Mothering and the Body

A pregnant body becomes a body subject to heightened public commentary.

When pregnant others told me what was signified by my size, small for four months for five and for six, then big, big enough at eight months to elicit comments—“should you be out?”—startling me, should i be in confinement… appropriate growth measured by midwives, old wives tales: girls steal your beauty, a high bump means…i forget. The body seemed obscene.

At nine months red scars across my abdomen, wide and deep. I gave birth, 41weeks+6days. Nine pounds two ounces baby. Boy.

Post-partum body cantankerous with ailments, i gave little thought to appearances. I barely thought of myself as visible.

My body, a sight. Seen from above.

The Bodies of Mothers by Jade Beall

 

I came upon Jade Beall’s photography through a body positivity blog. Each photograph reassuring of the miraculous naturalness, the particular ordinariness of the transformations a woman’s body generates. And learning of her kickstarter, contributed. In return i received a signed copy of her book, The Bodies of Mothers, on publication. A truly beautiful and uplifting collection of photographs of women postpartum  accompanied by heartfelt personal accounts of women’s experiences in their bodies as mothers.

When my child’s father insisted my body, already an object in his eyes, was a thing i needed to “get fixed”, i thought he was wrong; turning to the photographs so lovingly arrayed in this treasury of images, i could see nothing broken, nothing in need of fixing, nothing but beauty, compassion, and courage. Women whose bodies in their diversity share similarities with mine. In a bleak time i felt heartened by their faraway sisterhood. For this The Bodies of Mothers is a book i cherish and hold with great gratitude to Jade Beall and all the women who bravely, joyously collaborated with her in creating it.

 

You can find out more about Jade Beall’s photographic work documenting the stories of women’s experiences in becoming mothers at http://www.abeautifulbodyproject.org

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