Quantcast

Why One Mother Is Embracing Her Stretch Marks Through A Series of 'Provocative' Photos

The new mom proudly displays her “stretch marks and imbalanced breasts” in a series of photos accompanied by captions on her postpartum body.

Motherhood

There's nothing I love to see more than a mother living comfortably in the body she's in after giving birth to a child. Regardless of how long a woman's carried, we've all gone through the same adventures of having our skin stretched, our thighs enlarged and our breasts gone up a cup size (or two). But those shared experiences oftentimes lead to a division once children arrive when some mothers are fortunate enough to go back to their pre-baby body.

In an age where many find a need to share their journey of motherhood on the 'net, conversations on snapbacks aren't unfamiliar, but make many women uncomfortable. While plenty will argue that the discomfort lies in personal insecurities about one's body, others believe that posting photos of a tighter tummy and slimmer mommy that garners hundreds of thousands of likes, fosters the belief that that is an ideal body for mothers. But what happens when you post photos that are a striking reality of the everyday mom that isn't a celebrity?

Ask Aussie mom and blogger, Haddas Ancliffe, who is igniting conversations on self-acceptance of the body, following childbirth. Her Instagram account is like any other–a collection of intimate moments with family, fashion pieces, and vacation spots–but what stands out the most on Ancliffe's page are the pictures of her alone and in her skin. Instead of advertising two-piece bikinis and brands like a sponsored post, the new mom proudly displays her “stretch marks and imbalanced breasts" along with her stomach's loose skin in a series of photos that are accompanied by empowering captions on her postpartum body.
“I have bad days you know... Days where I look at myself and think, I'll never look like girls on Instagram in their calvins with amazing figures and smooth flat tummies. But I don't have days anymore where I want to tear off my skin or cry at my reflection. Gone are the days where I'd refuse to go out if I thought I looked bad or get mad at anyone who would compliment me. NOW most of my days I look at myself and I'm happy. My body isn't where I'd like it to be health/strength wise, my skin sees pimples daily and my hair is mostly in a frizzy bun but I'm beautiful none the less! I'm one of God's creations which in itself means I am beautiful, glorious even. I want to be real with everyone that's why I'm saying this, so you know I don't just have 100% confidence and no flaws. I am flawed, I'm not always confident but I am living and breathing and full of love so I have no reason to be down on myself. Same goes for all of you, whether you're a mommy or not, if you're alive you are nothing short of beautiful. #mycalvins P.S these bras are so good for breastfeeding."

Calling her photos “a different kind of provocative," Haddas leaves honest thoughts on her experience, one that doesn't just relate to new mothers who are attempting to come to terms with their new bodies, but women as a whole. And they're very inspiring, to say the least. She wrote in the caption of another photo:

Images of young women in bikinis flood our Instagram feeds daily. Sexual, near naked, provocative pictures that get a lot of attention and make other women who don't look the same feel inadequate. Well here's a different kind of provocative image for your feed. An image that says, my body is stretched, sagging and uneven but I'm still attractive. You don't stop looking good in a bikini once you have kids, you just look like a different kind of good. When your body no longer looks like the Instagram bikini model and you have a mom bod, be proud! Put on your bikini and belly chain, do your best Kylie Jenner in the pool pose and be proud that your child thinks you're the most beautiful person in the world... That's all that matters anyway. #motherhood

What the Australian mother is doing aside from being candid about her journey, is shifting the narrative on women who don't fit the “perfect body" criteria. Campaigns from companies that cater to women have already assisted with promoting body diversity and positivity, and Ebony magazine has already cultivated a much-needed conversation on redefining beauty with their “Body Brigade" issue. Society still has a long way to go, but what matters most is how we as women feel about the bodies before us in mirrors. Ancliffe is saying and sharing what most won't and has found approval within herself–a life lesson to anyone who struggles with the skin they're in.

What are your thoughts on Haddas' bold move to share her postpartum body for the world? Let us know below.

Featured image via Dahs/Instagram

When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.

Featured image by Getty Images

The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

Keep reading...Show less

TW: This article may contain mentions of suicide and self-harm.

In early 2022, the world felt like it slowed down a bit as people digested the shocking news of beauty pageant queen Cheslie Kryst, who died by suicide. When you scroll through her Instagram, the photos she had posted only weeks before her death were images of her smiling, looking happy, and being carefree. You can see photos of her working, being in front of the camera, and doing what I imagine was her norm. These pictures and videos, however, began to spark a conversation among Black women who knew too well that feeling like you're carrying the world on your shoulders and forcing yourself to smile through it all to hide the pain.

Keep reading...Show less

Ironically enough—considering the way the word begins—the love-hate relationship that we have with menstruation is comparable to the way in which we navigate the world of men. It’s very much “can’t live with it, can’t live without it” vibes when it comes to women and their cycles. But the older I get, the more I learn to hate that time of the month a little less. A lot of my learning to embrace my period has come with learning the fun, interesting, and “witchy” stuff while discovering more natural, in-tune ways of minimizing the pain in my ass (those cramps know no bounds) amongst other places.

Keep reading...Show less

SZA is no stranger to discussing her mental health struggles and her experiences with anxiety. In 2021, the “Good Days” singer tweeted about having “debilitating anxiety” that causes her to shield away from the public. Unfortunately, she still has those same struggles today and opened up about it during Community Voices 100th episode for Mental Health Awareness Month. While SZA enjoys making music, she’s not a fan of the spotlight, which may be surprising to many.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Latest Posts