I had the pleasure recently of photographing Jessica Smith and her gorgeous family after they welcomed their 4th member of the family, little baby Reza, a few weeks ago. Jessica is (among many other things) a former paralympian, author, passionate advocate for raising awareness of mental health and positive body image - oh, and not to mention, a wonderful wife and mama . Jessica shares so much of her inspiring journey through life and motherhood on her instagram an facebook pages and when I read this post earlier in the week, I connected so much with her message, I knew I had to share it here too:
One photo that I will never share, is a before and after baby image of my body. So, Let's talk about body image.
As many of you are aware I have struggled with negative body image my entire life. Born missing my arm and then sustaining horrible scars after an horrific accident with boiling water. Growing up I knew I was different, not only did I look different, but society told me I was different through the language they used to describe me.
I hated my body. I tortured my body because I had no respect for myself. Depression, bulimia and anorexia were my coping mechanisms... that almost cost me my life.
It took years to retrain my brain to be respectful, but thankfully I now appreciate my body for what it can do, not what it looks like.
Ironically, it's my differences and perceived imperfections that have provided me with so many opportunities in life... I'm celebrated because of my differences not in spite of them.
As a new Mum I too feel the pressure to conform to society's ridiculous idea of what women should look like post baby.. but thankfully I won't allow myself to fall into the trap. The trap that becomes a vicious cycle for so many woman, believing that the quicker you lose weight and regain your body ... Well to be honest I don't even know what it symbolises or represents. But what I do know is that I'm saddened by all the before and after photos shared on social media. Don't get me wrong I'm not for one second saying that these women shouldn't be proud of their body's transformation... Rather I'm appalled at society for sending a message that women need to do this at a time when we need to recover!! It's been almost a month since I had Reza, and no my body is not back to what it was, nor should it be. I'm still carrying about 10 extra kilos... and so what. I'm not going to rush back into anything before my body is ready.
I hope that one day all new mums feel the same, and society learns to support women rather than set unrealistic expectations during such an emotionally and physically challenging time.
Don't you just want to hang out with this amazing woman and talk to her all day!? I must admit, I had to remind myself a few times during our session that I was there to take photos and not just chit chat all day log !!
As you can see, her family are also THE SWEETEST and it was such a joy capturing some precious memories of the fleeting newborn bubble and family life for them.
If you would like your own family memories captured, please get in touch and let's chat about organising your own newborn or family photography session !