I opened the card and saw my husband looking at me with excitement and anticipation. When I read the words ‘Glamour Photoshoot’ my heart sank and I immediately felt an overwhelming feeling of shame.
It had been 10 days since the birth of my second son and not the way I had planned to spend my 30th birthday. I had hoped for a nice sandy beach, cocktails in the sun and the company of my favourite girlfriends.
My body had other ideas, and instead, I was bloated and breastfeeding, hardly the glamorous celebration I had hoped for.
My body had changed so much over the past four years, it no longer belonged to me, instead I had become a vessel for bearing and nurturing children.
The prospect of drinking champagne, taking my clothes off and posing for a stranger terrified me. I looked up at my husband who was grinning at me, clearly proud of his present, and I burst into tears. I knew he had nothing but the best intentions, hoping to get me back to a place of self love and worth, but I had no desire to see myself as a woman again, nor did I want anyone else to.
The day finally came, over a year later, I couldn’t put it off any longer. I kissed my children goodbye, gave my husband one last knowing glare, packed up my wardrobe and headed into the city.
What happened next actually surprised me. I filled out a form to determine why I was there. I circled the NATURAL option, and in the notes I added “mother of two young children, trying to accept my body again. Please, be kind.”
I was given champagne, which I would never turn down. I was told that my hair colour was straight from the catwalk (huh?), and that it was ‘natural’ for them to put more makeup on me than usual as the camera needs it.