If you ever walked the magazine aisle at a grocery store or scrolled through “news” articles on the Internet, you’ve likely seen beautiful images of small women — of sculpted women, of flawless women, or of “perfect” women, but you rarely see curvy women or voluptuous women. You rarely see everyday women, or the average woman, because she has scars and stretch marks and she isn’t a size zero, and that is especially true in clothing ads and underwear ads. But one woman, tired of this unrealistic standard, is fighting back. A Texas mom recreated Kendall Jenner's Calvin Klein ad to make an important statement.
Brenda DeRouen, a Texas woman, blogger, and mother, was tired of feeling ashamed of her stretch marks and scars. She was tired of being embarrassed by her body, so DeRouen hired a photographer, took pictures in her underwear — photos which mimicked those Kendall Jenner took for Calvin Klein two months ago — and wrote an article on her site Oh Brenda! to show that women come in many shapes and sizes, and each one is beautiful.
Her images are important for women — and men — who feel the pressure to look like models in magazines. Her images are important for new parents who feel the pressure to "get back" their pre-baby bodies — an expectation that is just unrealistic.
As DeRouen explained on her blog, she has struggled with her body since the birth of her son:
I turned away when dressing in front of others, and wouldn’t chance doing the dirty with the lights on...[f]or years I dealt with not loving myself. I was self-conscious in relationships and I hated how my body looked.
But after eight years, DeRouen was ready to reclaim her body, love her body, and embrace her beauty:
My friend Jenai Harris made a statement about her journey with love and stated, 'If you can’t learn to love yourself, then how can you expect anyone else to?' I’d heard the statement before, but the context in which it was said made me really reflect. How was I going to start a blog and tell people to love themselves when I didn’t even love myself? I decided right then and there that I needed to go face to face with my insecurities. I decided to no longer feel self-conscious about my body.I would no longer allow society to define MY beauty. And I would fall in love with me, completely. And after years of hiding myself from myself I finally seen who I really was.
So DeRouen hired photographer Deun Ivory and stripped down to her bra and underwear to set herself free.
As Deun began to photograph me, I felt a sense of pride and liberation. This moment was bigger than any photoshoot I had ever done...[t]his moment was a defining moment to erase years of self-hatred and revel in self-acceptance. I removed society’s standards of beauty and stood tall in my truth. I have stretch marks...I’m no longer ashamed. My body has accomplished so much: the immense beauty of motherhood; the pleasures of maturity; and the undeniable journey of growth. There is no one, not even myself, that can ever make me feel badly about my skin.
(Yes, yes, and yes!)
DeRouen's beautiful words make it clear that bodies don't need to "bounce back" to anything.