How Motherhood Changed One Woman's Body Image

It's no secret that having a baby can change your body, but what about the way that you perceive it? An Instagram post has gone viral after a woman showed how motherhood changed her body image by sharing side-by-side photos of herself taken 10 years apart. At 23, Lindsay Wolf considered herself "chubby." It's a subjective term, of course, but looking at the photo, I doubt anyone would agree. A decade later, and 19 months postpartum, her body has changed, and so has her self-esteem.

In the caption, Wolf described her younger self: "She was self-conscious, critical of her physical shape, and always either on a diet or rebelling from one. She only saw flaws in the mirror." Although she regarded her body as "not good enough," she also "worried about what would happen if she physically became anything other than what she was." Now 50 pounds heavier, she's "learning to love her body without pressuring it to be anything other than what it is" and "healing a lifelong struggle of never fully seeing herself for the extraordinary human being she is." In an essay for Babble, Wolf wrote that she's "excited to learn who I am when I’m not tearing down myself with criticism and judgment."

Wolf shared her photos as part of the "Transformation Tuesday" Instagram trend, which is most often used to celebrate weight loss. "All of this is done in the name of progress," Wolf wrote, "with the 'after' photo implying that the person is much happier with themselves now that they have lost a bunch of weight." Wolf's heavier "after" picture shows that her happiness isn't tied to her weight, and that's the point. There's nothing wrong with a person taking an interest in their physical appearance, of course, but one's weight should never be equated with their worth.

Wolf wrote that she first started exploring the "body positive" movement because she was looking for solidarity from "women who have birthed a baby and have the evidence written all over their bodies." She began to uncover Instagram posts of other mothers displaying their postpartum bodies with pride, giving her hope that she, too, could learn to love her own body. "The woman I see today in the mirror is most definitely not a version of me I’m used to" she wrote. "She has expanded, she has softened, and she has strengthened." Now, "I get to make friends with the miracle that is my body for the very first time."