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How I Went From Loathing My Post Baby Body To Loving It

Love & Relationships

Three months after my first child, Brendan, was born, I weighed less than my pre-labor weight. I was like Woohoo!


What Kelly Ripa said is true, breastfeeding is the key!

Breastfeeding makes all of your baby weight go away!

The baby literally sucks all of the fat out of you!

It just makes sense. Mother nature you are the best!

While my body definitely wasn't shaped the same as it was pre-pregnancy, at least I had lost weight to the point that my friend Gloria was a little concerned because my face kept slimming down and my collar bones became more and more defined. I was satisfied with my weight loss and figured I would moisturize the hell out of my stretch marks, do some crunches and maybe just maybe, one day I would be able to wear a bikini again. So every morning I lathered my belly, but somewhere between working, taking care of an infant, getting dinner on the table and managing other family and social relationships, those crunches just never happened.

By the time I was ready to come out of my baby hibernation, rejoin the world, and start working out again…surprise, surprise…I became pregnant with my second love biscuit, Grayson. Almost everything with Grayson was easier. I was still seeing the therapist I had to start seeing after I gave birth to Brendan, so I knew what to expect. And this time around, my body healed much faster.

But there was just one problem – my stomach.

Every morning I'd stand in front of the mirror in my underwear, and sometimes I would make it a point to identify a positive aspect about my appearance. Although this was a routine I'd been doing since high school, when I was around 4 months postpartum, I started to realize that I wasn't slimming down like I had done after my first child. I now had an outie belly button, a pooch that made me look about 3 months pregnant, and a chandelier of excess skin hanging from that outie belly button. I thought,“maybe I just need more time to recover."

During this time, I remember every magazine cover at the grocery store being about celebrity moms' rapid weight loss after having children, and I started to feel like there was something wrong with me. That I was doing something wrong. I should be eating healthier. I should be working out.

Two more months passed and there was no change in my body. And I began to realize that I had lost all the baby weight I was going to lose. I found myself sucking in my stomach and smoothing out my skin in the mirror every morning. My husband and I would try to figure out how I could fit in a run or a workout, but between being a teacher (which means I also have homework), my daily commute, and really wanting to spend quality time with my children, we just couldn't figure out how to fit it in. I tried some workout videos OnDemand and did crunches sporadically, but ultimately I just became super frustrated with the constant cycle of feeling bad about my body, wanting to change it, and yet having no time or energy to do so. Trips to the grocery store only added fuel to my frustration.

I wanted to see a celebrity mom with a pooch, stretch marks, saggy boobs, anything! But all I got were smooth bellies, pushed up boobs, spanx, photoshop, and myths about how I too could look perfect like that.

My frustration soon evolved into anger. I was pissed that I allowed the media to make me feel bad about myself. I was furious that society had gotten to a place where women's bodies aren't honored for bringing life into this world, but are instead expected to “snapback" to their pre-baby figures.

What kind of backwards shit is that?

Are we rubber bands?!

As a black woman who grew up constantly having to refute Eurocentric ideals of beauty, I am aware that the lens which I view beauty through is counter to dominant American culture. Dominant American culture views my nephew as a potentially dangerous thug, and my afro as wild unkempt mane.

I view both as magnificently beautiful, and I needed to view my post-baby body in the same way. I needed an outlet, a sanctuary, somewhere I could receive affirmation that other mothers look just like me. Because while this whole time I was fixated on a physical change, what I truly needed was a change in my way of thinking.

Naturally, I started where everyone starts when you want to explore what is out there. I Googled “post-baby body," but a majority of the results were just multiple workout blogs. There was one blog that had pictures of natural, post-baby bodies, but the pictures were just of women's bodies without their heads. I found another blog that took pictures of women's post-baby bodies across the country, but they were predominately white women and the pictures were in black and white.

What I needed was a site and community for mothers of color who were on the same journey of owning their bodies and their beauty again. I wanted beautiful media that counteracted every sexist magazine cover with a celebrity “rubber band" mom on it. So you know what I did? I created that community.

With the support of my family and my best friends, last August I launched MyPostBabyBody.org!

The goal of MyPostBabyBody.org, is to help women feel good about their bodies especially after having children. The site features vibrant photos of women of color showing off their post-baby bodies and sharing stories about their new self-love journey. There is also a blog portion where I bring attention to body positive stories and other women/body issues.

As I have put myself in this body-positive blogger position, it has pushed me to lead by example, and really work to adapt a body-positive attitude for myself. I still suck in my belly occasionally in the mirror, but I make it a point to appreciate my body, and remind myself that hating my insecurities only plays into the sexist, capitalist and other systems of oppression designed to keep us from focusing our energy on tearing down those very systems.

I still have a ways to go, but I know one thing…

I have been every size between 0 and 10, and I am more accepting of my body now than I have ever been before. Watch my story below:

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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