What do we think when we hear the words “post-baby body”? Celebrities on social media making us envious. Diet and exercise plans. Miracle underwear. Something to hide, something to cover up.
There’s a belief that if we just put in enough effort, we can make our post-baby body look like our pre-baby body. There’s a creeping sense of disappointment as we gradually realise we never will.
N’tima Preusser has a different way of looking at her post-baby body. The writer and photographer this week posted pictures of herself on Facebook, pulling up her t-shirt to show off her stomach. The pictures are beautiful. There is a softness and a strength to them. The young mum of two looks supremely womanly. She’s proud of her babies and proud of her post-baby body.
“‘Hide it!’ ‘Tuck it in!’ ‘Get rid of it!’ the world shouts at the parts of my body that carry proof of two pregnancies (in which I grew gigantic),” she writes in her post. “These pieces of me are supposed to be gross, and unacceptable and embarrassing. But I spent way too long hating myself to add to that noise. I’ve spent way too long hating myself to waste any more time not loving the thing that I can attribute the most to my survival in this exhausting life.
“My body is responsible for persuading me to get out of bed when daylight was daunting. I put food in my own dang mouth when my brain had convinced me I didn’t deserve to eat. My bones have borne the weight of two perfect children, and sustained them as long as it was capable. And yeah, my hair is falling out in fistfuls. And some things hang lower and softer now that they exist. But my body is my trophy. My scars tell my stories. My body made me a mother, but my babies made me a woman. This figure is mine.
“I own every inch.”
Of course, Preusser isn’t the first woman to push the message of body positivity. But what’s great is the idea of seeing our bodies as trophies. We carried our children inside us. We gave birth to them. We fed them. Our lives have changed, beyond description. Our bodies have changed too. Here is the proof that we are mothers. We are proud of it.
What’s also great are the pictures. Photos of mums showing off their post-baby bodies are often casually snapped, then posted to make a point: this is how I look, take me as I am. But a carefully set-up photo taken with good lighting helps us see the beauty in a softer, curvier shape. It’s not just taut pre-baby bodies that deserve the great photos.
This is the way to display a trophy. With pride.
How do you feel about your post-baby body?