Thank God for The Internet and The Beautiful, Brave Women who use it.

Last week I posted pictures of of my stomach. I tried to make light of it, but the truth was, I was terrified of letting people see what it REALLY looks like.
I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve cried over the way my stomach looks. When I see it in the mirror, I feel like some kind of a beast. When I’m watching a movie with my husband and an image of a beautiful woman with a stomach that is flat and not full of stretch marks and a deformed belly button appears on the screen, I want to throw up from the shame that I feel for the way that I look.
No matter how many times my husband tells me that I’m beautiful, I can’t believe it because of my stomach..
His hands gently stroked my belly, as he looked at it. “You’re so beautiful.” He whispered. “Stop calling yourself ugly. I love your body. Those stretch marks are beautiful to me, because they remind me that you carried my children. My children grew in there and you’re beautiful.” The tears came faster and harder. Here is this man, this wonderful, loving man, rubbing the body I hate. Looking at it, loving it. Why can’t I just accept it for what it is?
To expose my belly in that way was terrifying. I didn’t know how people would react. Would people be as repulsed as I was? All of the feedback was positive, except for one comment and of course, that was the one that stuck with me the most.
“your husband just wanted to get laid, why else would he say you are beautiful? Your stretch marks are hideous”.
And that comment was exactly the reason why I had felt so ashamed. My body isn’t what “Society” considers a beautiful body. It’s hideous and repulsive. Sadly, I’ve bought into that lie.
I’ve always felt that I am alone, because my sister has had children and her belly doesn’t look like mine. My cousins have had babies and they didn’t get stretch marks.
That feeling of being the only woman to look this way has made me feel isolated. It has made me feel like I should be ashamed.
That is why I can not stop crying over this site, The Shape of a Mother. (Amalah send me the link this morning.) I’m sobbing over here. To know that I’m not a freak, that other women have experienced such changes in their body, to know that it’s nothing to be ashamed of, even though society (“the media”) tries to tell us differently is a powerful, powerful thing.
*Edited to add* (Shape of a Mother put up a post I wrote on November 2002. I thought I’d repost it here too.

Naked

i stand in front of the mirror, naked.
i cringe at what i see.
my body is worn and torn,
the marks from carrying a child ever present.
my breasts, once perfectly shaped and beautiful
are now large and saggy, repulsive to look at.
my stomach, once flat and smooth,
is now covered with stretch marks, fat, no muscle tone.
i am ashamed.
i will never be beautiful again.
but today i tell myself, although it is hard to look at and it is indeed ugly, it is a reminder that two amazing human beings were formed inside of me and those marks and stretched out skin are proof that life grew inside of me. it is a reminder i made love to a man i adore, life was created and my body was home to those beautiful babies for 9 months. my stomach was stretched as they grew, my breast were enlarged with the milk that would sustain them for the first months of their lives. it takes my breath away when i think back to having them inside of me, to the miracle of their births, seeing them for the first time and it makes it easier to accept the mess my body has become. looking at them, kissing them, i say these marks on my body were a small price to pay for the amazing gift that grew inside of me for 9 months and have filled my life with love and purpose everyday since they were born.
i may be ugly, my body repulsive to look at
but i am a mother
and i am blessed.
Posted by Y at November 3, 2002 07:37 AM

64 thoughts on “Thank God for The Internet and The Beautiful, Brave Women who use it.

  1. Broad

    I’m sure I’ve told you this before, but if it makes you feel any better, my gut has stretch marks, and I’ve never even been pregnant. My gut, my hips, my arms, and let’s not talk about the stretch mark between my leg and the bottom of my ass. I didn’t even know you can get them there …
    You’re not a freak. Promise.

  2. Y

    See, the thing is that women have told me their stories and that I’m not alone. And that’s made me feel better to know that, but to SEE it so open like that, it’s just amazing to me. you know?

  3. Amanda

    Your husband loves you and your body. You have given him a lasting heritage through those gorgeous, bright children and a happy, safe home. These things last – all the botoxed, injected, plastic boob filled women will just grow old and fade away-looking more and more fake and gruesome as time goes on. He sees your beauty out and in. You are a real woman – and I’m thankful you are too.

  4. Hope

    The link on the main post (before you click on comments) is still going to your archived post…
    Girl, you are beautiful. I know that the postpartum bod is a shock to most of us; I have a horrible case of the the lumpy-bumpy cottage cheese look on my stomach.
    I just wanted to let you know that I’m trying (again) to lose 30 pounds of baby weight 3 years after giving birth to my son, and I read your blog because you inspire me. Well, that and you make me laugh.
    Beautiful and hilarious? Ohmygosh, you’ve got it all!
    Have a great day,

  5. Stacey

    THANK YOU for posting that link. I just visited the site, and it is just beautiful. My husband says the same thing as yours about my belly…it gave him 2 beautiful babies. I have berated myself daily for the way it looks. SEEING other mothers makes all the difference…maybe I can start to let it go.

  6. Jen

    [delurking]
    I don’t know if you want another story about someone else, but I’m just like Broad – I’ve got stretchmarks on my belly, legs, ass and (worst of all!) boobs, and I’ve never been pregnant. God help me if I ever have a baby!
    [relurking]

  7. Finy

    I’m not even a mother and that site touched me enough to bring tears to my eyes. I hate sounding so cheesey and cliched, but we are ALL beautiful in our own unique ways. Screw the media and those stick thin models you see in magazines. We’re real. And that’s ten thousand times more beautiful than some air-brushed-exist-on-cigarettes-and-coffee-alone cover model. Now pass the steak :)

  8. Cheryl

    I can’t thank you enough for putting the link to that site in your journal. I really can’t. Like you said, I know other women have stomachs similar to mine but I had never seen anyone elses until now (yours looks better than mine..I would love to have yours). I really really needed to see that site. I’ve been working on losing weight but part of what holds me back is knowing that my stomach is going to sag a lot more and is going to be a lot flabbier if I lose weight and I’ve been telling myself that I would rather be fat than to have my stomach look worse than it does now. My mom gets upset at me for having this attitude. She tells me I’m vain and that I should be more concerned about my health than my stomach. She said that she’ll pay for me to have surgery if I’ll lose the weight but you know, after looking at that site I’m feeling better about my stomach now and how it’s going to look (I really don’t like the idea of having surgery). I’m crying now too. Thank you so much Yvonne *hugs* and much thanks to all the women who posted their pictures.
    Cheryl
    P.S.- I’ve admired you for quite some time for posting your pictures during the your weightloss progress.

  9. demondoll

    I didn’t read that pencil d*ck’s comment, but he’s so wrong. And out of line. (That kind of mindless cruelty is appalling)Your body is beautiful and strong, and getting healthier every day. You provided your babies with everything they needed while in utero, and you continue to do it with that lovely body and soul every day.
    My body still hasn’t returned to it’s pre-baby shape. I still struggle with self-esteem issues. And your courageous posts inspire me to try a little harder and to love life more.

  10. RC's Girl

    I didn’t read that asses comments either. I want to kick him. “Oh, The Joys” said it perfectly: “That commentor was commenting in the spirit of meanness, not the spirit of truth because you really are beautiful.”
    I believe that too. Truly.
    Thank you for linking to that site. My body is less than perfect after having my son. Some days I totally obsess over it and some days I can’t stuff enough cookies in my mouth.

  11. Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

    You are astoudingly brave to have posted that. I don’t think I could do it. I agree that the media has ruined me – well that and the fucking Limited only carrying up to a size 12.
    If you want it, I’ll e-mail you a picture of my stomach too.
    But just you.

  12. Cindy

    Y,
    keep in mind that opinions are like assholes and EVERYONE (unfortunately) has one. Don’t let the comment of one person bring you down. BTW- thanks for posting the link to that site. It’s refreshing.

  13. Julianna

    Dumbass. He was a super-dumbass to say such a thing about you AND your husband. it is insulting to both of you!
    I hope my husband will be as fantastic as the other husbands I am reading about when it comes to be our time.
    I would be just as worried as you are, and just as self-loathing. But we’re both wrong. It’s a hard thing to give up on, self-loathing. It’s like a habit, a comfort. “Things would just bet better if only I was thinner…” I remember thinking that every day when I was 105lbs. Now I am 125 and I still think the same things. When I was 150 I felt the same. And I think to myself.. why was I so concerned when I was 105? And I relaized.. because it had nothing to do with the weight…
    I also picture myself as thin and perfect, with no stretchmarks. I have them.. and no kids. I have them everywhere. I grew 9 inches in 9 months one year. it made a lot of stretchmarks. My husband has never mentioned them, and I have never asked. But last time I saw him, he said I was beautiful again. And I am trying to live with this… trying to accept that someone, anyone, could think I was beautiful or attractive.
    It will be a life-long struggle I think. At least, Y, we are not alone.

  14. lia freitas

    Call me an a-hole now. I obviously didn’t finish you whole post before someone sent me the link and I forwarded it to you. Oh well! What can you do???? Ha ha!

  15. Katie

    Wow, I just came across your site through “The Shape of a Mother”‘s link. That commenter is a jealous fool. She is obviously consumed with self loathing and feels she has to take it out on others. Your belly pics look totally normal to me-and quite good for a mother of two! Women should be sharing what their bodies are like. We need to get a positive image out there instead of the unrealistic and essentially unattainable ones that the media provides us with. Thanks for sharing, I will be checking back in!

  16. JustLinda

    I’m much larger than you, Y, and I’ve had 5 kids, including 1 by c-section. I ain’t in the shape I used to be. LOL But I know in my heart that my husband finds me beautiful and desirable. I know that. Oh, I feel better if it’s in the candlelight instead of under the harsh bulbs, but I can close my eyes and know that he’s genuine and sincere. Or open my eyes and see it reflected in his.
    Don’t worry about that shitty comment… some people feel ugly inside and so they lash out at others. I think you look mah-velous and it was brave of you to put yourself out there (you’re good at that) in an effort to connect to others. You inspire.
    I remember how freeing it was to finally stop hiding my number, what the scale read. I’ll never hide it again. I am who I am and I am WORTHY of love and respect. And yes, even good sex. Stretchmarks and all. LOL

  17. tonya cinnamon

    Y you know no matter how women look or how they act or how much money they have . EVERY woman will have some thing that they hate about them.. my stomach is a lot like yours and its hard not to depressed over the shape of my body and i am sooo envious of others. including you;).. but i wanted you to know… f#$$ what the other biotch said . if it wasnt for your stomach your kids would not be here not to mention the fact situps help out a lot.. i am finding out.. hugs to you girlfriend~

  18. Sarah

    Y, first of all, no one has the right to be so mean as to make a comment like that. Even in this oh so public blogging world. Your kids are beautiful, your family is beautiful, you are beautiful. You must, believe that! Secondly, thank you so much for that site. We are not so alone.

  19. stephanie

    Congrats on the weight loss!
    Also, at least you have three very good reasons for your stretch marks. All of my hideous stretch marks are the result of insanely fluctuating weight since the second I hit puberty. (Yes, I was a 13 year old with stretch marks… when I hit puberty, I hit it hardcore.)

  20. Emily G.

    What a beautiful site. I haven’t had kids yet, but I think that those tummies have done things that board-flat model tummies could never do.
    Your husband was right. Society should count stretch marks as badges of pride, courage, love, and self-sacrifice. It’s about damn time we got over worshipping skinny little girls who haven’t done a thing in life worth worshipping.
    I hope someday you will be able to think about your marks the way your husband does. You are beautiful.

  21. kimberlee

    If I could find that person and make them choke on that “hideous” comment, I would. I hope some plague will be brought upon them – or at least a really bad case of the stomach flu.
    I’m 40 and I’m still learning to live with what I’ve become in my body. There are days I love it and days I loathe it. You just keep listening to your husband – he sounds like a wise man.

  22. Nila

    The truth is, if we all took pictures of our bellies and had the balls to post them like you did, you’d find that you’re soooo not alone.
    Maybe I’ll send you a picture of mine just to prove my point. Which I’m sure you don’t want to see. Blechh!

  23. Elyse

    Even if you haven’t had children, a stomache is a woman’s biggest shame…I cry when I look at myself naked because I feel that even though there are worse, my stomache is just plain fat.

  24. Mega Mom

    Yours was one of the first blogs I came across. I thought you were hilarious and courageous and I loved your spirit. I wish the mean spirited people would just go shoot themselves. There are amazing men and women in this community and I just try to focus on them. Thanks for pointing them out. Still can’t wait to stalk you at BlogHer you beautiful woman :))

  25. Mother

    That site is the bomb. It’s like interweb back pats to moms everywhere.
    And the finger to all those hollywood biotches who make us feel like sh*t.

  26. Kristin

    Yvonne, you are beautiful. :) And brave and hilarous, and you helped me today, quite a lot. My belly looks pretty much exactly like yours and I feel great about it, because I saw you and thought, hey! She looks pretty good.
    I think you should delete what the asshole said and try to forget it. If you leave it there you will always be reminded and that person’s fuckwittery is not worth our time.
    Kristin

  27. Antique Mommy

    Well, I had my baby at 44, so I was already heading downhill. No my tummy is not pretty anymore, but the good thing about being my age is I don’t care. I’m not wearing belly tops anymore. I figure tummys like mine are why they make light switches!

  28. Amanda.

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter.
    First of all, you’re beautiful.
    Second of all, your family is beautiful.
    Third of all, you and your family are beautiful.
    The shape of a mother is awesome, isn’t it?
    Thanks for your blog. It always makes my day.

  29. Jennifer

    This is the first time I have been to your blog, and frankly I am not even sure how I found it, but SOO glad I did!
    Your posts have made me laugh all day, and I have found inspiration in your posts! Your a very strong lady! Keep up the good work!
    (((HUGS))) you ARE a beautiful woman! (inside AND out!)

  30. goodthingscomin

    Thank you so much for posting those links. Like you, I seriously felt like a freak with my post-pregnant belly. My boy is now 4 years old.
    I have huge areolas and stretch marks all over my belly, hips, thighs, pubic region, calves and breasts. You’re right, SEEING others with these same attributes is so very validating. I’ve heard others say it before, but seeing is all the difference.
    WE are not alone.

  31. sfhulagirl

    I hate that it only takes ONE person to negate the 99 others who compliment you. I’m the same way!
    I actually feel sorry for that negative person. I mean, you have to have really low self esteem, be very bored or just brought up by terrible people to want to be that mean.
    You are lovely and entertaining. Forget those that try to keep you down … you’ve got all these people cheering you on!

  32. Fiona

    i’m 47 and have never had kids but i have had a yo-yo relationship with my weight and a pretty damaging relationship with food.
    i am covered in stretch marks (arms, belly, thighs, buttocks, hips, breasts and yes, even on the lovely mons veneris)….and this body is slowly sinking to my feet!!!
    you look gorgeous Y….and with 3 beautiful wonderful children, that beauty is reflected back to you beyond stretch marks and sagging.
    Hugs

  33. Maria

    I have not posted before, but I read your blog daily and absolutely love your writing. I have to tell you this really personal story so that you may fully appreciate how lucky you are. My mother has the stretch marks that you have except hers are about 5cm wide. They are really really bad, very dark purple. I dont know my mom any other way. Growing up she always had these stretch marks. My body is like hers and prone to stretch marks, in fact I joke that you could play chess on my ass with stretch marks going both ways! I knew that my tummy would look like that when I became a mother. I found out about 10 years ago that I cannot have children. To me it feels like my body at 35 has not become a woman. I will never have the scars of motherhood and never look like my mom. (Besides the fact that I cannot have my own child)I am proud of what my Mom’s (who I still call Mommy thank you very much) stomach looks like. Yvonne you are a woman. With children. Three lovely children. You have been blessed thrice. Be proud of you have achieved with that body. Some of us will never be able to do what you have done and to have your joy (unexpected and expected:). I have horrible stretch marks all over my body- but not where it counts. Also something for the road-there are so many woman out there with perfect tummys and absolute no personality or sex appeal. You have both in abundance.

  34. Anon4now

    Y…..You are beautiful, girl!
    Now enough about your body!
    Love yourself, love your body.

  35. sunShine

    That was just beautiful. Thank you for the website, too. Even though I have lost 30 lbs in addition to my pregnancy weight, my stomach is still all stretched out and my c/s scar is awful and my stretch marks are hideous. I think you are beautiful and thank you for doing something that so many mothers do not have the courage to do. I think your hubby does love your body, don’t let negative talking people get you down!

  36. E :)

    I know there’s nothing I can say about your body to make you feel better about it (even though you are a really beautiful woman inside and out) but just remember… As bad as you feel/think you are, there are always people much worse off than you and you are not alone.
    Your kids are gorgeous – just like their Ma! Every time you look into their eyes, look at yourself.
    And if all that fails, have you tried rubbing olive oil on your belly? My ma had 5 kids (including twins) and swears by it to treat stretch marks.

  37. thewife

    My stomach is *ruined* as well, and my husband strokes the skin and says he thinks I’m beautiful, and I have to fight so hard to believe his words.
    Thank you for posting this.

  38. Julie

    We have to try and figure out a way to help you totally ignore the negative comments. They arent helpful, or are they meant to be.

  39. Stacy

    Be glad you have a husband who loves you the way you are. Many of us do not. Mine preferred the perfect barbie porno bodies he saw on the internet and let me know that every chance he got.
    One of the biggest things I stressed to my son when he got older and discovered online porn is that real women do NOT look like that. And my son is now in love with a beautifully curvy girl, not the emaciated popsicle sticks with bowling balls slapped on their chest that my ex says was beautiful and he had to fantasize about just to even tolerate looking at me.
    I hate men like my ex, men who defaced the Dove “Real Beauty” campaign billboards because the models weren’t beautiful enough or thin enough for their standards, men with beer guts and bald heads who dare to criticize us for having a 10 inch difference between our waists and our hips, men who design clothing for size 10 and smaller only, the man who wrote that horrible comment on your blog. All of them.

  40. RSM

    No matter how many times my husband tells me how beautiful he thinks I am, it never changes how unhappy I am with myself. Nothing anyone says can ever make it better – funny, though, how the bad things people say can make it worse.
    But knowing that I’m not the only person that is unhappy with the way I look after carrying my children (because of those who frown upon us for not being “proud” of our bodies that carried our children), makes me feel so much better. As does that site. I have stretch marks, too. It is not the acceptable form of beautiful in society – but I see them on you and I feel better about my own. Because I think you are beautiful and brave. And I wouldn’t just say that – if I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t comment at all. And if that’s true about you, then maybe, just maybe it can be true about me, too.

  41. Jenn

    Beautiful, is the only thing I can say! Your posts are great, your mind set is great, and your a BEAUTIFUL momma with a beautiful family!!!
    Your kids (and hubby) are VERY lucky to have you!

  42. Izzy

    I am so very hard on myself but when I see another woman’s post-baby body, I always think how they used that body to create life and how awesome that is. I just wish I could feel that way about my own. We are our own worst critics and a society that worships a distorted and wholly abnormal version of womanly “perfection” doesn’t help one bit.
    But the revolution starts here and on every mother’s blog and in every mirror. We must change our own definitions of beauty and then from their maybe we can shape society’s definition, as well.
    You are beautiful, your life-giving body is beautiful and your post is beautiful.
    {{hugs}}

  43. badgermama

    If women would all be able to see each other’s REAL bodies naked then we would see that we’re normal. Fuck the airbrushed crap in the magazines. We have to be able to look at each other with love and acceptance, and then accept ourselves. The process of normal aging is not a shame, or disgusting, or unbeautiful… I’m not saying be ashamed of the shame. I’m saying it’s hard work and it’s revolutionary to try to work past the shame/disgust. It’s so hard! But it’s so important!
    Another link for you: Naked Jen‘s blog. I think you might like her radiant confidence and her awesome blog.

  44. Belinda

    Can I add one more comment, one more thought, to the amazing ones already here?
    It hurts me when I see you speak of “hating” your body–when your body is healthy, strong, and has created, birthed, and nourished your amazing children.
    There have been lots of times when I have felt “hatred” for my body, too…because it has “betrayed” me, with sneaky diseases and tumors, and by taking, and keeping from me, the second and third (and maybe more?) children I’ve so desired. When I would have had it nurturing a pregnancy, it chose to nurture disease instead. It seriously pisses me off, my body does.
    So now I’m crying while I write this: LOVE your body. Not only is it beautiful (and I mean that–I’ve been looking at these posts and through the archives over the last weeks, and you are beautiful), but it is GOOD. It has treated you well, and done right by you. It’s given you as good as you’ve given it, and more.
    I’m on my own journey, hoping to one day love MY body. Thank you for the thoughtful posts.

  45. Belinda

    Oh, and I meant to point out: That note you have in your sidebar, written by one of your children? Have you ever noticed which word was used to describe you FIRST, before all others? Yeah. “Beautiful.”
    That’s all.

  46. MissPrism

    I followed a link here from Philobiblon and I just wanted to say what an inspirational post this is. The beauty industry wants us all to loathe our bodies and it’s so hard not to absorb those messages. You look great.

  47. Maris

    The person who left you that hateful comment has no concept of what beauty and love are.
    I’m so sorry you had to read something so stupid and ugly.
    Isn’t it amazing, how we women can receive 100 compliments, yet we’ll focus on the one hateful thing someone will choose to say?

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