25 May 2017

How I Got My Incredible Post Baby Body

Almost six months ago, I had a baby. A little girl called Luna. Her embryonic existence went undetected throughout the first five months of pregnancy, largely because I'd been hearing all about my sterility for over a decade beforehand. My Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome was deemed so severe (in terms of the amount of cysts) from the age of 14 and onwards that no medical professional believed I'd ever have a kid. I'm also fat — something I was told wasn't especially conducive to getting knocked up.

More than the supposed fertility issues, I just didn't have any signs or symptoms of pregnancy throughout those 20 weeks. Not getting a period is my baseline of normality. I didn't experience morning sickness or unparalleled exhaustion, and I wasn't having any bizarre culinary cravings. As for my body, it just didn't change much: No weight gain, no new stretch marks, no extra plump bosom. 

The latter four months of pregnancy were an entirely different story, though. It's almost like my body was holding off on exhibiting outward changes until my mind caught up to everything going on inside it. Shortly after finding out, the weight started accumulating quickly. And with it, dozens of new stretch marks decorating my stomach, sides, thighs, arms, and breasts. More cellulite appeared on my backside and even the infamous linea negra popped up, too.
By the time my daughter was born, I'd gained at least 50 pounds. My tummy has since softened and is jigglier than ever before, while simultaneously appearing more rounded — not entirely unlike my father's beer belly. My love handles protrude further out than they once did — and five months into new motherhood, my stretch marks remain bright red and fresh. My ass is wider, and my spacial awareness hasn't quite caught up to its breadth. My belly button is deep; expanded. My thighs are like heaps of mini marshmallows squashed together.  

I've often looked at my body these last 24 weeks or so in utmost awareness of how much I'm supposed to hate it. And I won't lie... sometimes I've struggled to access self-love as profoundly as I did before having a kid but after finding the magical universe of fat liberationists and their work. I've wondered if I'd be happier in a body less marked in tiger stripes. I've ever-so-briefly questioned whether I should brainstorm some kind of fitness goals centered around "toning." That's what I'm supposed to do, right?
Despite what some folks may believe, I don't buy the idea that the alleged "body positivity revolution" has been fully realized yet. There are plenty of bodies still made to feel invisible or worthless in all manner of harmful ways (from the lack of inclusivity in magazines to the denial of healthcare based on BMI alone). Among the bodies we don't see represented often are post-baby bodies: Relatable ones that haven't "miraculously" shed all the weight, or zapped away their stretchies, or gotten boob lifts, or walked out of the hospital after days of labor looking exactly as they did months before they were even pregnant.

Unsurprisingly, it's even more rare to see relatable post-baby bodies that are also fat in the mainstream. 

So for these reasons and more, I've asked myself whether the incredible post-baby body I should be seeking is the pre-pregnancy body. A body entirely unmarked by the immense changes it's gone through — a body that would never imply one has grown a whole other human being inside it.

These moments never last long, though. It only takes looking at my daughter — a pretty worthwhile reason for accumulating some stretch marks and heightened wobbliness — to remember that I already have an incredible post-baby body. This body is incredible because it grew a human who is now my best friend inside it — despite the fatphobic misdiagnoses assigned to it. It endured over 50 hours of labor and the kind of agony you don't want to be totally honest about for fear that no one else will ever have children again. This body is incredible because it's mine. It allows me to live and try endlessly at finding some kind of balance between "mom" and "person" and "woman" and "26-year-old." There is no fat post-baby body that is not brilliant, worthy, powerful, or incredible, because there is no body (period) that is not brilliant, worthy, powerful, or incredible.
My body changed, just like it was always supposed to. You can't carry a tiny creature inside yourself for that long without expecting change. You can't get said creature out of your bod without expecting even more change. Any shaming surrounding the physical shifts that occur when one goes through labor and pregnancy is no different to any other breed of body shaming. It's rooted in arbitrary standards of beauty. It's subsequently rooted in nothing.

So here you see me. The new me. The just-as-fire-me. I'm wearing a lingerie set that I designed on Impish Lee, a brand specializing in customizable intimates. Kali — who founded the company with her sister — reached out to me many, many months ago to see if I wanted to try my hand at the process and I was all for it. But it's taken me a little time to take and post photos — because it's taken me a little time to feel as solid in myself as I used to.

I chose to design pieces featuring blue velvet to feel luxurious, gold spandex to feel like an unapologetic queen, and floral mesh to channel my love of vintage aesthetics. An unwired bralette was my top of choice because comfort is of utmost priority to me these days. In addition, there's no truth to any BS "rules" that suggest you cannot wear bralettes if you're also big-boobed. You can wear what makes you happy (end of sentence). I also opted for lower-waist briefs in hopes of spending more time getting to know my new stomach. 

In the aid of full disclosure, Kali & Impish Lee were kind enough to gift me this set. The company's current range goes up to a U.S. 24 in bottoms and a 40J in cup size. I normally wear a 44 or 46 cup so the bralette was definitely a squeeze, but still comfy due to stretch. The undies were a size 24, and fit my 55-inch hips very well. I hope to see the size range expand in the future for accessibility to all plus size bodies. The design process was definitely cathartic in a time when I needed that. 

Again, I'd be fibbing if I said that posing in intimates wasn't challenging at first. Not because I'm any more exposed than I have been in the past via swimsuits or knicker/bra sets, but because there is simply more of me. There is more of me that is supposedly "imperfect." More of me that's been touched by growth, change, and tiredness. Things far too often connoted with negativity when, really, they're just part of living.
But then I thought that maybe that's why sharing them felt like something I should do. As so many of us know, there isn't nearly enough representation of visibly fat post-baby bodies out there. As with any marginalized, neglected group, however, this says nothing about the bodies themselves and everything about the toxic cultures we live in. Sometimes those things can get muddled up in our brains, though. We blame ourselves for the problems that culture and media and faulty education create. 

The simple truth is that your fat post-baby body is a goddamn treasure. All the stretch marks — whether bright red or faded or somewhere in between — all the flabby skin, or the skin tags, or the drier hair texture, or the immense love handles, are goddamn treasures. Try to treat them as such.


  1. Congrats on the baby! The Longest Shortest Time recently put out a podcast episode about a woman who didn't know she was pregnant until 6 months in. I can see why some people wouldn't know, especially when symptoms are mild.

    Pregnancy is a confusing thing for a person. So many changes so quickly. Even after the baby is delivered the body still changes- especially when breastfeeding. I hear a lot of Mom say they learn to love their belly (big or small) because it reminds them of their baby and the amazing things their body can do.

  2. Loved reading this article, Marie! You look radiant and powerful in your new bod! Just FYI and so your readers know, Impish Lee does provide custom sizing at no additional charge! Just ask us or write a note on your order <3 Stay gorgeous! -Kali and the Impish Lee team

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