Stretch marks, scars and saggy skin: Mothers bare all in post-birth photos in support of women battling the baby bulge
New website created to fight back against celebrity pressure
10:36 GMT, 21 April 2012
With stretch marks, scars and dimples they are women who come in all shapes and sizes.
But for these women that is exactly how they want it – without an airbrush in sight.
A mother-of-two has launched a website to allow women to show off their post birth bodies and offer support to those struggling with their weight.
All shapes: A new website, The Shape of a Mother shows the various shapes and sizes of post-pregnancy bodies as a way to show support of mothers battling to come to terms with the way they have changed
Theshapeofamother.com features dozens of photos of wonky breasts, close ups of C-sections, saggy stomachs and overhangs sent in by readers.
Alongside each are testimonials from mothers who bare their souls to tell of their battle with the baby bulge – or defiance in the face of it.
The website's creator Bonnie Crowder says she wants to fight back against the pressure from celebrity mothers who get their figures back thanks to hours with their expensive personal trainer, or trips to their plastic surgeon.
Victoria Beckham recently appeared in a lingerie photo shoot weeks after giving birth to daughter Harper Seven, claiming she got her rail-thin figure back by working out seven days a week.
A month after giving birth to Blue
Ivy Carter, Beyonce stunned onlookers when she attended an event in New
York in a red dress that gave no hint of an unwanted lump.
Crowder, from San Diego, California, started the website after one day
realising how wrong it was that she hated how she looked after giving
birth to her last child.
She set up the website and initially she was not sure if it would do well – but so far 1,700 women have submitted entries.
She told MSNBC:
‘It occurred to me that a post-pregnancy body is one of this society's
greatest secrets; all we see of the female body is that which is
airbrushed and perfect, and if we look any different, we hide it from
the light of day in fear of being seen.
Let it hang: The toll of having a baby takes its toll on a woman's body most noticeably around the stomach area but stretch marks can be left on the breasts too
‘That makes me want to cry. Sure we all talk about the sagging boobs and other parts, but no one ever sees them.
‘Or if they do, it's in comical form, mocking the beauty that created and nourished our children.’
Among the most touching entries is the most recent by a woman who only identifies herself as ‘Ana’.
She is 24 and has had one baby, a daughter who is now four, but her saggy skin persists.
Under the title ‘Scared to look down’ with a picture of her stomach, she writes: ‘I love my daughter with all that i have, but it doesn’t take away the fact that i am now 24 and i have a huge fear of wearing a bikini or two piece bathing suit to the beach.
‘So many things i cant wear anymore (cropped shirts are tooo cute).. and its def something thats always in the back of my head. i too have spent hrs and hrs on google looking at how amazing these celeb moms look after 1 week of giving birth. its not fair.
‘and it doesnt end with celeb moms.. alot of my friends and friends of friends who also have kids, got back their bodies intact. no stretch marks no sag. why i know we must learn to accept and wear our tiger stripes proudly but its so hard.’
Others who have posted pictures include a mother-of-one only identified as Ruth who is ‘45lbs up, 40 pounds down, learning to love my new body…saggy skin an all!’
The Shape Of A Mother website which aims to raise awareness about how a woman's body looks after having a child
The price: New mothers battling to shed the baby weight find it hard to see how quickly celebrities are able to return to their original pre-baby perfection so quickly
The website's creator Bonnie Crowder says she wants to fight back against the pressure from celebrity mothers who get their figures back thanks to hours with their expensive personal trainer, or trips to their plastic surgeon
The 22-year-old details how she weighed 110lbs before getting pregnant and is now 115lbs a year on.
Another searingly honest post from an anonymous 27-year-old woman who gave birth to her first child five months ago gives an account of the damaging effect of weight-related post-natal depression
She writes: ‘I feel I could sleep forever and not care.
‘I wouldn’t care about whether or not my son needed me.. and I know that’s horrible, but it’s very true right now.
‘I do love my son, but I find that this dark cloud (for lack of a better term) is so poisonous and so belittling that I can’t enjoy connecting with my son. I can’t enjoy what should be the most enjoyable part of our lives.’
A mother of an eight-month-old has also written on the site: ‘I feel as if I am disgusting, I look in the mirror and don’t even see myself anymore. Every part of me has changed, everything. I want to love who I am, but I can’t’.
One of the most refreshing things about Shapeofamother.com is the support that comes from th comments.
Typical is the response to the article posted by ‘Ana’ which reads: ‘You, and your beautiful belly, are Gorgeous!’
Psychiatrist Dr Gail Saltz told NBC that Miss Crowder was doing a public service.
She said: ‘It gives you a more realistic expectation that counters all the celebrity moms that look fantabulous two weeks later.
‘It’s one thing to know, another thing to see. Otherwise, you look down and you feel bad.’