July 14, 2006

We have slowly been moving the stuff from our old bedroom into the new room, and in doing so I cleaned out an entire closet of ancient, dusty piles of clothing. I have a bad habit of buying crappy Old Navy t-shirts, then deciding that even I have some standards and banishing them to an ever-growing stack of ugly, ill-fitting shirts that apparently were designed for the specific purpose of highlighting bra-strap pudgerolls.

Into the donation bag they went – all of them, along with any jeans that took the term “low rise” way too seriously, a too-long shirt that I stupidly cut with a pair of scissors in the hopes a ragged, uneven hem might be fashionable some day, a boxy denim skirt that would make Kate Moss look like a lumbering wildebeest, and a pair of ungodly white fleece-y sweatpants that attract every pet hair within a fifty mile radius.

In the process I discovered at least five pairs of pants that I had hidden away at the start of my pregnancy last year, around the time that I embraced a tender, emotional relationship with Mint Milano cookies and could theorize that my expanding waistline was certainly due to the growing baby, never mind that he was about the size of a pencil eraser. Postpartum, I still couldn’t fit into them, and so kept them stuffed in the back of the closet in favor of roomier styles.

I tried everything on yesterday, and I was thrilled to find that all my old size 10s fit now. The size 8s, not so much, but the size 10s finally fit again. Believe me, I haven’t been dieting, so I think my body has just taken this long to reassemble itself into the same basic shape as before.

The same basic shape, but not exactly the same: my belly is squashier, and weirdly…I don’t know, kind of loose? Saggy. Well, of course. I mean, at one point it looked like this:

35weeks.jpg

And now it looks like this:

postbelly.jpg

I took that photo today because of this website (found via Amy). I spent some time on there this morning, looking at image after image of bodies that don’t fit within our societal ideals of beauty. I mean, to be completely honest my first reaction was one of surprise and disbelief, because it is so incredibly foreign to me that anyone would show that part of their body if it didn’t look like what you would expect a naked, displayed belly to look like – taut, tanned, smooth, muscled – but the more I looked the more I felt amazed and in awe and proud of those women. To show your body in all its reality is to take a step towards owning it, and a step away from it owning you.

I am not a confident person with a good body image. I look in the mirror and I see flaw after flaw after flaw. I am terrified of hitting this “publish” button. Every alarm bell in my head is going off. I have been staring at this web page for an hour, trying to work up the nerve to show you a part of myself that I normally keep hidden even from my own husband.

But the thing is, this is me. Right now. This is my body. I own it.

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Carrie
16 years ago

I so admire you for that dear! I mean, it’s really not bad, you are lovely. My tummy is a being all of it’s own. (Um, and I adopted!) But I know it’s all relevant. And I’m proud of you! Not brave enough to do the same thing, but happy for you. Do you feel a sense of freedom now?

Caitlin
Caitlin
16 years ago

Be proud of that strong, beautiful body, girl! You are so brave to post this, but really, why need you be brave? You are whole and healthy and lovely–why is it so hard for us to just be who we are? Oh right, the clavicle crew we see paraded every day. But fuck them. You look great.

pippa
16 years ago

Welcome to the world of the c-section belly. It will NEVER look the same. But wow, girl… you have guts. I don’t even post me covered up. :)

cbrks12
cbrks12
16 years ago

You look great! And you have a wonderful beautiful baby boy…

You are so brave. There isn’t a monitor my belly would fit on!

Heather
Heather
16 years ago

You’re fucking beautiful, girl. I love that you posted this picture.

Kirsten
16 years ago

YES!!!! I heart you Sundry and your REAL take on life. You are beautiful and girl, I haven’t even had kids yet and you’re body is way more slammin than mine! hehe
Good for you – I fuckin love it!!

laura
16 years ago

Mine looks just like that. We can be belly buddies.

Leah
16 years ago

At 38 1/2 weeks right now, I’m pretty nervous about how I’ll look in the future. But you look beautiful. And brave!

Jem
Jem
16 years ago

I admire you for that too! And I wouldn’t worry at all. I think you’re sooooo beautiful and funny and everything, and I really look up to you. This is sort of embarassing for me to admit, but I wish my stomach looked half as good as yours. And I haven’t even had kids.

Celebrities aren’t real anyway. Their whole lives are devoted to keeping up an image. If you had 8 hours a day to do what people like Victoria Beckham probably do (not eat and work out and get plastic surgery to suck in your stomach while probably still in the hospital after giving birth) then yeah you would probably look like them, but no one worthwhile would look up to you for that.

I feel really stuck between wanting to tell you that I think your stomach looks fine and you have nothing to worry about (um, but it feels creepy talking so much about your stomach, so not in a creepy way) and wanting to say you’re so brave for posting that, except I don’t want the “you’re brave” thing to sound like I think you shouldn’t be showing anyone that. I don’t really mean it like that, I just think that I’m glad you are, and I think it will help a lot of people.

And I wouldn’t be shy about it in front of JB. I used to be uncomfortable in front of my boyfriend, until I realised all the other girls he used to be with were probably uncomfortable with similar bodies (except for the strippers he dated, damn them), and I might as well be the one who was confident and just didn’t give a damn!

Sorry this was long. I think I’m trying to work things out about MY body in my own head. :) Now I’m the one feeling stupid for hitting the publish button!

mandy
16 years ago

I had to say this to you:

When I *met* you, pregnant…I was so insanely jealous of how beautiful you looked pregnant. As your belly grew, nothing else seemed to. It makes me ill, even now to think of it. :) But seriously, although this “part” may be different than it was pre-riley, it is still perfect. You look teeny and I hate you. The end. But seriously, you look wonderful and I am sure everyone who visits you here will agree. I still hate you though.

Emily
16 years ago

Dude, my belly is the same way, and I HAVEN’T had a kid. It’s weird … I’m blaming it on the government. Anyway, rock on with that self-esteem, yo!

Julie
16 years ago

One hot mama.

Bitter Betty
16 years ago

Your body is beautiful. It gave life to your child and every breath you both take is a miracle.

My body is wracked with stretchmarks, some brand new (yay! not) from cancer complications. But I’m alive and at the moment OK. My body might not be perfect but it’s still living and damn right I’m proud of these battle scars. They remind me of what I’ve been through and what strength I have.

And this is what I tell myself every time I slather on stretchmark lotion.

J
J
16 years ago

Thank you so much for posting this, Sundry. You have a lot of courage to overcome your own doubts. You are beautiful–all of you.

I struggle living within my skin in a different, yet similar, way. I’m not a mother but I’ve lost over 100 pounds (and still have a little way to go to be where I want) though diet and exercise. The best way I can describe my body is “deflated balloon”. No amount of shea butter or exercise makes the kind of impact I wish. With my clothes on, I usually feel fabulously sexy. But off I struggle greatly with the scars of what I used to weigh.

It’s something that isn’t talked about. Just as, more commonly, physical changes through pregnancy are not. I really appreciate you highlighting that website and your own experience.

Kelly
16 years ago

You are just awesome. Damned awesome. I’ve already had one kid and am working on the next, but I’m hoping I have the courage and looking forward to the day that I can be as honest with myself as you’ve been today. Honest. Brave. Amazing.

Anna
Anna
16 years ago

I’m the same pants size, belly looks the same, same c-section scar, and I lost 40 lbs. post baby to get here. Still struggling with wearing a bathing suit tomorrow…

You rock for publishing this, and give me courage to feel comfortable in my skin. Don’t you wish we could see ourselves the way we see other people?

Kristen
Kristen
16 years ago

1) You are totally brave.
2) You are totally beautiful.
3) You are totally inspiring.

Wendy
Wendy
16 years ago

You are so right! I have to say I was shocked when I saw the photo, not because of how you look, but because it just seemed too intimate to display. But, at almost a year postpartum with my second child I’m also having to come to terms with my new body which looks just like yours. There’s nothing wrong that!!

Kari
Kari
16 years ago

I look just like you, strangely sagging belly and all. Almost like there’s excess skin right? Yeah. But there is something very strange happening. I keep losing the chub, only to get it back less than a week later. I’ve been eating well constantly, so that’s not it. It’s so frustrating to think “oh, sweet! it’s gone! yay! wasn’t expecting that, but wooo!” only to be proven wrong several days later. But. You and that website make me realize that I SHOULD buy a two-piece for my vacation.I should show my belly. It’s a badge of motherhood. I should wear it proudly, instead of despising it the way I have. BUT! That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying…. hehe.

Now I want to take a picture of my belly and put it on the internet. HAH! No, I’m not as brave as you.

Dawna
Dawna
16 years ago

I don’t know what else to say but thank you =)

thejunebug
16 years ago

You are beautiful, Linda. Absolutely, sweetly beautiful.

Contrary
16 years ago

You’re a brave woman. Braver than I, to be perfectly honest. I MIGHT could be be convinced to post a picture of my matronly upper arms, but that would be as far as I go.

Good for you. Also, you look great, especially considering how big that same belly got when you were pregnant. Did that kid really need all that space? Was he having wine tastings in there or something?

Alex
16 years ago

Sundry, I love you. I absolutely, positively fuckin’ love you.

Robin
Robin
16 years ago

Thank you so much for posting this. You are amazing.

Mona
16 years ago

I hope more women publish pictures of their post-partum bodies. There’s something very awe-inspiring about revealing the un-photoshopped self.

K
K
16 years ago

Wow, your belly looks great! I wish we all had the courage to be comfortable in our own skins. How sad that we feel so compelled to hide our beautiful, healthy bodies.

christen
16 years ago

Um, yours looks better than mine and I have NOT had a baby. So yeah.

oregoncoastgirl
oregoncoastgirl
16 years ago

excellent. and beautiful.

honeybecke
honeybecke
16 years ago

You are woman, and we hear your roar.
thank you.

jonniker
16 years ago

I think you look wonderful.

(and yeah. I’m with Christen. Same as or better than mine and I’m still pre-pregnancy, pre-partum, whatevs. Right. Hitting the gym tomorrow.

Elissa
Elissa
16 years ago

You’re beautiful. Inside and out.

Sparkles Anon!
Sparkles Anon!
16 years ago

Beautiful belly, mamma. :)

Waya
16 years ago

My hat’s off to you for being so brave! That was a great read!

Kristin
Kristin
16 years ago

Your belly looks like mine, and I am extremely pleased to see that you also have a faint brown line. (Why, the faint brown line, why?)

You’re inspiring, friend.

Carolyn J.
16 years ago

Holy shit! You have some cojones girl. I hate posting my face even, so I can only bow down to your Bold Move.

I always thought you make a fairly Yummy Mummy anyway.

trackback
16 years ago

[…] Sundry linked to this website today, and posted her own entry on the topic, and my goodness. I’ve never been pregnant, but I often feel insecure about my body anyway, and now I feel so much better to know that there’s so many people feeling the same way, even the ones who I just assumed looked perfect underneath their clothes. I would write more on this but I don’t have much time, so I’ll write more about it next time. For now, I’m just trying to post those photos of me, even if I don’t like the way I look in them, and trying to deal with the fact that I’m normal. […]

Holly
Holly
16 years ago

Dude, Shut it, you’re a MILF! :) Seriously, me thinks you looks dang good little lady! My favorite is the Big Bellay shots though, so friggen cute, I wish I could just have a big belly like that and keep the rest the same :)

Chiara
16 years ago

Looking forward to making out with you on Monday because you = so hot.

fuzzy
16 years ago

It bugs me how many of us moms responded here by saying “Awesome, but I could never do that.” I’m not blaming anyone, but I am wondering if we shouldn’t all rethink that. What if we ALL had the courage to be open about our post-baby bodies, even posting pictures? Wouldn’t that help change the perception that all women should have perfectly flat stomachs six weeks after birth? Wouldn’t that help us, our friends, and later our daughters NOT find our own bodies repulsive?

My daughter is eight months old. I’ve been mulling over writing about how I sort of love my already-fading starburst of stretch marks on my belly. It’s like– a seal, or something like that. An indication of what she and I went through together. I think you’ve just nudged me enough to get me to sit down and think through it. It’s worth recording for my daughter to read someday, and it might just help me love “the skin I’m in” a little better.

Thanks, Linda.

Hot-mommy
16 years ago

hey! when did you sneak into my house and take a pic. Okay so really that is pretty much where i am at too, and i have 2. be a beauty you are a WOMAN!!! men only see the hotty clothes anyway! there are much worse off truly. embrace the maternal junk, it too will pass.

Pete
Pete
16 years ago

Wow, looks just like my wife’s did, including the C scar. You will find that as you loose more weight the skin gets more, how should I say, Shar-Pei like. The up side is you get to make funny faces with the skin when you squish it together ;-)

Good post.

Lucy
16 years ago

God, this is awesome.

I’m 25, and I’m planning on having children in the future and I love love love the shit out of you for showing me that a body – pre childbirth/ post childbirth – is a beautiful thing that is built to do exactly what yourself and millions of mothers have done .

I love that a woman I look up to doesn’t lie to me about what to expect.

So thank you.

Widya
16 years ago

You look great, Sundry. Some men wear their battle scars with pride, women should wear their pregnancy scars/stretch marks with pride too. To have carried a child to term, and to bring him or her into the world through all the discomfort and pain, is noble.

Donna
Donna
16 years ago

Dude, when I was your age I was all embarrassed by my tummy cuz I’d had two kids, stretch marks, two c sections, and they were from my belly button to my pubic bone, and I thought that I was all funny looking.
Little did I know that my tummy is not nearly as bad now that the boobs are going, if I’d known I’d have run around with it hanging out all the time. Just try to get a tan on it, it’ll look better, and 20 years from now you’ll give money if you could have your tummy look as good as it does now, no matter how ugly you think it is.

fifi
fifi
16 years ago

What I love about reading you Sundry, is I can never predict whether you’ll make a tear spring to my eye; (the last nappy) or have me shaking with laughter (kneepads in trousers facilitating bj’s) , or make me look again at my (nearly menopausal ) belly, and think “Down with body fascism!”
You look friggin’great, girl. You don’t need the validation of others, you’re not dieting like your image mattered more than who you are . Victoria Beckham and Kate Moss make money from what they look like, so it’s awful for them if a “real” picture of them sneaks into the press. I remember seeing “candid” beach photos of the gorgeous Jerry Hall, in the newspapers, which showed that she had *shudder*cellulite. Viva reality. If you bear children, your body may take up to three years to get “back to normal” , something a C-section spares you. The Glaswegian joke about sex post-partum being like “chucking a Mars bar up a close” is an apt description.( A close is a communal hallway, fyi! )
So, I bet JB adores your C-scar, honey!

Lesley
Lesley
16 years ago

May I ask what underwear you are wearing in that photo? They look immensely comfortable and flattering. Your belly looks pretty darned good to me.

Not counting, um, food babies, I have never given birth and yet I’m loose in the tummy and have the dreaded handles. (Unfortunately for no reason I can be proud of unless the quality of my babies – belgian chocolate – make them worthy!)

Lesley
Lesley
16 years ago

P.S. Reading through the comments, I think …well… can we all agree that Pete needs to go in the woodchipper? :) Sharpei and funny faces…MY ASS.

Shawna
16 years ago

Are you sure that’s you? ‘Cause I would, in fact, swear that’s ME! I look exactly like that, right down to the c-section scar and the fold at the top of the belly button. No need for me to publish such a picture – I can just link to you and let you be the gutsy one! Yay for Sundry! You rock, you know that?

Gentry
16 years ago

You guys are so wierd! **Everyone** looks like that! I see near naked women every day and that is what they **all** look like. Even thin (like size 4 & 6) women have the same stomach. Do you guys not know this about each other? I’m totally surprised! And with our without baby, midsections get fleshy the minute you hit 30. Stretchmarks are the norm. If not on your tummy, then certainly on your thighs.

If you got 50 women in a room and all lifted your t-shirts, you’d see it’s true. We don’t need to own any deformity. We’re all completely normal!

HollowSquirrel
16 years ago

Honey, you look fabulous. I have the pale-chicken-pox-scarred version of your post-baby belly. And well, that’s me now. So worth it.