A Comment Left Today by Rosie

Rosie just left this comment on an entry from a few days ago. I love it so much I want to marry it. I found myself nodding along with her the entire time, it’s so true to everything I believe that I decided to post it here as an entry of its own. (Paragraph separations and bold are mine.)

The entire first paragraph is vital to understand other women – no matter what we look like, we struggle with it. It’s not a reflection on others, period. I wrote to someone on Facebook the other day that if you put two identical women in a room together they’d declare the other beautiful while picking apart every flaw they could find on themselves. It’s an internal conflict that, at it’s truest heart, has less to do with body image and far more to do with our ability to love ourselves wholly.

The last paragraph has a universal truth that I bolded for emphasis. Read it. Listen to it. I mean REALLY listen. With your deepest heart.

Thank you, Rosie, for writing this.

“Its very complex isn’t it because obviously even if a woman still looks fit and slim and relatively unchanged in appearance her feelings of self loathing are still very real to her. Invalidating those feelings can often lead to an even louder cry of anguish, a feeling that no-one else understands or sees what she sees. But the thing that really pisses me off is that its not her fault. We live in such a crap culture where ideas of what is beautiful or normal are so narrow that even this young gorgeous woman thinks she is undesirable.

We women need to be so courageous, to stand up and not be ashamed of ourselves and not hide our bodies so the idea of beautiful and normal can expand. I’ve had three kids including a set of twins I carried for 39 and a half weeks. I have stretch marks over my hips, twin skin round my belly button that wrinkles when i lean forward and a big bottom and thighs but I wear a bikini when I go swimming. I eat very well and exercise and look after myself. Why should i be ashamed?

But it still takes huge amounts of courage to expose yourself because every other woman who looks like me is covering up in shame! To be honest even women who look like this(with a slightly imperfect belly) would likely be covering up and that is sooo sad (where does that leave the rest of us?).

I don’t think its because of what men expect from us. I know good men see the whole woman. I also separated from the father of my kids and went through these fears. Now I am with a man who is younger than me and everyone says is really gorgeous and he is totally into me. So who are we hiding from, who are we scared of. Shallow crap men that you wouldn’t want to be with anyway? Its not easy but I say we need to have the courage to expect the best for ourselves whatever we look like. To me that means being with a man who sees me as beautiful and desirable as a friend and as a lover. And knowing also that its OK to be alone until that comes along.”

Why Do We Treat Ourselves With Hate?

I’ve noticed a certain sort of recurring comment here at SOAM. It goes something like, “Wow, mama, you look GREAT! Your boobs/belly/bum looks way better than mine – I look like crap and I’m much farther postpartum/younger/had fewer kids than you did.” This comment starts off lovely and supportive but quickly turns dark and self-abusive. Why?

In the past I have posted an entry or two which I had hoped would help bring out the positivity in the women here. I have asked them to share things they loved about the way their bodies changed or simply things they loved about their bodies. Very few people responded to these attempts.

So this week, I decided to do a simple experiment. On Monday I asked for you to share the things you wished you could change about your body. As I expected, I was flooded with comments – 74 here at SOAM and another 46 over at Facebook in just about 24 hours. What I didn’t expect were the comments that answered this question on a much deeper level. Comments like these:

Becky Says:
I could make my cesarean scar darker. It’s been 5 1/2 years now and it’s mostly faded. I don’t want to forget. It was a dark, dark time in my life and if I forget I’m afraid I won’t fight hard enough to keep it from happening again.

Adrienne Descloux Says:
I want to know why she’s only interested in my body. I she a man in disguise? If I had a fairy godmother what I’d *really* want her to change is my yard to being self maintained, more time to play crafts with the kids indoors. ;-)

Samantha Says:
I wish she would change my mind, to give me the ability to love my body/myself as it is/as I am. Seriously. My biggest most hideous flaw is how much I hate my appearance.

Michelle Says:
I have scoliosis. I want my back fixed.

Erin Says:
I wish I didn’t have such a long list of things I want to change about my body. Physically there is a lot I would LOVE to change: brow lift, flat tummy, smaller arms, smaller nose, bigger booty, tan, no acne/scars, better toe nails, etc… But I think deep down, most of all I would ask to learn how to love myself just as I am. Also how to be loved by others. I think if I had that then the rest wouldn’t be as important.

krystine Says:
I would ask the ferry god mother for the ability to smile. Something so simple that I struggle with every day, that my oldest (nearly 4) is starting to notice that mummy is sad alot.

These women, despite the pain I hear in their words, speak from a place I hope we can all understand one day (preferably with as little emotional trauma as possible). The idea that our bodies truly are superficial; they are a means to experience life, they should not be our lives. This isn’t to take away from the very real pain we, as women, have to deal with when it comes to loving ourselves and our bodies, but I hope that one day each of us can come to a place where we have moved beyond that pain.

The next day, Tuesday, I asked for you to share with me the things you do like about your bodies. I guessed that fewer people would contribute when forced to speak nicely about themselves and, again, my suspicions proved accurate. Only 40 comments here at SOAM and ten at Facebook. (On the other hand, ten people “liked” this, compared to only 3 from the day before.)

Why is it so much easier to beat ourselves emotionally senseless than it is to lift ourselves up? It takes work to change this way of thinking, but we must do this work. For ourselves, our daughters, our friends, their daughters – indeed for every woman living in this society. But it is not impossible and it can be done one step at a time.

This week, I ask you to take this step: refrain from bashing yourself when lifting up another mama here. When you leave comments here, please do not hurt yourself in the process. I’m not even asking you to compliment yourself here (yet), I ask that you simply don’t insult yourself. Believe it or not, it’s the beginning of the road to accepting yourself.

A Week of Thanks – Thursday

And before I get to it, I should add how very thankful I am to every one of you readers. Those who contribute, who pass on the link, who read and are changed, those who e-mail me your gratitude. You all have changed my life, contributed to my own growth in accepting myself and my body as I am. Thank you, all of you.


I am thankful for my body, I have more respect for my body now that I have two children than I did in my younger days. I love my curves, love the fact that my curves show that I can bear children, that I am that powerful. I do not look like a girl, but like a woman! Yes, I have stretch marks, and my belly will never be flat, but I gave birth to a 9 lb 9 oz son. If I can do that, I can do anything.

-Julie Ann


I am thankful for so much in relation to my body: that it could be the nest where my son could enter the world and grow in; that, in spite of my anxieties, the nest provided all he needed; that it could open up for him to emerge into full participation in the world; that my breasts could both nourish him and provide a connection to his nest so that he could take his own time about participating in the world; that now he is independent of the breast connection, I can offer him a lap and arms to enfold him and even carry him. I am especially thankful to my breasts. They were only hints of breasts before I was pregnant, like the tufts you can make on meringue with the back of a spoon! And yet, they worked!!! I still remember the day I found colostrum in my breasts: miniscule they may have been, but they worked & nursed my son for 5 1/2 years – I am so thankful for that! I have no stretchmarks, but I do have slightly fuller breasts – still well under an A cup size but MY Mamma breasts!!!

Thank you Bonnie for the prompt to appreciate myself & all of us in this way!

-Andrea in Edinburgh, Scotland


First, I would like to say thank you for this wonderful site you have created. It helped immeasurably during my first couple months post-partum; allowed me to see past the flaws and celebrate the deeper meaning of my body. I had thought there was no way my body would snap back to its formerly fit & lithe self. Reading the stories other women shared allowed me to confront the fact that even if it didn’t, would that really be such a bad thing? Why was so much of my self-esteem tied to my body image? So I decided to live well, eat well, exercise, and enjoy my children. And by about 3 months post-partum, while not quite as taut as before (my “accordion” belly), I was amazed that I could again fit into my skinny jeans. The surprise was how it was a pleasant one, but not one that caused me to redefine my self-esteem…because it was already back.

So, thankfulness. An ode to my breasts.

At 6 months following the birth of my second child, I am still amazed at the ability of my breasts. I am so thankful to have nourished another thriving child, who nurses like champ. When I look down at his robust little thighs, I marvel at how I could sustain a child entirely on my own. It is a mystery to me that my (normally) A-cup breasts could me such great milk producers. Following both pregnancies, they grow to D-cups, and I’ll admit, they are quite lovely. In fact, I regularly admire them in the mirror, telling myself I might as well, since they are temporary gifts. More importantly I love the closeness I feel to my baby while he nurses – how he looks up at me as he drinks and can be instantly soothed – it is a satisfying feeling. It gives me renewed appreciation for mother nature, the perfection of human physiology. And I will not begrudge what happens to my breasts following this second child, because whatever the cosmetic price, they have performed their job admirably, and it will have been more than worth it.



For my American readers, I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving. For everyone, I hope you took this chance to reflect upon your blessings.

Peace to all.

Week of Thanks – Tuesday

I am thankful for my flabby belly that gave me 5 beautiful children. Who in turn have given me a lifetime of love and happiness as well as my beautiful granddaughters!



My 3rd child will be 3 months old tomorrow. In the shower this morning I was looking down at my deformed stomach thinking “wow I still kind of look pregnant” except now it is misshaped and kind of points out to the left. My next thoughts were how lucky I am to be a woman and be able to carry life inside me. Before I was a mother I thought I knew what love was, but it was only when I held my first born for the first time that I truly understood. I love who I am as a mother. My pregnancies and births have transformed me. Like a caterpillar changes into a butterfly. The stretch marks, flabby skin and less then perky breast are beautiful because they are a reminder of the lives and love that surround me. How lucky I am that this body carried 3 beautiful healthy children. How lucky I am to be a mother and feel my baby kick and move. How lucky I am to be a mother and be able to provide nourishment for my baby. My body empowers me. What’s a few stretch marks when my body has done all these wonderful things. LIFE! What could be more beautiful than Life?



I will be sharing thoughts from our readers during the week about the things we struggle to be thankful for. If you’d like to participate, e-mail me your thoughts to bonnie@theshapeofamother.com and I’ll post this sometime this week.

A Week of Thanks – Monday

(I really intended to do this earlier – I mean there are parts of the United States where it is not even Monday anymore – but last week got so very busy and I am only now beginning to catch up!)


Strangely, I am now thankful for the “baby pouch” that hangs in the vicinity of what used to be my stomach. I was tearfully and harshly judging my hanging stretchmarked skin one day when my husband asked me what was wrong. I held my stomach in my hands and said, ” I hate this thing… Look!” “Its awful!”

My husband hugged me and put his hand on my stomach, I wanted to scream “For goodness sake don’t touch it!” but he just kissed me and said, “I love the baby pouch, you just need to remember it is where you carried our boys when they were tiny little babies, I think you’re beautiful.” How did he get so darn insightful? Of course, there are times I wish it wasn’t there, but not so often anymore. I realize it is part of being a woman, more importantly being a mother and for that I thankful.



I am constantly learning and re-learning to love my body. It has endured much change over the last ten years. About a year and a half ago, I gave birth to healthy boy/girl twins at 38 weeks, 1 day. I am 5’ 2” and the babies’ weight totaled more than 12 lbs. While I had not escaped stretch marks entirely after the birth of my son 5 years prior, I had lost all my baby weight plus another 10 lbs. My body was by no means perfect, but was no worse the wear. After the twins were born, and my weight started to go down, I was left with an excess of very saggy, very accordion-like skin on my stomach. There are days that I look in the mirror in near-horror. I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and realize that I traded my stomach for two healthy, full-term babies. I know that I have been beyond blessed with these little lives and that the trade-off was well worth it. There are many out there who would trade places with me (and my body) in a heart beat. I know I have much to give thanks for: body, babies, and more.



I will be sharing thoughts from our readers during the week about the things we struggle to be thankful for. If you’d like to participate, e-mail me your thoughts to bonnie@theshapeofamother.com and I’ll post this sometime this week.

Giving Thanks

Here in the US we are gearing up for our biggest harvest feast. While traditional images of pilgrims and cornucopias permeate decorations everywhere I go, I would like to take this a bit deeper this year and encourage myself – and you – to look at the so-called flaws in my body and consider them in a new light. Why am I thankful for my stretchmarks? Well, the obvious answer is that they grew while my children grew inside of me. I could also say that I am thankful for being a part of this sisterhood of marked mamas – I am not alone, you all lift me up daily, I am blessed for that. This is not to say I have nothing in common with mamas who don’t have stretchmarks, or who bounced back perfectly. I think women in general have a problem with body image. So, I am asking you to write for me why you are thankful for your body – the flawed bits in particular. If you adore every inch of your body, I want to hear from you as well!

Send me what you’ve written, be it a list, an essay, or a short sentence. I will compile these and share them during the week of Thanksgiving. Even if you are not from the US, you can join us in thankfulness – after all, this should be our goal every day of our lives.

E-mail this to me at bonnie@theshapeofamother.com and title your e-mail “Thankfulness” and include the name you’d like to be credited with! Spread the word to the women you know, I think it would be fantastic to show the world an overflowing of these messages. Goodness knows we need to see positivity in this area!

Happy Birthday, SOAM!!


Three years ago today, I created the first post for this website. I agonized over whether this idea would succeed or if it would fall flat on its face. I begged my friends to submit photos and to pass the word on. And then within a month, I was receiving thousands of hits daily, had done an interview on Canadian radio, other interviews for online magazines and was absolutely floored to have been featured in the London Guardian. The immediate success of the site speaks volumes about how desperately such a source was needed.

I am honored to have been a part of this and honored that you all have been on this journey with me. We have made a difference already in this world, but we have a lot more work to do. So today, as a present to this website, say something nice about your mama body. You don’t have to mean it yet – that will come later – you just have to get the words out of your mouth. After all your body worked hard for you and your babies. Give it some thanks and admiration. Leave me a comment here telling me what you said and then pass along the link to this page to all your mama friends.

Here’s to another year and many more!

(Thanks to Dave Flota Photography for use of the photo!)

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.