December 12, 2012

Postpartum bodies and newborn photoshoots

My very sweet mother-in-law gifted to Chris and me the opportunity to have Emilia photographed as a newborn by one of her coworkers who also has a side business as a photographer (Keja Photography). We hoped to get a few family shots while the photographer was in our home because ... we don't often have photographers in our home. So just 6 days postpartum, I found myself facing the conundrum of dressing my new mom body for the camera. Thankfully, my ankles decided to come back to me that morning and I was generally feeling on the mend. Of course we were both pretty sleep deprived. Chris and I hadn't slept much in the hospital due to adrenaline, interruptions, and the tasks of taking care of a new baby. By the time we got home, things weren't much different. But I grabbed one of my favorite maternity dresses (by Maternal America), put on some make up, and smiled for the camera. The baby was a total trooper and slept through most of the pictures. My mom and mother-in-law played dutiful photo assistants.

Although it is easy in this new state of physical transition to be critical of myself, I'm glad I decided to be photographed. A few months ago I read an article by Allison Tate about keeping mothers in photos... she writes that so often moms of all ages shy away from having their picture taken, lamenting x, y, or z random self-critiqued aspect of their physical appearance. The results are that negative self-talk becomes normalized (further) and children wind up with fewer photos of their mothers throughout life. I didn't want to capitulate to the temptations of bashing my post-baby body, even if it feels very unfamiliar to me and (similar to pregnancy) brings its own set of physical discomforts.

Like anyone else, I have good and bad body image days. This was true before and during pregnancy, as I am sure it will be now that I'm postpartum. I will say that during pregnancy it felt as though my pangs over body image were amplified in part due to the unknown and uncontrollable aspects of inhabiting a pregnant body. But no matter how critical I felt toward the end and how unfamiliar my postpartum body feels to me currently, I am determined to embrace positivity and cut myself some slack for my daughter, if not for myself. It's hard enough to grow up weathering the pervasive social expectations heaped on women and girls without also hearing it from one's parents.

Besides, this body grew and nourished my eventual child. Knowing that, I can't knock it too hard! 


snowymt 55 said...

I just adore these pictures--congrats Jess!  Thanks for writing honestly about your journey with body image issues--I think you look absolutely radiant!

the dea diaries said...

Jess, what naturally beautiful photos! I think your mom's idea of bringing the photographer to your home and capture you three in your element was brilliant and is something I'll need to remember ;)

Also, as always, thank you for always being so eloquent in your thoughts on women's body images and the frequent thoughts we face of being good enough/not pretty in an accepted way. I know for me it can be overwhelming to think about and your words today provided nurturing. See, you're a great mom!!

Rebecca Lately said...

The photos are gorgeous, Jess!  I hear you on the negative body talk.  As our kids listen more and more to what we say (and repeat what we say!), I am constantly aware of how I speak about myself/my body.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures!

Trudyfraser said...

Jess, you look stunning. But that's no surprise... you are always beautiful :) Motherhood suits you very well :)

Lin said...

Jess,  you all look beautiful in these pictures!  Congratulations to you and your family.  Can't wait to see what the year has in store for you.  

Grechen said...

congratulations jess!!! you look wonderful :)

thatdamngreendress said...

I think it`s also wonderful to have these beautiful pictures taken during those first frightening sleep deprived days (of many to come)- it`s something to document, and wow, these are fantastic pictures!  Congratulations again, pretty mama!

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carol_prettythings said...

You look wonderful. Truly. And that picture of the three of you in a family embrace is just amazing.

And thanks for your honest and intelligent writing. Much love to you and your family, Jess. 

Kristin said...

These photos are gorgeous.  I especially love the last one.  Wow!

I applaud you for jumping right in and participating in the photoshoot.  You (and your daughter) will treasure these photos.

Judy Masucci said...

Congrats Jessica!  Your baby and your photos are both beautiful!!  

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