It’s often said that current social media culture is an avenue for posting only the highlights of our lives for the online world to see. We are able to edit the messiness out of our photos, whitewashing them to share the good far more often than the bad. It’s easy to look at the lives of others and feel like they have attained perfection while we are left to stare at our own lives, complete with mundane tasks, less-than-perfect styling, and blemishes, both literal and figurative.
There are many out there, though, who are trying to combat this phenomenon. 22-year-old photographer Mikaela Shannon is the creator of the Love Your Postpartum Body project, and has photographed over 70 new mothers for the series (with dozens on a waiting list!). Her photos depict a very raw, realistic, and gorgeous view of women’s bodies post-birth, complete with stretch marks, loose skin, and even the mother’s reasons for breathing: their babies.
The Ontario-based photographer first took her idea to a local online mom’s group, and when the members ‘went nuts’ for the concept, it took off. Some moms seek out her sessions as a confidence booster, as an attempt to come to terms with the ways their bodies have changed. For others, it’s a more cathartic experience, Shannon explains. “Some of the moms posing have just had miscarriages and some of them have had stillbirths, and they feel like it’s kind of final closure.”
When everything in our image-obsessed culture tells us to cover up and hide our scars and the ways we’ve changed, it’s refreshing to behold someone who puts their talents towards showcasing the beauty of what a mother’s body has done. It far outshines any perceived damage, that’s for sure. Moms are strong, and our bodies bear evidence of that strength. Mikaela herself is not yet a mother, but I find it incredible that she’s made it her mission to empower others in a stage of life that can feel so vulnerable. That’s what I call standing beside one another in support!
Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.