10 Moms Bare Their 'Perfectly Imperfect' Bodies to Show How Beautiful Postpartum Can Be (PHOTOS)

Judy Dutton | Jun 1, 2015 Being a Mom

neely ker-fox

After popping out two kids, Neely Ker-Fox experienced a rude awakening: "I no longer recognized my own body," the Columbus, Georgia mom admits, adding that her second birth landed her with an umbilical hernia and stretch marks that were hard to shake. "The days would ebb back and forth between grieving my physique to battling to find strength in the fact that I’ve grown two babies in this body."

Hoping to reverse this negative mindset, Neely turned to her passion -- photography -- with a new series called Perfect Imperfections. Her goal? To recast mom's physical "flaws" as beautiful.

In May during the weekend right before Mother's Day, Neely posted a call-out online for volunteers, and 16 women showed up at her studio -- most with their kids. In the space of two 12-hour photo sessions, Neely photographed herself and the others baring their stretch marks, cellulite, and other "blemishes" for the camera.

From there, these photos -- which Neely promised wouldn't be altered to look "better" -- were posted online. And the response from viewers and the photo subjects themselves has been overwhelmingly positive.

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"There have been countless emails and messages sent not only to myself, but to the participants thanking them for being bold and brave, and in turn wanting to tell their own stories," says Neely, adding that she hopes to photograph more subjects in the future. To her, this project has proven something she's always known.

"I truly believe that photography and art have the ability to heal," she says. And while moms may benefit, so can many others. "Obviously women are more apt to be the victim of body shaming, but we as humans all have insecurities and we are all scarred, imperfect and flawed in some way," she points out. "Standing on the other side of this first endeavor into this project, I’m convinced people of all ages, genders, and races struggling to find acceptance of their bodies could benefit from this. As humans we are all vulnerable."

Check out her photos to hear what some of the subjects have to say about the experience.

Isn't what the mom said in #11 spot on?

 

Image via ker-fox photography

  • Casey G.

    1

    "If ever there was a way to empower and heal myself, I think it's this photo shoot. I desperately want to go back to being the woman who was confident and proud of this body that grew and nourished life. I can't imagine how proud I would be if some other woman out there saw my postpartum self loving the skin I'm in and found a way to relate."

  • Erica B.

    2

    "I was so nervous to be a part of this project. I have always been a bigger woman and have never seen myself as beautiful. But since having my son, I wanted to do this to show him beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. I wanted to do this for myself too. I felt so comfortable and beautiful during the shoot. I will never forget this experience."

  • Jenny H.

    3

    "I was so nervous to do this, especially after the meet-and-greet where I saw all the  other beauties participating. (I don’t know why women compare ourselves to each other that way). But I felt pretty comfortable during the shoot, and so enjoyed loving on my sweet babies. After all, it is the way women are capable of loving that make us beautiful. You never see a better example of that than a mom with her kids."

  • Ashley O.

    4

    "Once I got pregnant, I was sure I would have no problem getting back to pre-pregnancy weight … which hasn’t been the case. But my life is full. I have the sweetest little chunk who fills my heart. I have a partner who is supportive and loving. I work. I play. And I am loving life without obsessing about being a size six one month postpartum. I want other women to be healthy, and well, and love life too without pressures of fitting an idea of beauty."

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  • Kristi E.

    5

    "For myself, the whole experience was symbolic in seeing how far I have come, not only as a mother but also as a woman. Coming to love myself the way that God intended has taken some time and lots of self reflection. I want to be the best for myself so that I can be the best for my daughter."

  • Roslyn B.

    6

    "I have struggled with body image basically since puberty. After leaving the shoot, I had a sense of confidence I’ve never experienced before. I called my husband on my way home, and was telling how awesome the shoot was, and how great I felt. I absolutely loved being a part of this very important project, and I’m so happy my girls were able to experience it too."

  • Rachel M.

    7

    "This experience is a step forward for me in the hopes that one day I will accept my changed body -- exposure therapy if you will. I begged and pleaded to God to allow me to carry my babies, and I am reminded daily of what I went through to have them. One day, my babies will be grown and the rest of my body gone, but I will always have these photos to remind me of the miracle of the two lives that I was able to carry."

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  • Dana B.

    8

    "I am honored to have taken part in such an amazing event. Doing so helped me to accept and embrace my 'new' body after having Peyton. After all, he is our Rainbow after the storm … and for that I am eternally grateful!"

  • Kacie C.

    9

    "I did this shoot for me and my children. I’ve always struggled to accept my flaws, but after giving birth to my daughters, those flaws seem more like beautiful marks of our journey together. I hope that my daughters look back on this and know to judge themselves based on who they are, and not what anyone says or thinks about them."

  • Taylor W.

    10

    "It’s so hard to put into words how this experience has made me feel. If I had to sum everything up in one word it would be influential, this is something that I hope will have an impact on my daughter and her own body image for years to come!"

  • Rachael S.

    11

    "I walked out of the shoot with my head held high with a new confidence I didn’t know I had in me. From glancing at a few of the shots on the camera, I saw more beauty than I expected, confidence in being a mother (the kind my mom told me she see’s in my mothering but I couldn’t picture and was really unsure of) and most importantly that my daughter loves me because I’m her 'ma-ma' and that love is indescribable. She doesn’t care about anything else and her smile and mine in the photo say it all!"

  • Neely K.

    12

    "I have a daughter, and for her I pray that by the time she's an impressionable teenager that the media will have finally wised up to the immense responsibility they have in moulding not only young girls' self worth through imagery, but also what society deems beautiful. And for my son, I pray that he knows the power and beauty of a poochy tummy."

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