Basically, these are semi-nude studio portraits of moms, accompanied by the birth stories and background bios of each subject. The idea is to celebrate the beauty of motherhood in it’s natural state. As stated on their site, they are “dedicated to embracing the beauty inherent in the changes brought to our bodies by motherhood, childbirth and breastfeeding”. With all the cultural pressure to quickly return to a “perfect” body – unblemished, thin and tight – a lot of mothers feel disheartened and shameful regarding their changed bodies. These photographers want to help change that perception.
So, here is my honest take: I am a little skeptical. Alright, on one hand, I really admire this work, and especially the models. As a mom who has gone through this myself (yep, I have stretch marks – oh, I mean “tiger stripes”), I think it is not only important to understand and acknowledge the changes the female body must undergo to produce life, but to celebrate it. It’s really a miracle, and also a challenge. We should be admired. And these bodies are pieces of art.
That said, I think for any art project to be truly successful it needs to be honest. Ambiguity and tension go a long way. And I think that an approach that included this stance could perhaps shed some real light into motherhood and the complexities of it. While this project shows the bodies of these women and children as they are – in almost the buff – it’s the consistent happiness and huge smiles that start to grate on me. It becomes one-noted. I prefer the shots without the faces as I think they allow the work bring up some questions on what the intent and feelings are. They allow for us to question our own reactions more. But that said, sometimes it is nice to just see some photos that make you feel happy and proud – and these definitely do that.
Now I am admittedly a somewhat vain person. I grew up in a culture that puts a lot of emphasis on looks. And I worked (somewhat) hard to keep in shape during my pregnancy with the hopes of keeping my body as close to the same as possible. And it was hard for me to look at what my body looked post-delivery. About 9 months post-delivery I was back to the same size as I used to be, but things had changed (ie. those pesky stretch marks, deflated breasts, looser stomach skin.. oh and not to mention all the hair loss – though that thankfully returned). But, these changes were 100% worth it and I would NEVER doubt that. So, while there is a part of me that would love to have an image taken of me celebrating what I have gone through, there is an other part of me that knows this wouldn’t be a honest portrait.
Ok, so that all said, I have some good news regarding this body – it has started to grow again. Yep, I’m pregnant! And I have included a couple photos I took today of myself on the scale – meant to be a little humorous : ) Just finished my 1st trimester (due at the end of September). I have gained a few more than the recommended <5 lbs… but that’s ok, right?! I am excited, starting to feel a bit better on a more consistent basis, and am looking forward to finding out the gender at the end of the month. I am not sure the reality of it has actually hit, but frankly I am too busy with work and Calvin to focus as much on it as I did with the first pregnancy. Which is kind of great, because frankly I am not a huge fan of being pregnant (I know some people love it, jealous!). But, the result was SO worth it, and that is what I am looking most forward to, even if I am not thinking about it 24/7 like I did with C.
FYI – what this means for you clients who enjoy your Fall sessions – probably not going to happen this year. So change it up – book a Spring or Summer beach session!!