As women, we all deal with extensive body issues. I know, I just blurted out that lingering elephant in the room. For too long, women work tirelessly to maintain an “acceptable” body image. I have never been quite sure who came up with this ideal image, but for the sake of honesty, I have also allowed myself to shamefully disregard my health for the sake of that “acceptable image.”
Unfortunately, as moms, we deal with this issue in a completely different arena. After those beautiful months of pregnancy, or not so beautiful, we welcome an amazing miracle. Little do we know that this bundle of joy will leave our bodies in quite a different state than anticipated. Growing that precious baby for 9 months, brings extra weight for the health of the baby, but that weight doesn’t just disappear after birth. Oh no, it lingers for months, years, or even carries over to the next pregnancy – not an easy realization to accept. In fact, it can be quite depressing if we allow that “acceptable image” to consume our thoughts. We all want to be healthy and happy, but we need to do this in a realistic way and I have just met (over the internet) a woman who has been able to put this taboo subject right into the forefront of social media.
This amazing mom is Laura Mazza from Australia, who blogs at The Mum on the Run and is currently working towards completing her Master’s Degree in Social Work. Laura is a mother of two precious children, but has dealt with body image issues since childhood. She recently set the internet on fire by sharing on Facebook two post-baby photos. Little did she know that sharing her post baby figure after her two pregnancies would create such a stir. As most new mothers internally cope with their postpartum body, Laura decided to share her story with other moms dealing with this same issue.
Since childhood, Laura has been body conscience, whether it was through school drama and dance classes, or comments made by “well-meaning relatives”. She just never felt good enough in her own skin and “started eating less and less” by high school to reach an ideal image.
After giving birth to her first baby, Laura “came through not too badly scathed” and knew she could get back into shape. Laura began to obsess about her image and the food she was consuming, she worked each day to reach what society deemed as “acceptable.” But in the middle of achieving her weight loss goals, Laura was unhappy even though she was receiving compliments about her renewed body.
Laura’s second pregnancy brought new realizations as her body now had drastically changed with “stretch marks,” much more weight gain, and “muscle separation,” so she knew it would not be as easy to bounce back. With the additional obstacles to overcome, Laura was also suffering with postpartum depression. Laura sought help and worked towards personal recovery with the assistance of a woman experienced in postpartum depression. Part of that process was learning to love herself, including her body. Learning to love those stretch marks and excess weight, that those unacceptable societal trademarks of motherhood are truly beautiful.
All women, whether mothers or not, deal in some extent with this issue. Laura Mazza has learned so much through her personal struggles and would like to share her message with all women, this was the reason she shared those photos – to reach out and help others through her writings and experiences.
Laura suggests that, as women, we should acknowledge that each one of us is “different” and “beautiful.”
“Society will always try to conform you to a certain standard, but not even society thinks it’s perfect. Being you is so amazing, and nurturing your body to be healthy is what you should strive for so it’ll reflect onto your body. Look at woman who are powerful for their achievements and use them as your role model. You are capable of so much. Happiness is a journey, not a destination.”
Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed whether it’s through the love of our families, our children, our careers, and our physical appearances. Each of us needs to take every day as it comes and remember that we are all truly amazing. There is no reason to have feelings of constant guilt or apologize for who we are. We need to remind ourselves during the good days and the bad days that we are all remarkable. Thank you, Laura, for being such an inspiration.