Florida photographer Natalie McCain launches The Honest Body Project to inspire moms to be proud of their post-baby body and set a good example for their children.
While it seems celeb moms can snap back from having a baby quicker than they actually had the baby, for most of us, getting our body back post-birth may not be quite as easy. And if we're being real, it's not as important as ya know, raising (and falling so in love with) our new little one. Even so, when you have a break from feedings, running to soccer practice and attempting to manage a job and a marriage, your mirror might not always reflect what you want to see.
Viera, Fla.-based photographer, Natalie McCain wants to empower women to value their post-baby bodies and share their stories of self-love. Figuring out what your life and your figure is like after having a baby is all part of the awesome journey that is becoming a mother, and, through her photo series The Honest Body Project, McCain encourages mamas to be proud of their scars and yes, even those extra pounds, on a body that gave life. As you'll see from her images of real-moms bearing all below, she endeavors to tell the true story behind motherhood—it ain't always pretty by society's standards, but it is always beautiful.
McCain's inspiration to start The Honest Body Project came from a conversation she had with a young person who was struggling with body image and depression. "It opened my eyes to a serious growing issue with young girls today," McCain told Fit Pregnancy. "They are struggling now more than ever before. Social media has caused the issue to spin out of control... It is absolutely heart-breaking and something that needs to change." Her goal is to help mothers everywhere show their daughters (and sons) that perfection should never be a goal—but rather self-acceptance.
"Stop calling yourself fat; stop shying away from being in photos; stop body shaming," she says. "Learn to love your body, and in turn, set a good example and start conversations with your children about how women really look."
Your babe may be too young to understand the importance of a healthy body image, but you can start right now to make your children more confident. How? By falling back in love with that incredible body of yours. Let these photos inspire you.
"Becoming a mommy has changed me in so many ways. My priorities have definitely changed. Before Lennon came into my life I always said I could NEVER be a stay at home mom... And then she was born. After that (and A LOT of tearful conversations with my very supportive husband) we made the decision that I would get to stay home. Funny how you can be so hell-bent on a decision one minute, and throw that decision out the door the moment your child enters into your life. I am fortunate enough that my husband's job allows me this opportunity, and I wouldn't change a second of the time I get to spend with my baby girl."
"I am beautiful and I know this because it is what I tell myself. Sometimes I will stand in front of the mirror and tell myself I am beautiful. Why? Because I am. My body is beautiful. My body is a sacred space, where three beautiful babies have grown. And hopefully a couple more. My husband makes me feel so beautiful, my kids make me feel beautiful. And I am beautiful, even on my worst days."
"I regret being so self conscious about my body for most of my life. Even to this day I will find myself in the shower, pulling and poking at my imperfections. I decided to be a part of this project in hopes that I could learn to accept my body for what it is and learn to love myself."
"Growing up I always struggled with confidence. For those that know me well, it may come as a surprise as I was able to mask a lot of my insecurities through humor, I still do this. To be honest, I don't love my body. I want to be in better shape. I want to feel better. I want to be more comfortable in my skin. It's a struggle everyday, and while I may not love how my body looks now, I do love what my body is capable of."
"When I started breastfeeding my first, I was just trying to feed her. I didn't know at the time that nursing would be the center point from which my mothering would grow. I didn't envision how it would grow me like it grew my children."
"I always thought a VBAC would be a no-brainer for my second child, should I be lucky enough to have one. Now that we have approached this decision, I feel empowered by the knowledge I've gained both through research and my previous birth experience. I am confident in my choice to do a repeat C-section. This time around however, I am adding some special touches to the day that will allow me to feel more of the joy and miracle of the birthing process."
"I used to be embarrassed to say I used formula. I would go out of my way to avoid mixing a bottle in public because I was afraid I would be looked down on. Then I came to my senses. Why should I be embarrassed? I'm feeding and nourishing my child and he's happy and healthy. That's all that matters."
"As we all know, things never go as planned. We spend so much of our young lives trying not to get pregnant only to wish for that very same thing once you are ready. Year after year past, more and more friends and family members announced their pregnancies. I put on my happy face as I hugged and congratulated them, all while my heart felt like it was being torn to shreds. Everyone kept saying 'once you stop trying is when you'll get pregnant.' But how could I ever stop trying? It's all I've ever wanted. Even when I would announce that we weren't trying, still in the back of my head, it was all I could think about."
Natalie McCain, Photographer
"I started this project for so many reasons. She is one of them. I want my daughter to know that she is more than what size her pants are. I want her to stand up to bullies, to anyone who may talk about the way she looks, or the way her friends look. I want her to love herself. I want to show her that I am comfortable in my own skin and that she should be, too."