There is little I find sadder on social media than reading a request for information on cosmetic surgery from mamas who want to "fix" their post-natal bodies. I am not talking about mums with serious issues as a result of pregnancy and childbirth that are causing pain or restricting movement, I am talking about normal cosmetic things that happen during pregnancy that society, the media, magazines, advertising, have deemed not normal, attractive or acceptable. Don't get me wrong I'm not judging, I get it, I really do, I have those feelings too, and this letter it to myself as much as it is to you a reminder of what is important, what is true and what is real.
Mama, I am talking to you now, crying out to you to show your body some love. Look at the amazing things your body has done for you. It has grown a new life and carried it for nine whole months, that amazing body of yours grew another human, a miracle! Thank your bodies for giving you your daughter or son, thank it for it's strength, it's resilience, it's ability to endure one of the most powerful forces on earth; bringing forth new life. Your body will never be the same as it was before your carried life, those rounded hips, your strong thighs, that ocean tummy, those milky breasts, but why should it be? Different isn't bad, changed isn't wrong. Why should we have to try to hide that we made a life?
We've all seen pictures of women in the media, air brushed to perfection, bodies of young women, un-worked, flawless. We're bombarded by these pictures on almost a daily basis, but these images are not reality. Of course the women in these images exist and I am no way shaming them for the bodies they have, but they are only showing one kind of beautiful, and not only that but a beauty that has been refined beyond the point of reality. What about the beauty of an empty nest? That tummy of yours is exquisite mama. It stretched and grew to accommodate your baby, that skin you grab and fret over is a testament to your body's greatest achievement, and it is a beautiful thing. Your baby no longer resides there but the echo of that second heart beat remains with you as a reminder of your strength and power. Those breasts that grew and fed your infants are a marvel my love! Of course they don't look like they did when you were a teen, nor do they resemble the huge round orbs that we're confronted with on billboards and magazine pages, shiny and rounded, pumped up and plastic and full of lies. But those breasts on your body are yours, doing their job, wear them with pride for they are real, love them, for they are truth.
We are shamed, as mothers for not having our teenage bodies any more. We are fed a steady stream of shame, cartoon pictures of mothers with breasts dragging on the floor, photos of mummy tummies with felt tip lines marking where hard earned skin will be cut away, Magazine pictures of celebrity mothers shamed for their post-natal bodies. Mama, don't believe these pictures, don't let them draw you in, don't believe their lies. Your body is perfect, exactly how it should be, it doesn't need to be fixed because it isn't broken.
What are we teaching our daughters, or nieces, our younger sisters, when we seek cosmetic surgery on bodies that have simply done their job? Do we want to send them the message that when they have children, that very process that brought them into the world, is something to be ashamed of, something to mend, hide, cover up, disguise, pretend never happened? We should be celebrating our extra skin, our stretch marks. Wouldn't it be amazing if we longed for these in the same way our childish minds longer for the beginning of breasts and our periods, as a mark of womanhood, of womanliness? The only way we can change the world, change the way the world sees the bodies of mothers is to change the way we see ourselves.
I am calling out to you mama to be proud of your body, say positive words about it, honour your body by sending out words of love about your it into the world, tell the world that you're not going to be shamed for the scars and marks of your body's ultimate achievement. Reject the lies you've been fed, let's change the future, for ourselves and our children. Let us tell the world what is normal and what is true, and stop accepting the negative world view of a mother's body; because you my love are truth, you are normal, more than normal, you are consummate work of art, you are perfection.