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  • Abby Branch

Post-Pregnancy Body Image - Struggle vs. Celebrate


Okay, I'm starting this blog post off with a disclaimer:

This is a very vulnerable blog post for me. So take it all with a grain of salt. And I ask for gentleness.

I've never been pregnant or given birth, meaning I've never experienced post-pregnancy body image struggles.

HOWEVER, I am a woman. I listen to other women, young and old, new moms and more experienced moms, skinny moms and curvy moms, women who have lost children, who can't have children, who don't want children, and who are estranged from their children. I've also been asked that lovely, invasive question "Do you have any children? No? Well, do you want any children?".

With these things in mind, I will not claim I know how it feels to have postpartum depression or post-pregnancy body image issues. But, I am a woman. I am an aunt to 12 nephews and nieces. And I have struggled with depression and anxiety, and all sorts of pelvic floor issues.

And I know how it feels to struggle with body image issues. I know how it feels to binge, to starve, to self-shame, to overcompensate, to weep, to stress-eat, to rejoice, and to struggle with what my body can and cannot do.

I also understand that there are THOUSANDS of blog posts floating around in internet-land about this subject.

Now that that's done, lets move on.

In today's society, women are under immense amount of pressures to look, smell, act, play, and even work a certain way. And it's not just men that put women under the microscope; women do it too!

We do this to ourselves! We tell each other to "lengthen your lashes", or "be confident in anything you do", or "lose just 10 more pounds!". We are our worst enemies and best friends. Frenemies, if you will.

With this notion in mind, new moms in today's culture have started to speak out against the "perfect post-pregnancy body" image. They bravely show what real bodies look like after they grow, give birth to, and feed a human being with their body. And that's a beautiful thing. That confidence, that honesty, and that grace for themselves and other women is something we have needed to hear for a long, long time.

(Aussie mom photographed one hour after giving birth.)

Although this new-mom movement is awesome and empowering, I still find myself thinking "Heck, I've never had a baby, and I have stretch marks, cellulite, etc etc etc. And I'm a PERSONAL TRAINER".

(I understand it's different from a mama's body, BUT, I still have (and probably always will) have body image issues)

Which brings me to my main point: it still feels like we're putting pressure on women by going to the extreme opposite end of the spectrum, and telling women, "love your body!" or "you gave life, let's celebrate that!".

What about that middle ground that just says "Some days I love my body, some days I struggle with my self image. And that's okay."? When can that movement happen? I understand that there are some campaigns out there that have already started this movement. And I'm ready for it to grow and continue, but I'm also ready for it all to just calm down a little bit. The more attention we put on "image" and "our bodies", the more we separate and objectify ourselves just a little bit more, even if it's healthy or good attention.

With all that to say y'all, I'm starting the Grace Movement: giving yourself and other women grace and space about where they are in life, on that day, in that moment. They may be struggling with their post-baby body, AND THAT'S OKAY. They may have never had a child, and have an extra 10 pounds of love on their bones, AND THAT'S OKAY. They may be morbidly obese because they were sexually molested when they were 10, and are taking small steps to change their lives and health by cutting out soda and walking 1/2 a mile 3 times per week, AND THAT'S OKAY.

Assumptions can be damaging and unfair. Any kind of expectation for anyone can be overwhelming and scary. Let's start giving a different message to each other: come as you are.

You are heard. You are loved. Your story is important. And go from there.

My goal with Glow Fitness was to create a place for women to come as they are, with no expectations put on them. It's also a place for women to come and either start or continue their journey with health in a safe, educational, and loving environment.

And that's what happens here at Glow. We don't coddle or hold your hand; we don't tell you what you want to hear. We meet you where you're at: we guide, educate, and walk through your health story with you.

And we will mourn the struggles AND celebrate the victories with you, one by one, together.


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