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When Beyonce first stepped out in public after having Blue Ivy, my friend shared a photo on my Facebook wall and said,

“Bey looks better than ever!”

I shot back quickly, “That’s an old picture, I’m sure. Where did you get it?” ‘Cause no one looks that good a month after having a baby – nobody. Then I realized, yes, this was Beyonce’s “post-baby debut” and she looked downright stunning. Who cares if she was wearing four pairs of Spanx—her body was still enviable.

After I had my first child, I was back in my regular clothes in just six weeks, but my body didn’t look the same. My belly was round and soft. Refusing to be camouflaged under shirts, it made its presence known. My thighs (already thick) were softer as well. While I was lighter than my pre-baby weight, things had shifted in a way that didn’t make me feel comfortable naked. And it did not get easier the second time around. My abs, stretched out from delivering two nine-pound children, seemed like they were holding on for dear life.

Perhaps I perused a few too many “Body After Baby!” tabloid covers or maybe I was just naive about what those aforementioned bundles of joy would actually do to my body. I’ve purchased countless exercise DVDs, researched sensible eating plans, and even ran a 5K in a quest to change the softness that has taken over since becoming a mom. But what I try to remember is that my body served a special purpose. It was a vessel and pathway for two healthy, beautiful children. Instead of loathing my body and the changes that have occurred since giving birth, I’ve learned to embrace it— slowly.

I realized why my earlier fitness quests never worked. Instead of working out to show my body love, I was working out to punish it, because I was disgusted with what I saw in the mirror.

Now I’m not killing myself in the gym to lose 20 pounds in a month or starving myself to achieve the perfect physique. I’m embracing change and loving my role as a mom. A few stretch marks never hurt anybody.

Did you struggle with body image after having children? How’d you overcome?

Words By: Tara Pringle-Jefferson
Images: Google

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