Response: What Mother’s Bodies Really Look Like

Photo from Jade Beall's Facebook page

Photo from Jade Beall’s Facebook page

I saw photographer Jade Beall’s work in the Huffington Post on Tuesday. She takes beautiful, mostly nude photographs of women without correcting the photos in Photoshop and without excluding the angles generally regarded as unpleasant. She shows women in their natural state, blemishes and all. Her work is truly inspiring.

The inner and outer beauty of the women is clearly revealed in these photographs, despite the fact that they may not meet society’s rigid definition of beauty. Beall’s photographs show us that blemishes don’t disrupt a woman’s beauty – a fact that is lost to media’s portrayal of juvenile flawlessness.

Untarnished beauty is for children. Women and men are not children and it is ridiculous to expect that we should look like them. But the media says we should, well, that women should anyway. This is insulting and just plain gross.

Our bodies are vessels transporting ourselves and our babies through this world – and throughout our lives those bodies accumulate the scars of our journey – cuts on our knees, broken bones, acne, stretch marks. A little of this is normal and, arguably, beautiful. Every animal has blemishes. Why have we come to loathe them in women?

Thank photographers like Beall for having a good sense of reality.

Avoid Bodily Injury For Health

However, just because it is perfectly natural to bear blemishes doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to avoid accumulating too many of them – not for aesthetics’ sake but because the more scars we endure, the more we are likely beating ourselves up and disregarding the survival of our species. We don’t go around dragging our bodies across the blacktop, enduring road rash and the scars that result – not intentionally anyway. We generally try to avoid bodily injury.

Likewise, we should try to avoid the types of injuries which start from within and exhibit as outward imperfections. This is what my book Primal Moms Look Good Naked is all about. In the book I show women what is happening inside our bodies when our physiques suffer.

Some general examples of blemishes that should warn us of deeper problems include:

  • Acne does not happen in a healthy, well balanced body. It can be avoided by reducing inflammation and balancing hormones. This same effort not only keeps the person from pimples but also helps him/her to be happier since healthy hormone balance increases feelings of joy. Additionally, the inflammation that is present in an acne sufferer can cause joint problems and weight gain, among many other problems. Acne is not just an aesthetic problem.
  • Stretch marks may be normal in some circumstances when they are mild and it shouldn’t bother us so much to see them, but they can be a sign that the mother needs to improve her nutrition. Severe stretch marks are a sign of low zinc, iron, and other skin nutrients. These same nutrients are important both for fighting off the common cold, to getting a good night’s sleep, to growing a strong baby.
  • Varicose veins happen when blood vessels are weak. Weak blood vessels can lead to cardiovascular disease.
  • Broken bones happen to us when we really take a digger but our bodies are designed to endure a fair beating. When bones break easily, they are weak. This is a sign of severe undernourishment. Either calcium or Vitamin D might be low. The ramifications of low Vitamin D are far reaching.

The scars we endure say something about our health or obstacles we’ve faced in our lives. Most of us modern folk have more scars than we should because we eat less optimally than we should. We bear those scars for the rest of our lives (although even scars can be diminished through good nutrition) and we should not be ashamed of them. Our triumphs and our failures are what make us who we are and we should be proud of the whole package.

Taking care of our bodies and our health throughout our lives and during our pregnancies should be a priority but we should not sit around and lament and be embarrassed about those scars which we have acquired. Our bodies are a history of our growth in this world and that is a beautiful thing.

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