In our partnership with Dove, IMAGE is on a mission to change how women view beauty. Scars, stretchmarks, lumps, bumps, curves and lines are all what make a body beautiful — something that we want to see reflected everywhere, not just on the pages of our magazine and website. This month, IMAGE's own staffers are reflecting on their relationships with their bodies, and how they have come to view them as the beautiful things they are.
Ciara Cosgrove is IMAGE's Events & Partnerships Director, and her baby boy Luke is almost two. Pregnancy and giving birth gave her a whole new perspective on her body — and why we should all respect how strong we really are.
From a very young age, I, unfortunately, have always been very body-conscious. I liked to keep fit but I also liked to enjoy life — eating the pies and drinking the wine, always aware of the effect & constantly feeling “the guilt”.
Before I became pregnant, I had heard all of the postpartum horror stories, with very few positive anecdotes. From saggy bellies and extra pounds to bigger hips and stretch marks, the morale was basically that my body would never be the same ever again. The way women around me talked about their bodies while pregnant and after giving birth was in utter disgust of themselves. Not to mention the pressure to “bounce back” to some resemblance of 'normal' and so effortlessly too.
Of course, there are times I miss my toned body and how some clothes don’t look or fit the same anymore but really, I knew my body would never be quite the same.
Then I had my baby boy. And while my body wasn’t the same at all, I also felt completely and utterly fine about that fact. I mean, I just grew a human for over nine months, laboured for three days and my journey as a parent was only beginning — come on! I felt strong and how my body looked really did not matter to me or my new baby.
My scar (after an emergency Caesarean section delivery) is, as my hubby calls it, “my badge of honour”; reminding me of what I was capable of and today, I’m actually proud of it. Of course, there are times I miss my toned body and how some clothes don’t look or fit the same anymore but really, I knew my body would never be quite the same. Just like my life would never be the same, due to one sweet little boy I now have the honour of parenting.
The transition of motherhood can be disorienting and overwhelming on multiple levels, and the physical ups and downs of post-baby life are no different.
The advice I would give any expecting mums is really to try and learn to love and respect your body for being the vessel that allows you go on the journey that is life. Finding that self-love and continuing on the journey of having a healthy relationship with our bodies is crucial in ensuring that a body positive attitude is reflected onto our children.
Don’t take for granted the simple things like walking, breathing, creating and carrying a child. To hold your children's hands, to kiss your partner, to swim in the ocean, spin on a bicycle or laugh with your friends — anything that you love to do is because your body carries you there
As leading advocates for real beauty with a rich history diversifying the images of women portrayed in commercial media, Dove’s latest campaign is an empowering call to shatter unrealistic beauty standards. IMAGE recruited a group of women from different walks of life as part of Dove's project #ShowUs which is doing the important work of filling the gaps between how beauty has been depicted for generations. With the goal of true inclusivity in mind, we can finally begin to expand society’s definition of beauty.