The top photo was taken three years before my son was born. The bottom picture was taken 12 weeks after Beauden was born. I hated my body equally in both photos.
In the first photo, I was trying my absolute hardest to look “skinny”. I genuinely loathed the body I wore. I was desperate for that elusive bikini beach body and was resolved to the idea that "that" girl would never be me. I was obsessed with the food I ate, validating my self-worth by my ability to stick to a diet of restriction and the number on the scales.
In the second photo, my self-esteem was at an all time low. My body still felt raw from carrying a baby and birth. There was a softness to it that I wasn't used to, and my hips and ribs were wider. But, the cause of most of my pain - and it felt like a physical pain - were the stretch marks on my belly, tearing across my skin like red angry claw marks. Every time I looked down at them I hated myself for somehow allowing my body to get this way. I saw my stretch marks as some sort of failure on my part to live up to this self-imposed bullshit societal standard about what a woman should look like, not just post-pregnancy, but in general.
I tried everything to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.
I used coconut oil and miracle creams twice daily - sold to me by companies who played on my fears. I was constantly monitoring my weight and was incessantly preoccupied with what I ate so I didn’t gain weight. But my body, in all its wisdom, had its own ideas. I tried to tell myself: “I will not get stretch marks” but I didn't believe it. The thought was laden with fear and had such a powerful energy that I now believe I manifested them into being.
I remember the first stretch mark I got - I was seven months pregnant and on holiday when I noticed it in the mirror.