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Jessica F. Hinton Headshot

A Message to Moms About Their Postpartum Bodies

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Tracy Anderson's recent comments in DuJour magazine created the expected firestorm over women and their postpartum bodies.

I don't want to beat a dead horse, and I know that she has since apologized for appearing to judge moms. But I wanted to write this anyway, because her words have stayed with me. No, it wasn't just her words. It was the words of others in response to her words. It was the words of moms who, in responding to Anderson, seemed to express some longing for the women they lost since their pregnancies on account of busy lives and children and juggling work and family. It was the moms who said they had "let themselves go."

During my first pregnancy, I did "let myself go." I gave all of my body to my baby because that's what I thought my baby needed of me.

No, I take that back, in part. That's what I thought I, as a new mom, needed of me. That's what I, as a new mom, assumed was expected of me. To lose myself... to let myself go.

But then when I had my first baby and it was just me in my body again, I began to feel anxious about my new identity as a woman. I switched gears from being okay with losing myself to grasping tightly to the idea that all would be lost if I let the old me, the presumed "real" me, go.

The not wanting to "let myself go" thing was like a mantra that played in my head daily. It was the thing that inspired me to fight the crazy fight that I felt I had to fight at 6 a.m. every morning in order to maintain the parts of me -- not the mother me, but the "real" me -- the part I assumed mattered most and defined me as a woman.

I lost the weight without the help afforded to most in Hollywood at six months postpartum. But, even after losing the weight, I felt changed.

My belly button still stuck out strangely and my breasts looked different. I was a changed woman. The woman I was before children was still there, but mostly, I was someone else. At first, I hated this self. This new woman looked different than who I thought I was, the woman in pictures of my old self. From this place, it was hard to move forward. Like many moms, it was hard to care about what became of my appearance because it (or my new appearance) wasn't the one I thought I really wanted.

But then I decided to change my mind. I decided to love her instead.

This story, my story, is my message for moms.

I did let myself go. It wasn't the worst thing, it just was. After my first and then my second pregnancies, my body and I, we became something else. We changed into something that I now know is beautiful. I changed into someone that I've learned to love and embrace and honor. I lead a healthy lifestyle not from a desire or longing to become the "self" I once was or the airbrushed starlets on those gossip magazines. I did it from a desire to be the most beautiful form of beautiful "self" I am today.

So to moms who say they've let themselves go after a pregnancy and look in the mirror and hate what they see because it's not what they used to see, I say, "it's okay." It's okay to let yourself go. Decide today to love your new self. Decide today that you are beautiful and worthy. Because you really are.

An earlier, modified version of this post was published here on Jessica's blog, Mommyhood NEXT RIGHT.