looking at the pics with me, and she just kept saying “pretty mommy” on every pic! I wish that’s how the world saw it….i’m thankful that you had the idea for this.
Just wanted to join the chorus of “thank you”s for starting this site. I look forward to seeing it grow like a big, beautiful pregnant belly!I have never been pregnant myself, but hope to be soon. However, one thing that’s been holding me back subconsciously (and I’ve never admitted this to anyone) is my lifelong struggle with my body image. I am very scared of the changes, and fear that I will experience bad treatment from doctors for being a chubby pregnant lady instead of a slim one with a pert, athletic basketball tummy like all those dang pregnancy magazines. Even in natural-geared books/magazines, it still seems like the images are so perfect-looking. No sags, stretchmarks, etc.So what you’re doing is a huge service to all women — please keep it up. I look forward to sharing my own photos someday soon.
Your story about thinking you were “fat” all through middle and high school (but never saying it because you knew it was “wrong” to think that) struck such a note with me. My experience is so similar (we’re even the same height!), and I wish I had more pictures of myself in general when I was younger. I wish I’d worn a bikini then, when I should have been damn proud of it! I wish I’d beleived my mom when she told me that the little pouch I had was normal for all (non airbrushed) women, and that I shouldn’t be ashamed of it. Now I believe my husband when he tells me that if he wants a flat, chiseled tummy, he’ll consider dating a man; he loves women for their soft curves and ‘pouches.’
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! So glad you started this site and glad to hear that it has helped you to appreciate your body even further. It must be very rewarding to know that you were able to inspire all of us to participate at this amazing site!I linked you at my site.
I’ve been reading since the first week, and I think what you are doing is such a gift to all women, regardless of their stretch mark status. Thank you for this brilliant idea, your bravery and honesty in allowing us to all feel a little better about ourselves and hopefully, raise a generation of girls who have better body images than we did. THANK YOU!!Carrie
I love what you say about your daughter seeing these images. I think it’s important for children to grow up with the knowledge that things do happen to a woman’s body during and after pregnancy, and it’s normal and beautiful. My daughter is seven and I want her to know.
Thank-you so much for this site. I have recommended it to all the mothers I know, and I find it very reassuring. Its such a nice change to see the wonderful variety of real womens bodies instead of the endless airbrushed images we are usually fed. Keep it up ladies, we are all beautiful! – New Zealand Mum
Thank you, from a survivng-anorexic-in recovery-mother-of-4.I hate myself a little less each day I visit your site.I pray to have the courage to post my pics soon.
I’m in heaven. A ZebraBelly? Boy, does that describe it. And then after, zebra + wrinkles = ??? coral belly?
Thank You for sharing your beautiful pictures! I identified with so much of what you said.
White chocolate M&Ms? You’re killing me! LOL.Your blog is just awesome, and you are #1 with a bullet! :)
Thanks for setting up this site! I just found it this morning and I’m going to be late for work for all the time I’m spending browsing and I love it. I’m 22 weeks, and find it reassuring to see what’s in store for my body. I was kind of worried that I’m showing so slowly, but lots of these pics show what’s normal — not the glossy-mag celebrity nonsense shouting at us from every news stand. You’re a brave, strong woman and you’re making a welcome statement for the rest of us. Thank you!