This Woman Wants Every Mom Trying to Lose Weight to 'See the Beauty in the Before'


BriannaBellWrites/Facebook

Along with the weight loss–related resolutions that many people tend to set this time of year usually come the "before" photos: those shots that no one really wants to take, but that we feel compelled to do so we can eventually compare it to the "after" photo. When most people pose for before photos, they do it with the idea that they're supposed to feel miserable about the way they look. But a mom named Brianna Bell is going viral for her uniquely positive spin on the practice.

  • On the Facebook page 'Her View From Home,' Bell shared her "before" shot, with a caption that says, "I am not pregnant. I just like cookies, bagels, and butter chicken."

    When her husband set up the shot, he joked, "Don't smile, you're supposed to look miserable." 

    "But am I? Am I miserable? Do I hate myself and my body?" Bell remarked. "Sometimes. But that's not what I want to remember about this moment."

    Instead, the mom shares, this is the "before" photo that "captures the woman I am today. A mother of three. A wife to a husband who adores me and calls me sexy. A writer. A friend. A daughter. This is me."

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  • "I want to remember my round belly that appears to be carrying a baby, but is just evidence that I carried three very large babies in my tiny 4 foot 11 inch body," Bell notes.

    Daniel Bell

    "I want to remember these arms. They look out of shape, but they are strong. They can carry a 45-pound 5-year-old with ease. They can lift my 35 pound 3-year-old above my head, swinging her around. They have rocked and cradled my infant many days and nights," she adds. "I want to remember my legs ... These legs that have chased defiant children through the mall. Legs that have pumped high in the air on a swing, both as a child and as a mother, always carefree, my head tilted back to the sky."

    More from CafeMom: This Mom's Rant About Changing Her Postpartum 'Goals' Is So On-Point

    Ultimately, Bell believes that her body is a "vessel," and she hasn't "treated it in the way it deserves." So, this is her plan going forward: "I want to treat my body with respect and dignity, while also remembering that this 'before' picture does not symbolize a rock bottom, or lesser version of myself. I am me and I am beautiful. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow." 

  • Since being posted on January 1, Bell's story has racked up 1.5K reactions.

    Commenters are thanking the mom of three for sharing her truth and celebrating other strong, beautiful moms.

  • And they want to follow her example when it comes to striving for self-improvement without sacrificing self-love.

  • Bell thanked commenters and encouraged them to join her in owning "beauty in the 'before.'"

    The 28-year-old, who lives in Ontario, Canada, tells CafeMom she's "most surprised by how positive the reaction has been." She explains: "I am a reporter for my local newspaper and also a national essayist. I am used to sharing and being vulnerable, and always tense for the backlash. I have only received positive messages of support and that has been so sweet and lovely to experience."

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    Bell tells CafeMom her commitment to practicing self-compassion while upping her fitness game has been a lifelong journey. "My body is naturally curvy ... but as an adult, I struggled with my weight," she says. "... I couldn't live with myself feeling disgusting all the time, so I knew my mindset had to change. I needed to feel beautiful now, and so I wrote this piece to both encourage myself and others."

    Of course Bell isn't alone. She points out that most women "learn from a young age to look at our bodies with a magnifying glass and pick ourselves apart. Maybe our family members commented on how slim we looked, how athletic our bodies were at a young age. Our culture is not kind to women who gain weight, we are not forgiving to mothers who have had babies. By adulthood, we are overwhelmed with a tsunami wave that tells us overwhelmingly that thin is good and thick is bad."

    But that tsunami is even more reason Bell's thrilled to see that her message resonating. "I see a lot of 'before' and 'after' photos, especially in these early months," she shares. "But who shares ONLY a before photo, and who actually says they LOVE their before body? Why don't we love our before body?"

  • There's so much to love about Bell's perspective on beginning a weight loss journey.

    Daniel Bell

    It's far too easy for us to fall into self-loathing when we're uncomfortable in our skin. It's also far too easy for many of us to inextricably link our self-worth with our weight and/or the shape of our often-changing bodies. But there's no reason we can't strive to practice self-love and compassion instead of hating on ourselves. There's no reason we can't focus on what our bodies are capable of and have accomplished, even as we zero in on writing a healthier next chapter.

    That script-flip is always going to be a practice, a work in progress. But it's undoubtedly a worthwhile effort. "Give yourself a pat on the back for all you've done, all that your body has done," Bell advises. "Say kind words to your beautifully imperfect body."

    Preach, mama.

postpartum weight weight loss body positivity body image
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