The stories of our post-baby flesh

From the moment we're old enough to pick up a magazine, watch TV or see billboards, we are bombarded with images of what society deems beautiful. 

With 90 per cent of cases of anorexia and bulimia occurring in females, and an Australian 2012 study confirming that as many as 1 million sufferers are starving or purging each day, there can be little doubt that female body image is a pretty big deal.

Mums unite ... Each inch of our bodies carries the biographies of our lives.
Mums unite ... Each inch of our bodies carries the biographies of our lives. Photo: Danielle Colley

One of the most fundamental changes the female body will ever go through is the journey of pregnancy and childbirth. Although this occurrence is indeed a beauteous thing resulting in an even more amazing thing (a child!), there are many changes the body undergoes that can leave mums not feeling their physical best. Add that to swirling hormones, exhaustion and no time for yourself, and it’s little wonder that regaining that pre-baby physique is something many women struggle to achieve. 

Mothers, with children of any age, aren’t impervious to media imagery, or to the suggestion that body perfection is the ultimate beauty. 

My Facebook feed recently showed an advertisement for ‘Australia’s First Mummy Makeover’, with an accompanying image showing a flat tummy covered in pre-operative Morse code that indicated the areas that need to be cut into shape. 

The makeover consisted of a tummy tuck for the excess skin where flesh once stretched to accommodate your growing child, and liposuction across your hips where they thickened to help balance your load

I found it offensive. Not because I’m anti-surgery – I feel that it’s your right to nip, tuck, plump, smooth, abrade, or alter your body in any way you see fit if you truly believe it will enhance your self-esteem and improve your confidence.

I actually found it offensive because I felt that it was suggesting that after we grow a human being inside of us for nine months – until our skin is positively stretching from the inside – that the excess stomach skin, added fat and thickened hips are so undesirable that we should cut it out of our bodies.


I made a comment on my blog about it, and one particular response stuck in my mind.

It pisses me off! I think a mum's body and everything that goes with it is beautiful. I am proud of my stretch marks and my body.”

I loved that comment so much that I contacted the writer to speak with her about her body image. An idea was blooming.

I decided to create a campaign to highlight the beauty that is the post-baby physique, and to show that each inch of our bodies carries the biographies of our lives.

I invited mothers into my home to be photographed in their underwear and I was surprised at the great response. Each shoot was so intimate and personal, each model’s story so unique – as unique as her own skin.

It felt like sacred women’s business.

The response has been phenomenal – not just from the readers who are awed at the courage and honesty of the participants, but also from the models, who have each spoken to me of a new love and appreciation for their bodies, along with a renewed sense of empowerment.

For me, this is the greatest success story I could hope for.