Sunday, May 8, 2011

Belly Blog Carnival!

The beauty of my body isn't measured by the size of the clothes it can fit into, but by the stories it tells. I have a belly and hips that say, 'we grew a child in here' and breasts that say, 'we nourished life.'

- Sarah from I Am Beautiful: A Story of Women in Their Own Words

A while ago I called for a Belly Blog Carnival, to counter the lack of pictures in our society of pregnant women of size, as a way for us to work through our various feelings about how pregnancy affects our bodies....and yet still honor our bellies for the amazing work they have done.

I am thrilled to say a number of people submitted pictures, blog entries, or both.  Because there were a number of submissions, I've divided them up into different posts.

This post is to list all the blog entries with people discussing their feelings about their pregnancy bellies.  I'll have another post soon with just pictures of those that had specific timelines and gestational ages, and others with just general pictures. I also have a couple of posts already up or coming soon about how women can honor and celebrate their bellies even more during pregnancy.

So without further ado, here are some of the posts people submitted for inclusion.  For those sensitive to these things, do note that some have trigger warnings for frank discussions of body ambivalence.  Some people might find that distressing, but personally I find it refreshing to have such honesty about struggles we all have had sooner or later about body image. I would remind people that such reflection, both negative and positive, is a big part of how we progress further on our journey to self-love and body acceptance.  See these musings as part of our journey of healing and self-acceptance.

Cassandra, a.k.a. Metaphysical Mama at, wrote very frankly about her struggles with self-esteem and body image as she went through pregnancy and post-partum.  However, she ends on a very positive note, noting:
Like life in general, learning to love a body that most of society says isn't worthy of it is a long road full of set backs. I've been apart of the fat acceptance community since 2005 and obviously I still have a lot of issues to work through. Being pregnant opened my eyes to just how much work I have yet to do still, but also gave me a new found appreciation of the amazing things it is capable of, things most of society says it shouldn't be able to do or shouldn't be able to do as easily as I did. And, I really love that.
Arwen Spor of submitted "Stretched Out," some musings at seeing herself in the mirror at 8.5 months pregnant.  The good news is that her baby has since been born, all 11+ pounds of him!  (And yes, she birthed him vaginally.)  About an earlier birth, she wrote: 
I know now why many women refer to natural birth as “empowering.” It was amazing how my body knew what to do at every point in the birth process. I did not need anyone this time telling me what was happening or how to push or anything else. I could feel it. It was amazing. And I will hold onto that for the rest of my life. 

Parker at wrote frankly about her thoughts and worries about her weight and size during and after pregnancy and how it affected her body image, both negatively and positively. You can read about it at A Belly Story: Body Issues During Pregnancy and Postpartum. I really appreciated her honesty and her courage in sharing both pictures of her pregnant belly and her postpartum belly, which you see here.  She wrote:
The postpartum period is such a weird place to be in regards to body identity. Your body was just ballooned to proportions you never thought possible, and suddenly it's gone...Truthfully, just short of 5 months postpartum at 195 lbs, some days I look at myself and I think, "Not bad! Not bad at all! Could definitely be worse!" and some days I am really disappointed by the fact that I still can't fit into the clothes I want to wear. But when I look at my body, I don't hate it. I'm not disgusted. ...Being pregnant and giving birth has brought me to a point of a kind of bittersweet acceptance with my body. My breasts may be different, but I am proud of the fact that they make milk and have been my daughter's sole source of nourishment for her entire life. My body makes her food. That's amazing! Sure, my tummy has a bulge that wasn't as big before, it has stretch marks that weren't there before...but I'm proud of the fact that a life grew in there. A whole person was created inside my belly. I mean, that is EPIC! I gave birth!!  So, do I like how my body looks? On a purely shallow level, I'm not ecstatic about it in and of itself, but I'm definitely okay with it. The strange and wonderful thing is... I love my body anyway. I wish I could high five it. So what if I wear size 17 pants? My body is beautiful to me just the way it is because I am a mother.

One of my favorite birth people, Lexi of, wrote about her struggles with body acceptance too.  She discussed how she knows her body has done amazing things, but she often doesn't honor or respect it enough for what it is capable of.  However, she took a moment at the end to honor and love her body, "flaws" and all.  She wrote:
Women's bodies are changed by childbirth. Long ago and far away that was revered. Saggy breasts, full bellies and wide hips were normal and expected. They're still normal, yet seem very unexpected. We live in a world where our self esteem is determined by how soon after birth we can squeeze into our skinny jeans, rather than being cherished for who we are and what we do. That world inside our own head, where we are meaner to ourselves than we would ever allow anyone else to be to us. So, at least for today, I am celebrating my body and my belly for all it has done for me. I accept all of it, the way it is - the way I am. At least for today, I choose to see my stretch marks as signs of the life I carried within me, my scar as evidence of my love for my children. Body, at least for today, I love you!

Issa of submitted "Big Bare Beautiful Baby Belly," with lots of absolutely gorgeous naked pictures of her baby belly.  Issa is due with her baby shortly but her pictures were taken at about 33 weeks.  She said:

While I’ve spent a lot of my life really concerned about my size, unhappy with my body, and desperate to change it, over the last two or three years I’ve completely gotten over that. I’m really glad that I made that mental shift prior to getting pregnant. So many women, fat or otherwise, feel insecure about their growing pregnant bodies, and I’m glad that hasn’t been a factor for me...In any case, for all the complaining I’ve had this pregnancy...the growing size of my body isn’t one of my complaints. It’s actually probably my favorite thing. I simply love my big beautiful baby belly!
Thank you to all the people who submitted pictures, blog musings, and stories.  It was wonderful and inspiring to go through them all, and I hope it will be inspiring to others who are just starting on this journey. And what better day to publish them than today, on Mother's Day?

Remember, it's normal to be challenged by your feelings as your body grows in pregnancy, and it's normal to feel ambivalent about these changes in your body, especially once the baby is born.  Every woman feels this ambivalence, but it can be even more intense in those of us who have struggled with body image issues because of society's biases around weight.  It's normal, but it's helpful to see it merely as part of the ongoing process of coming to peace with your body. 

Remember, your body has done AMAZING things. It grew a HUMAN BEING inside!! It deserves so much credit for this amazing miracle. 

Of course it's going to be changed by such a momentous process! How could anyone expect otherwise? 

But while it's normal to have mixed feelings about these changes, take time also to HONOR YOUR BODY for the work it has done and for the wondrous miracle it has produced. 

Happy Mother's Day, everyone.


darah said...

Favorite post ever! Happy Mother's Day!

Michael said...

Simply beautiful. Every last one.

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

I love this! I've been thinking through and celebrating my belly during this pregnancy. It's a really complex and inspiring time. These photos are beautiful!