When is Enough, Enough? (Anonymous)

Age: 37
Numbers of pregnancies and births: 3, births 1
Child’s Age: 4

I spent my youth and 20’s overweight and hating my body. I was a size 18. During a bad break up I gained an additional 15 pounds and for the first time it looked like size 18 would be too small. I decided to try to loose enough weight to get back into my clothes. After I started loosing I kept going and went from 220 pounds to 130. I still hated my body.

I got married (and I hated the way I looked in my wedding dress). I got pregnant and felt huge (and then I realized that even in my 9th month I still weighed less than I had while overweight). I had my beautiful baby girl and felt pure joy. She would be raised to love herself. She would grow up knowing that she was beautiful. I was thrilled with everything about her, but I hated my post pregnancy body. I wanted to lose the weight. Most of it came off, but the last 10 pounds. I hated my body, I hated those 10 pounds. As a working mom I found less and less time for me. Those 10 pounds stayed and added 5 more friends. I hated my body. My mommy friends and I would both complain about how we needed to do something because we were “too chubby”. Yesterday morning my daughter woke up with an upset stomach. Her tummy was slightly bloated from gas. She rubbed her tummy and asked me “Mommy is this chubby?”

I thought I had been so careful. I thought I had only talked about my body when she couldn’t hear. I thought, I thought, I thought….All my thoughts about teaching my daughter to love herself and her body no matter what and I realized that I can’t do that unless I stop hating my body.

Second Update (Bryana)

Original entries here and here.

#1) Rayden Wolfgang: Dec 12, 2005
#2) Cairo Sofia: June 23, 2009
Age: 22

I guess this submission isn’t really about me. I have posted twice before because I think this website is nothing short of amazing. It has inspired me to love my body, it’s “flaws” and all. Our bodies have performed miracles; they have carried our babies and brought life into this world. Why would anyone find this terrible, ugly, unattractive? You fill in the blank!
It’s so hard for me to read some of these stories. There are so many women out there telling the world about how horrible they look and feel after having their children, not to mention many only 2-8 weeks postpartum… come on ladies! I know it’s said over and over again, but it takes 9 months, give it 9 months to return. But even if your “ideal” is not achieved in a short 9 months, who cares? If your husband, boyfriend, partner, whoever it is that is supposed to be in this with you, can not look at you and tell you that you are beautiful than how good of a person is he? My body took a complete 180 when I got pregnant with my first baby, Rayden. My husband could still look me in the eyes and tell me I was beautiful, stretch marks and loose skin to boot! I gave birth to his child for goodness sakes, and so did you ladies!
Get your faces out of the magazines and news articles! Who cares if all these celeb moms bounced back within weeks of birthing their children. That is not reality. That is a whole lot of money, discipline, and damage to the body. They are not the ideal. Look at the amount of women on this website that have less than “ideal” bodies!
I’m not saying every morning I wake up and thank the Gods that I have stretch marks from head to toe and loose sagging skin at the ripe age of 22, but I can thank the Gods that all I had to offer to have my 2 beautiful children was a little loose skin and some stretch marks. I do repeat to myself daily “I am beautiful” and I have been doing that for nearly 2 years now, and I do believe it now. I thought it was a bunch of garbage… until I saw the effects. Every person in your life can tell you that you are beautiful but it won’t make a difference until you can honestly say to yourself that you are beautiful and believe it.
I am truly sorry to hear how many of you find yourselves not only ugly, but devastatingly ruined. You’re not ruined, you have been remodelled.
This was written with nothing less than love. No one is perfect nor will perfection ever be achieved. Reach for the clouds before the stars; one step at a time.

Pic #1: 37 weeks pregnant w/ my daugher, Cairo.
Pic #2 & #3: Me today, 8 months and 5 days PP. I think I am beautiful, but not “ideal”, Thank God!

Updated here and here.

Regarding Scars and Stretch Marks (Amanda)

Pregnancies/Births: 2/1 (girl, 18 mos)

I anguish over my loose skin and stretch marks. I have not gotten to a place of comfort or acceptance of my body, much less a place of pride over the story my ravaged body tells. I don’t understand how my husband can love such damaged goods, or how he could ever want to be intimate with me.
Something important occurred to me today though. My husband happens to have a ravaged body as well. At 22 years old and with a congenital heart defect, he has had 2 open heart surgeries and 2 angioplasties. He has a long, wide “zipper” scar on his chest. Another huge scar on his back. 2 more on his side from chest tubes. Both sides of his groin from the angioplasties. Many stretch marks from periods of weight fluctuation from medications.
And would it surprise any of you if I said I find him sexy? That I desire him? That when I see his scars, I see strength and a survival? Of course it wouldn’t. If anything, his scars make me love him a little more. And even if your partners don’t have scars such as these, everyone has something they don’t like about themselves, something that chips away at their self confidence. But we love our partners just the same, whether they are physically different from what is widely considered to be the ideal, yes?
Anyway, my husband sees the same in me that I see in him. He sees beauty in every mark on my body. Every one of them. Stretch marks are not a sign of weakness or failure. They’re a testament to the resilience of our bodies and the pure love it takes to physically grow and harbor another human being for almost a year. A mother’s body is so amazing, it is almost not even fully comprehensible to me. My husband knows that, and it makes me the most beautiful woman in the world to him.
So why do I still beat myself up do much? Why do I find myself so disgusting? Why do we all have so much trouble accepting and loving ourselves when we readily accept and love our partners, family, friends, even total strangers (like on this website)? I guess it just takes time, or life experience. I don’t know. I’m only 23, I don’t exactly have years of wisdom to shape my ideas and opinions. I just hope that we all find peace with our bodies, sooner rather than later. I think the women on this site are incredible and brave for posting. And I hope my ramblings help somebody out there feel better today :)
Photo #1 is at 5 mos pregnant, #2 is my Adalia :)


I posted this over at Facebook the other night, but haven’t had the time to share it here yet. It is fabulous. I have long noticed that it is those interesting bits – what a person might refer to as his or her flaws – which I find the most beauty in. A large nose, a crooked smile, too-small breasts… I grieve for Ashlee Simpson’s old nose – I found it beautiful and now I can’t pick her out of a lineup of Hollywood Look-Alikes.

Nobody should look like a paper doll copy of every other so-called beautiful woman. Like those planned communities which mirror every other planned community in the US, women are also expected to have only one definition of beautiful. I prefer older neighborhoods, ones with character and uniqueness, regardless of what that looks like on an individual level. Straight nose, or crooked nose – they are all beautiful, and their diversity makes them MORE beautiful, not less so. A mother’s smooth belly, or a wrinkly one – they have all carried life and they are beautiful, symbolically and physically. The only ugly thing here is that we are made to feel like we aren’t good enough if we don’t fit a particular mold.

I’m embracing my flaws – my freckles (which I have always loved), my dimples (which I never have), my quarterback shoulders (which I’ve only recently become aware of), my weird square chin and those funny lines it has when I smile – I love these things because they are ME. Without them, I would not recognize myself. My flaws make me beautiful in my own way. What are your flaws?

Beauty in a Magazine

Thank you, Glamour, for this!


She is beautiful. Even more so that someone in corporate got a clue that THIS is what we want (need) to see. Despite the fact that it was such a small photo, I am glad it was printed at all. Next step: bigger photo.

(It does make me want to vomit a little, though, that she is considered plus sized in terms of modeling – look at the definition in her body! She’s perfect.)

Marks of Life (Shi)

~Your Age: 25
~Number of pregnancies and births: 2 at time of writing this, currently now have three!
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: at the time my boys were 2.5 and 1 month old. They are now almost 5, 2.5, and 7months

I wrote this back when you had a post about writing a letter to your body. I had sat down and let my feeling flow, and this is what I ended up with. I hadn’t posted this, since it was written only for me and was privet but found it recently and re-reading actually made me tear up. I am now a Mommy to three boys, and I love my body and all the marks of life it holds. I thought some might benefit from reading this :) I am a Mommy, and I look like one!

Dear Body,

Wow, this is a really great idea, something that almost anyone I know would likely tell me I DON’T need to do, that I am one of the “lucky few”, that having to even think of doing this is beyond ridiculous. But I am human, and no matter how perfect I may seem to someone else, we women are always able to see any and all flaws. Its funny that I make excuses for why others look worse, or that they look that way, but I never should have…I didn’t have too. I do try so hard, and I DO love you body, your beautiful, I love your shape, and you have done amazing things for me. Those two boys you nurtured are the most precious things in my life. Its funny that I KNOW I have a lot less marks than most people, and that I don’t have that extra skin, or extra fat, but every now and then thoughts will creep into my head about how I WOULDN’T have them if I’d only taken better care, exercised MORE (How the heck can a pregnant Mom of a toddler exercise MORE that 3 times a week!!) I SHOULDN’T have ate so much at the end in fear of not being able to Home Birth because my baby was small, I should have LOADED that oil on like I did the first time, how silly of me.

The worst part of all is that one single skinny, stretch mark free person can take all the pride I have put into my marks, and challenge it. I LOVE them, they are like an art to me, a scar to remember something amazing, and yet every now and then I can see one picture of one person, and my heart will sink…I WAS that person, I could STILL be that person. The stupid thing is I AM that beautiful Mom, I do have that great post babies body, I look amazing….but somehow I look in the mirror and compare it to society’s “perfect” that was staring at me in that picture.

Why did I put so so much pride after my first baby in the fact that I was tiny AND mark free???? How is that something to hold so much PRIDE in???? SO WHAT if the guys could look at me at the beach, and never know I had a baby….with MY body people can look at me at the beach and KNOW that I have babies…and I still look good!!! I have my man, and I have my babies, and I am NOT looking to attract more shallow men to stare at my sexy figure. I AM A MOMMY, I am striving to have my BABIES stare at me in awe!!! I want my husband and my kids to be attracted to ME, to my love, to my devotion, to my life. How is some random person thinking for a random moment that “wow, she didn’t get any stretch marks” some how a greater reward that my SON, and my HUSBAND running their hands over my life marks, and looking in awe at a map that shows the amazing road I have traveled, the amazing things I have done, the love that I shared when I shared my body with another human, a precious baby, to nourish them, and to give them LIFE, how could I NOT have wanted some outward sign to cherish these moments?

I have two wonderful, giggling, amazing boys, I have a husband who loves me and says to me that my marks “remind me of how much you sacrificed for our family”, he can look at my naked form, and remember each time that great big belly so full of life and love, and remember the moments I nourished our little ones in our womb. Why would I prefer that he be able to look at me for the remainder of my years and remember NOTHING of that time, or have no “motherly, womanly” features to admire, but rather to just see a hot wife, who didn’t change even while giving birth to two of his sons? He loves it, as do I, and when I question this, it actually hurts deep in my soul, like the greatest cheat I have even done to my own life.

I know that I love them, it is only the pictures of naked scar free, post baby bellies that makes me wince, and feel jealousy for a small amount of time. I can proudly walk the swimming pool with my two boys by my side, in my bikini with my marks for all to see, then suddenly a day later, I can see a picture, and wonder if maybe I am wrong, and I should buy a more covering suit, and hide these marks that some may think are a deep imperfection, and a flaw that occurred in my flesh. HOW MUCH MORE WRONG COULD THOSE THOUGHTS BE!!!!!?????? How much more right I was when I was proudly wearing my real, home made, beautiful tattoos. Women will mark with ink their tribute to their child on their bodies. They find it beautiful to permanently etch in a name with a cold, vibrating little knife. I HOLD MY BABIES TRIBUTE DEEP IN MY SKIN, beyond the surface layer, with nothing fake, phony, or cheap. I hold the map of their entry into existence. I hold a map of my journey from one child to desperation for another, and agony, and tears, and prayer after prayer. And then these little lines appeared, this little piece of “Baby art” was drawn about my belly, as that child I longed for, I prayed for, and I agonized for grew, and grew, and grew, as God fulfilled each one of his deep promises to me and as i lived in awe and unending gratefulness, and as he etched within my body, onto my womb which held these children, a sign that will never disappear, some marks that will be with me for the rest of my days, amazing, beautiful, pieces of my soul, shown right there, in that place where these miracles took place.

Would I ever go back and change a thing? You better believe….not a chance. They are as precious as the family they describe.

Februrary 24, 2008.

A Stolen Photograph (I Refuse to be Ashamed)

I was alerted to a certain anti-stretch mark article tonight by reader Sara. The author of this article had the gall to break copyright laws and steal my photograph of myself and my baby son which has been featured on this website for nearly three years. I have politely asked her to remove it.

I will not be linking to this article because I do not want them to benefit from the traffic a link would provide – also because I would prefer this end here rather than become some drawn-out internet soap opera. But this has given me an opportunity to write about something which has been on my mind for awhile. Namely the power we let society have over our esteem.

I am a fat woman. For the longest time, I was ashamed of that and felt that I was unworthy of good things in life – of looking pretty, of feeling pretty, of being listened to, of being admired. Screw that! I am human, I am smart, I am pretty, and I am more than worthy of all these things and more. I am striving to be healthy in diet and exercise and I do hope certain health issues get resolved, which will lead to being a lower weight for this size is rather physically uncomfortable for me. But if not, I won’t let anyone tell me how to feel about myself any more. I used to hide my fat arms in sleeves, short or long. But I won’t anymore. I happen to like the kiss of the sun on my shoulders, and I refuse to be hidden just because my arms don’t fit one particular image of what society says they should look like. I’ve liberated my arms and my esteem.

Society has no right to decide for me that my stretch marks, my extra skin, my body shape make me unworthy. I refuse to feel badly about my body because I grew, nourished and birthed (and nourished some more) two amazing people. I refuse – I simply refuse – to fall into that negative thinking. I have children who I have to be strong for, children who look to me as a role model for what women are – and I want them to know that women are strong, rational, intelligent creatures who can be beautiful and KNOW IT at any size and at any shape.

I really don’t care if people look at my belly and feel disgust. I steel myself against them. I run my fingers along the lines and appreciate what they mean: love. The love of growing my babies. And I simply refuse to let myself even think negative things – I won’t be held down that way!

As an activist, I feel like each person must take a stand. Ten years ago, it was unheard of to re-use grocery bags, but it is becoming quite the norm these days – because each individual person took that stand and made it so. I also feel like positive body image really and truly IS within our reach, only we each have to make the decision not to allow them to imprison us in our own cells of self-hatred. We have to make the decision to just REFUSE to let them tell us how to think of ourselves. How dare they? How dare they try to keep us down?

I find it rather ironic that the photograph that was stolen in an attempt to create a feeling of shame about a mother’s body happens to be a pose which I feel is confidant and self-assured, not afraid to just be, regardless of how many stretch marks and extra skin there may be.

The Birth of SOAM

Don’t let them get into your head. Take control and refuse them access to your insecurities. Fake it if you have to – the real stuff will follow naturally – but take a stand with me and all the other moms on here and refuse to be ashamed!

Female Anatomy

While I’m posting links about our personal bits, I wanted to share a link discussing basic anatomy. I’ve wanted to do this for some time now, because from time to time women posting here, either in submissions, or in comments, get the names of their body parts wrong. I feel like it is very common for women to not be familiar enough with themselves and I really hope that phase in our culture is coming to an end.

Anyway, here is a good guide to the vulva. It’s from a site created primarily for teens, but the information is excellent. As mothers, we probably know some of what she is talking about here, but take a peek anyway, you may learn something. I did!

Diversity of Vulvas

This past Sunday, I was reading PostSecret and came across a secret about a woman’s feelings of shame over her hanging labia. It struck me as very similar to the feelings I had before I started this website. In response to the postcard, someone contributed a link to a post all about the diversity of labia, complete with illustrations (purely educational, but graphic).

I wanted to share this with you all because – just as with mama bellies – I feel like the more images we see of normal diversity, the less fear and discomfort we will have with ourselves if our bodies happen to fall outside of what we, as individuals, feel must be normal.

View the link, share your feedback here, and then pass it along to as many women and men as you can! We need to show the world what normal is.

UPDATE (1/15/15): Also relevant? The Great Wall of Vagina. Yes. It is as amazing as you think.