Laura Mazza’s first reaction when she saw her husband had taken a swimsuit photo of her from the back was annoyance, fueled by insecurity.
I saw this photo in my husbands phone, and I said, “Why the hell would you take a photo of me at that angle?”
Mazza acknowledged that the photo made her feel, “self conscious.” As she pondered why that was, a series of memories came back to her. They were memories of unsolicited advice about how to look better, the implication being that her appearance didn’t measure up:
It reminded me when I took a photo of me and my newborn son and someone asked me if I wanted to try a scrub that got rid of acne scars and a cream that rid me of dark lines under the eyes — I had been in labor for 14 hours. But it made me feel bad about myself, even though I was feeling euphoric.
And that wasn’t the only example. There was the friend that sent her to the plus-size section so she could find a suit with, “better tummy control.” There was the time a request for exercises that help with muscle separation resulted in her being, “bombarded with sales for stomach wraps.”
I saw this photo in my husbands phone, and I said “why the hell would you take a photo of me at that angle?”I became…
Not to mention the time Mazza, “had a girl tell me quietly that my dress would look better if I had some Spanx on — I had a cesarean three months prior to that. I loved the way I looked in that dress.”
As Mazza noted, all of these comments came from women:
I don’t blame them. I’m not angry. This is what society has taught them, this is what cultural pressures have led them to believe and so much so, that they feel it’s okay to say it to their fellow sisters as if it’s helping us.
That pressure can be significant. Mazza notes that women who don’t bounce back to their pre-pregnancy bodies after birth are thought of as lazy or, “not trying hard enough.” She wrote:
You have to justify yourself to everyone of why your body has changed so much … but the reality is, it’s because you had a fucking baby. Why is that so shameful?
As Mazza pointed out, “I have cellulite. So does most of the population.” And women who have children sometimes have bodies that reflect that fact.
The question for Mazza is why women don’t value themselves and each other as they deserve to be valued. She wrote, “Imagine if we just spent time appreciating all that we can do, the amazing life creating vessels that we are, instead of trying to scrub, wrap, and hide all that we have done?”
She added, “Body confidence starts within, but our surroundings are responsible for it too.”
And that brings it back to the photo of Mazza in her swimsuit. While she saw an image that made her self-conscious, that’s not what her husband saw. His explanation for why he took the photo put everything into perspective:
“So my husbands response? ‘You looked so happy!’ … That’s all he saw, not my cellulite, not my imperfections. He saw a happy wife enjoying a moment, and he was right. I was happy. I am happy, That’s all that matters.”