Before the latest generation of body-positive photographers, models, and brave moms on social media decided to openly challenge what it means to be beautiful, I'd never seen a real postpartum body aside from my own mother's. I don't think I've ever seen a single stretch mark in a magazine ad and I've definitely never seen a roll of loose skin or a less-than-perky breast lovingly touched in a on-screen love or sex scene (as opposed to being the butt of a joke). If you're struggling to love your postpartum body you're not alone, and you're definitely not a bad mom because of it. After all, your postpartum body is probably the first real postpartum body you've ever seen.
As someone who doesn't want to pass on this particular struggle, I definitely do my best to always model body positivity for my kids. I don’t say negative things about myself in their presence and I try to focus on what makes me feel my best, not what makes me look a certain way, when discussing my body around them in general. Because I've tried to build a body-positive home, I don't own a scale, I don't diet, and I don't vocally obsess about my shape.
But while I feel much better about what I see in the mirror than I did in the days and weeks immediately after giving birth, I definitely still struggle to feel great about all the little "souvenirs" pregnancy left behind. After all, all of the body positive images and messages I've seen in the past three or so years are up against three decades of hearing and seeing the exact opposite, and being praised for looking quite different from how I do now (under my clothes, anyhow).
There are times when I internally start to beat myself up over caring how I look at all, because I know that there is so much more to who I am than what I look like, and I feel like someone with my feminist credentials should "know better." But then I remember that I'm not obligated to be perfect, which is what I would have to be in order to magically delete three decades of social conditioning from my mind and at my will. If you're feeling something similar, or worrying that you're somehow less of a mom because you're less than 100% thrilled with everything (physical or otherwise!) that's come of your choice to have a baby, know that you're in the very good company of plenty of other very good moms.