Written by Dena Fleno for CT Working Moms
We bloggers have a super secret blogger group on Facebook. It's a way for us to throw around ideas, ask each other questions and just plain old kibitz.
A while back, someone mentioned they were scared to click on a link to "Beyonce's Body After Baby." I think we all know what these headlines bring. All you have to do is do a simple Google search for "body after baby" and you see these celebrities with their impossible-to-attain-their-normal-size-nevermind-their-post-preggo-size photo spread in the latest gossip mag.
Now don't get me wrong, those women probably worked really hard to take the baby weight off and more power to them, but we average non-Victoria Secrets models do not have the luxury of Photoshop, airbrushing, personal trainers, private chefs, nannies or several pairs of Spanx. As the wise Katie Schunk stated, "I would be in mad shape if my paycheck depended on it!"
So we got to talking and the idea came up to do our own photo shoot where we would bare our post-baby bellies (in a sports bra, of course). We wanted to embrace our bodies and let the world know we are proud of our saggy stripes!
We picked a date, found our amazing photographer (the genius that is Jean Molodetz from I View Photography) and Kate Street opened her home to this rowdy crew of moms. We got together for our date and brought food and wine (LOTS of wine -- we weren't crazy enough to do this sober!) and started to chat like any old girls night out. It was kind of like an adult slumber party -- giddy women talking about our kids and hubbies, doing each others hair and makeup. We were just having fun laughing and giggling, but we had yet to take our shirts off.
I don't think any of us anticipated what would happen next.
It was a completely liberating moment. Some of us started out a bit nervous and shy, but encouraging comments and catcalls from the other ladies, and let's face it -- the wine -- made it easier. For me, I know I am far from what I may ultimately want my body to look like, but I know I have never felt more beautiful and accepting of my body than I did that night.
This turned out to be more than just a photo shoot to show what real mommy bellies look like or to help us embrace our body image differences -- there are a ton of websites out there that already do this. This was not just another girl's night out -- you can go to a restaurant for that.
This was a gathering of Goddesses.
Shedding our shirts and revealing the places where we grew humans (and one was actively growing) felt so freeing, inspiring and powerful it is hard to put it into words. Thankfully, the smiles on our faces, the laughter to the point of tears and the energetic joy radiating from each of us speaks for itself. As Marie Schweitzer put it, "It was one of my favorite things I've ever done!!!"
I will admit that when I look at pictures of myself (like I'm sure most women do), I pick apart all of the things I wish were different, more sucked in or just smaller. I end up feeling bad about myself and, instead of throwing in a workout DVD, I head to the freezer for a little therapy in an ice cream pint. When I looked through the photos of our shoot, I did do a bit of trash talk about my problem areas, but the feeling inside was completely different. I didn't feel depressed, I felt the energy of the night. I felt the joy, love and sisterhood of that moment and again felt beautiful.
So moms, before you skip down and look at our photos in the slideshow below, we have a mission for you. We want you to hold your own Goddess Gathering. Grab some wine, a sports bra, a camera and your girlfriends -- and take pictures of your bellies together.
We have created a new place on the website for our "Goddess Gallery" and we want to include yours as well. Send me your photos at Dena@ctworkingmoms.com along with a short explanation of how your event went and we will post it on the site. The more women who participate in these events, the more we will accept our bodies and embrace them. It will be life-changing!