The Shape of a Mother

26 Jan

In the fall, I wrote about my friend Jessica’s ongoing photography project called The Mother’s Look.

Jessica has set up a beautiful safe space in her basement where women can come pose for intimate yet fun portraits and show the reality of what bodies look like after being touched by motherhood.

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The portraits can include children or be solo and can also include meaningful props. All women touched by motherhood are welcome to participate whether or not they have living children and whether or not they have birthed biologically.

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When I read about her project, I wanted to participate. I wasn’t quite sure why because I’ve never been a person to show off a lot of skin. Even when I was 90 pounds in high school, my swim suit of choice was a tshirt and shorts.

Perhaps it was because my mom told me horror stories from her university days of wearing bikinis and tube tops and then suffering later with atrocious sunburns (I inherited her sensitive skin as well as her dislike for hot temperatures). Perhaps it was because we didn’t have a lot of money and most of my clothes were hand-me-downs and there were never any appropriate bathing suits amongst the cast-offs. Perhaps it was because I always felt weird in my own skin. I also hated swimming (because I was bad at it) so why would I want to wear swim clothes?

Or maybe it was a combination. Regardless, I’ve never felt comfortable showing skin. But as I get older, I find myself not caring as much. Like, my brain is so full of family and household worries that I just have less energy to give to my body insecurities. I still care, but not nearly as much as I used to.

So I wanted to participate in Jessica’s project as a way of stepping out of my comfort zone.

My boys and I posed for Jessica towards the end of October and it was really fun. After the photos with the boys were done, Jason took them upstairs to distract them with Lego. Then I did some solo shots.

I think Jessica was hoping to have the pictures edited before Christmas but life got in the way. It was last week when I finally got a peek at one of the photos. I hope to see some more in he next little while, but I understand that Jessica is a busy mom with a full time job (and a part time photography business)!

So here is an un-retouched photo that Jessica named as one of her favourites!

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My first thought upon finally seeing it was, “Holy crap I’m pale!” Also, “Man, I really need more tattoos, my skin is just way too blank!”

For the most part though, I like it. In this picture, I’m 40 pounds heavier than my high school days and I was feeling self conscious about the fact that I had very recently gotten a positive pregnancy test and my stomach popped out overnight.

It was also the first day that I started feeling truly horrible with pregnancy symptoms. I held it together pretty well and Jessica does a great job making her models laugh and feel at ease.

Maybe I wouldn’t feel so positive about this picture if my stretch-marked and pale baby belly was on display. Or maybe it would make me feel proud because of all the hard time I’ve done, throwing up in the name of motherhood.

In the end, I’m very glad I could participate. I truly believe people need to be aware that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Stretch marks and saggy skin and changing shapes are often part of a woman’s body, whether she is a mother or not. Projects such as Jessica’s help combat society’s saturation of airbrushed perfection.

Thank you to my amazing husband who tells me I’m beautiful every day. We are both real people with real flaws and imperfections and I like it that way. When we got together, we signed up for reality, not fantasy and it’s been a grand adventure!

And thank you Jessica, for this terrific and important project!

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If you’d like to participate in The Mother’s Look, please email Jessica (jessica.l.wyatt@gmail.com) for more information and she can tell you about future sessions.
Visit Jessica on Facebook or her personal website.

12 Responses to “The Shape of a Mother”

  1. Lisa February 10, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

    Wow! I can’t believe I’m just seeing this post now. I love the all the portraits you posted on this entry, they all say something unique about the women in them. Your portrait looks AMAZING! I love it, it’s so YOU 🙂 Plus, I don’t get to see your tatt’s very often so its kinda fun to have a picture with your shirt off so I can take a closure look without being a weirdo, good ole internet, letting me be a creep…

    • L.W. February 10, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

      Thanks Lisa! But let me tell you, if you wanted to see the tattoo on my back, I would have no problem listing up my shirt for you!!

  2. Karen January 28, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

    This is fabulous!!!!! What a great and VERY important project! And you my dear look GORGEOUS!!!!

    • L.W. January 30, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

      I agree, very important!! And thank you!!!

  3. annie January 27, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    This: “But as I get older, I find myself not caring as much. Like, my brain is so full of family and household worries that I just have less energy to give to my body insecurities. I still care, but not nearly as much as I used to.”
    So true for how I feel.
    The Mother’s Look is an amazing (and VERY needed) project. I’m thankful Jessica has stepped up to help us all realize we are beautiful, wrinkles, stretch marks and all.

    • L.W. January 27, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

      Definitely one of the perks about getting older, eh?!
      Thanks for the positive feedback!

  4. Chrissie January 27, 2015 at 9:33 am #

    Beautiful!!!!!!

    • L.W. January 27, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

      Thanks Chrissie!!

  5. Stephanie January 26, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

    You look beautiful! And I love how your personality shines through! Jessica did a great job!

    • L.W. January 27, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

      Thanks Steph!

  6. Katie Hughdie January 26, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

    Amazingly written Leah. Kudos to Jess for making the models feel comfortable (I sure did) and for this incredible project!

    • L.W. January 27, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

      Thanks Katie! I wish mine and Jessica’s other photo shoots had worked out because it was so fun!

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