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body image

The Change in My Reflection: On Body Image and Self Love

body image and self love

I think we all have things about our bodies we don’t love, that we’d like to change, maybe try on a different version if we had a chance. Sound about right? I joke that I wish I had a smaller nose and bigger boobs. Someone got the recipe mixed up when they made me!… or so I joke.

Union Swimwear one- piece swimsuit

Those are the things I’d say I don’t love about my body; I actually considered getting a nose job in my teens, but after a fair bit of consideration opted to keep things the way they are. I figured if I couldn’t accept myself for the I was, then how could I expect someone else to? This especially resonates with me now that I have kids- and especially a daughter who I hope to raise to be confident in her own skin. Obviously there are some things that are harder/ impossible to change without an elective procedure, but knowing I had the option to change my appearance was a tempting one when I was younger and I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t considered getting a little work done when we’re done having kids.

The topic of body image and acceptance spans a variety of areas and isn’t limited to the changes we experience after having kids (both of the things I mentioned above stem from the years before I had kids). And on the topic of boobs, let’s face it: those are never the same after having kids and breastfeeding. I find that these kinds of emotions come in waves, sometimes we feel great and other times things chip away at us, at how we feel about ourselves. But while I  sometimes wish I could change the things I mentioned above (or maybe something else depending on the day), I have also learned to think about things differently: what are the things that I can change for the better – such as my physical health– rather than those that I can’t? For example, one of the major changes my body has gone through since having kids is that my stomach and midsection by no means look the same as they did before.

Union Swimwear one piece swimsuit

I used to have a flat stomach, one that I kept toned and was proud to show off. I liked how I looked in a bathing suit- maybe a little more up padding top would be nice ;)- but I was and still a beach bum in the Summer. Take me to water and I’m a happy girl. But following Ariana’s birth I was left with stretch marks (I figured I probably would since my Mum has them), and no matter how hard I tried, my abs and the skin in that area were not the same. Looking in the mirror that Summer I questioned whether I would still be a bikini kinda gal or make the switch to some of the cute one pieces I’d been seeing. Follow that up with a second child and additional body changes and I was really unsure where I stood with myself when I looked in the mirror. I didn’t hate what I saw, but it took some getting used to, some acceptance, and that took time. Some days I think back on what my body used to look like and sometimes it gets to me, I’ll be honest. For whatever the reason, those things can creep up on us and affect us out of the blue. But that doesn’t mean they’re bad, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. They just are. 

This past Summer I hit up the beach as much as I could, ran around in a bathing suit on the hot days, and enjoyed the bright sunny days of the season while they were here. I still have things about my body that I scrutinize (remember my joke earlier about my nose and boobs?) and I’m picky about photos of myself (selfies still make me feel incredibly self conscious- how do you find a good angle with this nose?!), but I also take pride in the efforts I’m making to feel better inside and out. Running is one of those things, and whether I run for 15 minutes or an hour, the way I feel afterwards is a high that helps diminish any stresses or anxiety I may have been feeling prior. I love how I feel after a run and that positive feeling is an overwhelming one in the best way. 

Union Swimwear one- piece swimsuit

Over this past year I’ve shared about some of the personal challenges I was facing, and also about the addition of running into my routine and upping my self- care game in the hopes that others would be able to relate. As with any journey, it hasn’t been straight uphill but overall it’s been a positive one; I just had to make some changes. It isn’t always easy to face things, the things that really hit home in our hearts, the things that are hard to shake off. But that doesn’t mean you have to rip off a Band-Aid or go from one extreme to the other. It can be small steps. Slow progress is better than none. Learning to love and take care of yourself don’t always come easily, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve it. 

Thank you to my friend Janette of Ava to Zoe for being on this personal ride with me and encouraging me to share more on the topic of self love and body image. And to Union Swimwear for being a company that encourages positive body images in women and helping us share about this topic.

Photography: Akane Kondo Photography

Swimsuits: Union Swimwear

October 3, 2017

Warning: This Body Has Stretch Marks. And That’s OK

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My body wasn’t the same after having one baby, and it’s definitely not the same after having two. AND THAT’S OK. In the spirit of my new collaboration with Pacific North Photography, The Mamas Project, which launched this month, I wanted to share about my own motherhood journey- the physical and emotional, because sometimes it can feel like all we see and hear on blogs and Instagram are the pretty moments, and the truth is that just isn’t the whole picture.

This post isn’t about getting attention, about fishing for compliments, or anything like that. It’s about facing the challenges and insecurities that come with becoming a Mom and encouraging other women to look at what they see in the mirror after they have children and learning to accept and love what they see. Maybe you haven’t lost all the baby weight, or your boobs aren’t as perky; maybe you’ve got a scar from having a c- section, or have stretch marks where your abs once were. And that’s ok. And just so you don’t think I’m one of those women who flew through birthing babes without noticing a difference, I’m sharing some personal insecurities and reflections of my own along with photos of my post baby body (if you don’t want to know what it looks like, don’t scroll down- you’ve been warned).

I’m going to start by sharing some private information: I’m a size 7 (probably more like an 8 right now). My weight fluctuates; I usually weigh between 127- 132 lbs, depending on how healthy I’m eating and if I’ve been exercising. I returned to my pre- baby weight after my first after a few months, but have yet to see what my body and weight will go back to after having Liam. And before you start to think that doesn’t sound so bad, here’s the rest of what I want to share: I don’t always feel sexy. I have itty- bitty little A- cups that seemed barely there after I finished nursing my first, and honestly I’m a little scared to see what’s going to be left of them after I’m finished nursing #2. And while I am blessed with my Mum’s fast metabolism, I have also inherited the same tell- tale signs that I’ve carried children that she does: varicose veins, spider veins, and stretch marks. Lots of them. Everywhere. 
While my body bounced back pretty quick after having my first, I’m noticing that this time it’s taking longer to return to my pre- baby weight, and that my jeans still don’t do up. No matter how many crunches or crazy contortions I try, I can’t seem to get rid of my love handles or that little pudge of skin around my belly button that is the trademark of carrying children.

Under layers of clothes the changes aren’t so noticeable, but stripped down there’s no hiding the fact that my body’s not the same. And here’s a confession: Just because I can still fit in a bikini, I’m not sure I’ll rock one in public again. I haven’t decided yet. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of how I look, but I don’t feel that I’ll gain any more confidence from proving to myself- or would it be to others?- that yes, I’ve had kids, but I can still wear a two- piece damn it! I don’t care what people think of my stretch marks, but I don’t need to flaunt them on the beach to prove that to myself. Accepting them quietly on the inside and sharing about that here with my readers is all the proof I need. This body has stretch marks, and that’s ok.

After having Ari, I put my belly button ring back in almost as an act of defiance that my body hadn’t changed that much. This time, I’ve tossed that idea out the window. I now have a line that stretches from my bikini line to above my belly button, which combined with the dark scar tissue from the piercing  has me thinking that that youthful piercing has run it’s course; this is a more mature body with the scars to prove it. Retiring my only adventurous piercing isn’t hurting my ego or a symbol of getting older, of getting a ‘mom body’. I look at it, and the bikini in public thing, as gracefully embracing the changes that motherhood has made to my body and life. I would rather transition into different phases of life with class and grace than cling to vanities from earlier years in an act of defiance towards aging. I’m 27, I have a body marked by children, I’m not sure what swimming attire I’ll be sporting this Summer, and that’s ok.

I am lucky to have a husband who loves me and the body that has changed so much since we first met. I owe him a lot of credit for keeping my spirits high, my confidence intact on days where I have wavered. He reminds me that there is no such thing as perfect, that he loves me, all of me, and to not be hard on myself. Before I got pregnant I remember asking a lady I know and respect if she had stretch marks and what she thought of them. I’ve never forgotten what she said, especially since it resonates so strongly with me now. She told me not only did she have them, she was proud of them. They’re her battle scars. Memories her body carries of the two children she carried and brought into the world. Just as I have now done. And I remember thinking how much I hoped that I would have that same outlook after having my own. Looking at my body today I sometimes get nostalgic for the 18- year- old abs I once had, but I wouldn’t trade my kids to have that body back. My legs may have visible spider veins, my bum may have stretch marks (how I don’t know, but they’re there), and my tummy may always be a little soft & squishy, painted with stretch marks from each of my children. These are my battle scars. And that’s ok.

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a while, but I needed the time and focus to write it the way I really wanted. This has been a little like writing in a diary, putting the thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head into something cohesive on paper (or rather, on screen). It’s about sharing without prejudice the honest journey that our bodies- and we ourselves take- after becoming Mothers. It can be everything you hoped it would be, but you still need to allow yourself to reflect on and process the things that have changed, that are not the same. I am not who I was a few years ago, my body will never be the same, my life will never be the same. And that’s ok, because it’s all worth it.
How has becoming a Mom changed you physically and/ or emotionally? What personal journey have you taken as a Mother? 
Don’t miss The Mamas Project, a collaboration between TPB & Pacific North Photography coming in June, a conversation about self love and finding success as our new roles as mothers.

June posts sponsored by Little Dreamers Consulting

June 12, 2015