So there are these billboards that have been popping up in my area advertising plastic surgery services. At first I didn’t pay much attention to them, you know, to each their own. Admittedly, when I was younger I imagined getting a little nip tuck here or there if something got too loose. However, when I noticed that right under “breast augmentation” was “mommy makeover” I was immediately bewildered. Mommy makeover? I thought having a child was my mommy makeover.
Through creating and building MyPostBabyBody I have been able to unlearn the negative body expectations that women face and recalibrate my own perceptions of beauty. I have gone from wondering how to make the excess skin that hangs from my belly like a chandelier go away. To wondering why my chandelier belly isn’t on the cover of Elle Magazine. Really though, why isn’t it? If every human being on this planet was birthed by a woman, and a significant number of women have residual evidence of said birth, then why hasn’t the post baby body been normalized in our society? I mean beyond the idea that you either “snap back” or pose strategically behind your children in pictures to hide your “baby weight”.
Which brings me back to the mommy makeover billboards that are proliferating in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live. I am appalled by their assertion that my body needs to be made over because I performed the miraculous feat of staying off wine and soft cheeses (I love cheese by the way) for nine plus months, carrying an extra 30+ pounds, stretching to accommodate an entire human being in my uterus only to push that human being out of my vagina after hours of delirious pain. Not to mention, the lifetime that follows of having to actually raise that human being so that he can become a functional and conscious adult who resists society’s oppressive messaging that is constantly deeming his beauty unacceptable. You know, nothing major.
I should also mention that I have no issue with mothers who go under the knife. It is the overarching negative post baby body sentiment that the billboards represent that I have beef with. Nevertheless, I probably shouldn’t take those billboards so personally. After all, they are not advertising to public school teachers such as myself. Those plastic surgeons know that I cannot afford their services although, I hear they do offer layaway these days. In all seriousness, they are advertising to the people merely driving through my town, Oakland, to get to San Francisco. Talk about adding insult to energy. I have a billboard in my community that is telling me that my miraculous stretch-marked-flabby-child-producing body needs to get made over but I am not even the billboard’s intended audience.
Nevertheless, I am just going to use my feelings of frustration from those somewhat misguided billboard’s messaging to fuel my work. The work of reminding women that while physical makeovers can be empowering, mental makeovers are essential- not just for our own well-being but for our children’s. We don’t necessarily need plastic surgeons to make us over, we need to embrace and be loved for the mommy makeovers our children gave us through pregnancy and childbirth. That is the message that should be sprawled on billboards. That is the message that mommies need no matter where they are on their post baby body journey.