Monday, October 08, 2007

Another perspective on "Mommy Jobs"

The newest thing in plastic surgery--Mommy Makeovers or Mom Jobs--has incited a lot of controversy. Breast and Belly has an interesting discussion going. Here's another perspective on attitudes towards mothers' bodies, from Ruth C. White, a professor at Seattle University (reposted with permission):

What they need is European friends... So here's my story....

I go to Barbados for a conference/vacation. I am wearing a black one piece I had worn for years because although I was a size 8/10 I felt my stretch marks and pooch were not worthy of exposing to the world. (Being a twentysomething hottie did not prepare me for poochy thirtysomething).

So I meet two young (not yet 30) Germans: one a charming, handsome, multilingual (5) stock broker (Paris) and one 6'3" walking Adonis of an investment banker (Frankfurt).

We meet sitting on the beach one day. They ask me why I wore the swimsuit I did instead of a bikini like the girl walking by. I explained about stretch marks.

The investment banker says: "But you had a baby." And I'm thinking "DUH!" Well, I liked him straight off and when he later told me that my poochy, stretchmarked stomach was his favorite part of my body, I just about wrapped him in brown paper and took him home.

But home I went alone and threw out the one piece and went and got me a low cut bikini from old navy. And I work it. With no shame to my game at all.

Now why did it take some hot young European stud to give me the gumption to parade my slightly poochy but very stretchmarked body on beaches from San Pedro to Montego Bay, Brisbane and beyond? In the meantime, poochy men were hanging over their speedos everywhere I went.

But now, I've got that same poochy bod on my facebook page wearing my bikini on my deck on Queen Anne (Seattle) hill as the first pic in my "my 40 year old life" photo album.

There is nothing pathological about stretch marks or varicose veins or tummy pooch. Like my girlfriend says, "it's how you work it!" If you have confidence in self, guys (although it seems most women are worried about other women's POV and that's the sad part) won't notice, just like how they don't notice a boob job. ("How can you tell?" whatever! LOL.) All they see is big boobs or great personality. With stretch marks all they'll see is big boobs or great personality LOL. And here's the kicker question: so what if they see stretch marks? Are they going to have testicle lift surgery anytime soon? Bet not! Why? We don't care. And guess what, they don't care about our stretch marks either.

But seriously, I think the construction of a non-existent ideal is based on us covering up all the time and having this puritan background which makes us ashamed of our bodies to start with. My European friends are used to seeing women's bodies in all shapes, sizes, forms and ages with no one "ashamed" to be seen. That creates a different environment.

I think we also need to accept aging for what it is. My story....
My 82 year old neighbor will come to her door while wearing her yoga bodysuit. She ice skates in a little frilly outfit once a week. And she's got wrinkles that reflect all the living she's done. And she's graceful and athletic and fit and fun and smart and everyone loves her.

Now that's beauty!!!


  1. What a great repost! It's true: in Europe, nobody really cares what your body looks like.

    I went to an amusement park recently and a woman was walking around in a bikini top and shorts, with glaring red stretch marks bared for all to see. I thought it was very brave of her.

  2. Awesome post. I think that we really need to stop feeding into this invisible ideal of what we should look like.

  3. Love it. Thats good stuff.

  4. I agree that every body is beautiful, even if we are different sizes. I have friends who think that because they are fit and exercise, they should be a size 2! We are not meant to all be the same size, same dimensions, or have the perfect body. Nothing is wrong with curves (which I have, and I happen to love).

    I also noticed last summer while vacationing with 30+ single friends, that even non-moms have stretch marks. So you aren't the only ones. I'm a big fan of wearing that cute swimsuit, no matter if your legs aren't perfect or you've got booty. It is all about attitude.

    I think it is sad that women think they need to keep the perfect body. Men don't look the same after 20 years of being a dad, so why should women feel like they have to (medically) return to their 20 year-old selves?

  5. Yeah, I got stretch marks when I was in junior high on my hips. I didn't know what they were at first, and kept thinking that I must have scratched myself in my sleep! Ha ha.

    I have found that when I exercise, I don't care about my body image. Or in other words, I feel happy in my own skin. There's something about the feeling of power from working your body and (especially with my distance running) seeing muscles emerge and define themselves that takes away any fretting about my size or shape.

  6. Great post, Rixa. Our bodies are gifts, and we should treat them as such. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but it is the ideal I strive for.

  7. disclaimer: I didn't write it! I just passed it on.

  8. i got stretch marks in highschool on my inner thighs. I had a perfectly beautiful belly, no stretch marks all through pregnancy, then after he was born they showed up around my belly button. odd. very odd. i assume the same will happen this time around as well.

    i asked my husband *stupid me, as i'm carry a load of pregnancy induced emotions that can turn on you in a moment* "if you saw a chick in a bikini with great legs, breasts..whatever, but a ton of stretch marks and a poochy belly, would you notice the belly/stretch marks or just the boobs"

    his reply was that he'd notice the stretch marks and belly. i cried, then he got VERY confused and wondered what he said wrong... then it dawned on him "is this alluding to you in any form?? cause you asked if i'd notice.. i didn't say it would be bad."

    damn him for being literal.

  9. Great post, and in theory I agree wholeheartedly. I am harder on myself than I am on other women, and Ihave actually been moved to happy tears when I see a mom reach out or up to help her kids or get something off the high shelf and I get a glimpse of all those stretch marks. i love The Shape of A Mother website and it sounds like Europe has their heads on straight. But I still am not wearing a bikini--after one baby, sure-- but not after four. I feel like I am dissapointing or a sell out but it is true. In some cases, I cant put into practice what I want to support in my heart. Does this make any sense?

  10. Hey, I don't think you'll ever see me in a bikini. I love tankinis that go over my stomach--so much more practical than a one piece suit. I'm just not personally a fan of bikinis because unless you have a flawless body, they're not exactly flattering! But I love the European attitude about bodies and I thought this was a great post.


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