1. Thank you for your courage!

    Please go to this website & listen to my song “Real Girls.” You’ll like it! And if you do so before midnight tonight, please vote for me for KUTX Song of the Day.

    http://www.kutx.org/cactus-cafe/stage-to-studio-june-2013

  2. Sarah Maria says:

    Beth. The photos are beautiful!

    I have always been the biggest boned, thickest woman in my family, and I love being thicker. I think it is beautiful. But it did take me awhile as I moved from child to teenager to love my body.

    Have your girls read Maya Angelo’s poem Phenomenal Woman?

    Bless, SM

  3. Katy says:

    I must admit that I immediate googled “Allison Stokke” & was very pleased to see that the “hottest body in the world” belonged to an athlete! I love this post Beth 🙂 I will also admit that I laughed out loud at “I really did that. I really just posted my stretch marks on the internet.” Yes, yes you did! And they’re beautiful!

  4. Rachel Smith says:

    Thank you!

  5. Jade Beall says:

    LOVE this!!! thank you thank you thank you!!! You are a true Sister Goddess! I pray to meet you one day! xoxox, Jade

  6. Sophia says:

    Wow, so special and important! Thank you so much I needed to hear this.

  7. With tears and a standing ovation, I thank you and my two precious daughters thank you.

  8. Great post. So well-written, so true, I wish I had written it myself. As mom of two daughters, I struggle with all of these questions. I try to stress “healthy and strong” over “pretty” even as I hypocritically count my calories and agonize over my dress size and placement of my boobage. We all need to wake up and realize our bodies are miraculous. I never felt more healthy and powerful than I did during pregnancy and breastfeeding. I remember telling myself my body BUILT and sustained human beings, it was strong and beautiful. I need to remember that lesson.

  9. Lara says:

    Gosh, I love you. You are brave and vulnerable and beautiful.

  10. Laura says:

    Beautiful belly! Why is it we can always see that on another woman?

  11. That was beautiful and so timely because I’ve found myself totally at odds with my postpartum belly.

    I cried when I read, ““My belly skin hangs down like that when I do yoga because it was stretched to enormous proportions in order to create space for my favorite people on the planet. ” To have a belly in the state that mine is in is a total HONOR. My sagging skin is a sign of LIFE and that is the true story worth some show-and-tell.

    The standard of unconditional love I have for my children is so evident and accessible. I love the idea of attempting to apply that standard to myself.

  12. Holly says:

    Loved this! Ever since you wrote about the older wiser mama interviews with ladies who didn’t care if you took pictures of them au naturale I’ve been on a quest of size acceptance. I find it interesting that such thin women torture themselves as much as us obese women torture ourselves. Of course I’ve been overweight since I was about 7, put on my first diet at 10, and now apparently I’m considered diseased according to the AMA!! In my search of size acceptance I’m came across a blog called The Fat nutritionist. I highly recommend it to further anyone’s search and questioning of size acceptance, not just mama stretch marks and saggy boobs!

  13. Alison says:

    Well done, Beth. Well done. For telling yourself, and telling your daughters, and telling us how to remind ourselves too. Thank you.

  14. vic says:

    A big global apology is overdue from the masculine side of humanity for our self-focused, and insecurity-laden exploitation of our other half. We are puny weaklings when it comes to understanding our own needs and we are desperate in our need to connect to you. So, we try to prop ourselves up at your expense. Our immature expectations (of certain physical characteristics), are cruel, and not even ultimately useful.

    Maybe we all need to make a big apology to the Eternal Mother/Father who made us in his/her image for a higher purpose than we can imagine.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    THANK you for the beautiful, wonderfully written and compiled piece. It speaks the truth and every woman needs to read this!

  16. Kay says:

    Beautiful, Beth. Both of my wonderful children are adopted. There were years prior to them, though, that I would have given anything to have those stretch marks and would be wearing them proudly as a symbol of how much I loved having the experience and having them in my life.

    • Andrea says:

      Thank you for that comment. I spend so much time hating my stretch marks, googling relentlessly “how to hide/eliminate/deal with stretch marks” and worrying others will run screaming from me in a two piece bathing suit, that I completely overlooked your point. I went through infertility. It was the hardest thing mentally I have ever dealt with. The elated moment I found out I was pregnant, the following miraculous 7.5 months (i delivered very early) and becoming the person I am today got totally lost in there somewhere. ((hugs))

  17. Rita says:

    My feelings about my body are so tangled I sometimes feel I’ll never sort them out. I had the cultural ideal when I was young, which brought me attention I both craved and hated. I was infertile (and then had a high-risk pregnancy, and then was unable to breast-feed), so I cannot look at the changes wrought by parenting and feel a clear, clean sense of accomplishment in connection with them. Now age is bringing more changes, and although I want to embrace those as some kind of badge of honor, evidence of life lived, the truth is that I want my flat tummy and perky breasts back (among other things). And then I feel like a shallow, spoiled, (insert about 50 other adjectives for “wrong”) woman because this even matters to me, because I am not simply grateful to be alive, because I do not *feel* all the ways in which my body is manifestation of the privileges I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy. I try to hide these feelings from my daughter–because I want her to love her amazing body, I want her to love it the way I do, without qualification or condition–but I feel like a hypocrite.

    I truly appreciate you tackling this issue in such a substantial, thoughtful, and, above all, honest way.

    • Marti Klever says:

      I am just like you have described yourself in this post. My hair is thinning, I have some scarring on my chest from sun exposure and some leftover acne scarring on my face from my adolescence. Aging is another “great” concern, you might say an “obsession” I have. Recently, I have spent a few thousand dollars on facial injections and lost thirty-five pounds. I have a personal trainer who keeps me in shape. I hate to admit it, but these remediations make me feel good about myself. Would I like to be able to let it all go and just love myself with all my imperfections and my aging process? Yes, of course. I would have more of my money and probably more peace of mind. And yet, the pursuit of beauty is part of the culture in which I live. One of these days, of course, I will be obliged to let go of it all…no one gets out “alive.” I loved this post, however. It is wonderful to know that there is at least one woman in the world who is climbing out of the beauty trap.

  18. Angie says:

    I love the following poem about mothers beach bodies, I heard the author read it on NPR once, I thought you would enjoy it. Loved your post, by the way. It is funny how we have gone from a society where modesty standards were physically repressive to where the lack of modesty standards (ie the string bikini) is repressive in another way – how much do our fears of our bikini bodies control us? How much time and physical and emotional energy does it take from us? I wish we could find a nice happy medium.

    Ode
    by Elizabeth Alexander

    I love all the mom bodies at this beach,
    the tummies, the one-piece bathing suits,
    the bosoms that slope, the wide nice bottoms,
    thigh flesh shirred as gentle wind shirrs a pond.

    So many sensible haircuts and ponytails!
    These bodies show they have grown babies, then
    nourished them, woken to their cries, fretted
    at their fevers. Biceps have lifted and toted

    the babies now printed on their mothers.
    “If you lined up a hundred vaginas,
    I could tell you which ones have borne children,”
    the midwife says. In the secret place or

    in sunlight at the beach, our bodies say
    This is who we are, no, This is what
    we have done and continue to do.
    We labor in love. We do it. We mother

  19. luisa says:

    I love this. I have been on a mission to be kinder to myself and encourage everyone around me to do the same… I relate to your friend’s post about her body and desire to have control over something bigger. working on letting go of control, too… thank you for sharing this. you are beautiful, lovely, in every way. xo

  20. Susan says:

    Thank you.

  21. Donja says:

    When I was a little girl I used to sit on my mom’s lap and rub her tummy. I loved it! It was soft life bread dough and as a toddler I’d pretend it was just that and had lots of fun playing with it… Sure that sounds weird but I was just a child and it was one of the things I loved about my mother.
    Now I’ve had my own child and though I recognize that my belly looks a lot like my mom’s did and it brings back memories, I also feel like I should be doing sit ups and walking more and getting those belly shrinking wraps!
    I’d forgotten how awesome a soft dough belly can be in it’s own way. This page has reminded me that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So long as I’m healthy I don’t think I need to lose weight 🙂
    So thanks for the share! It was nice to read this and see the ol’ spare tire as more than just unwanted skin.

  22. Sandy Fox says:

    Wonderful words of wisdon. Sent to me by my very beautiful daughter-in-law that is struggling with accepting her post babies body. I am 56 years old and I am thrilled to learn that wiser women than me are refusing to accept the crapola that the entertainment industry and the media has foisted upon women for too long. Beautify women come in all shapes, sizes and ages. I for one refuse to accept that I cannot be older and still be considered a beautiful woman.Beauty is NOT “skin deep”. Beauty comes from the inside out. And there is NOTHING more beautiful than a woman that loves. Loves her family. Loves her friends. Loves life. And most importantly, loves herself.

  23. Dawn says:

    I have no words to articulate how this post made me feel today…as a recovering anorexic I struggle every. single. day. with my body image after having given life to two amazing little creatures. I want to print this entire article and glue it to my wall. Wow. Blessings on you and yours.

  24. Andrea says:

    Awesome! Thank you! So looking forward to reading your post on attachment parenting!

  25. Michelle says:

    BEAUTIFUL! This is so timely for me as just this morning I was telling my husband that my “deformed” stomach was so embarrassing and that I don’t even feel comfortable with him seeing it. This is just what I needed to read. It makes me want to take a picture and post it (but I won’t). To think of my stomach as having signs of a miracle is such a beautiful reframe. You inspire me every week Beth! Thank you so much for what you do!

  26. Thia says:

    Thank you, Beth. As always, thought provoking. My belly, and squishy sides, thank you. I will enjoy wearing my bikini this summer, with pride. I think this is just as important for our sons, as it is for our daughters.
    Thank you for the words to use with my own daughter.

  27. Thea says:

    There is a very smart, insightful book about this subject. Bodies, by Susie Orbach. I loved this post. I find it so interesting and sad how ‘beauty’, and especially ‘health’ have been turned into a kind of world wide, media delivered fascism.

  28. Katie says:

    I just stumbled across your page and I’m so happy to see this post. I’m a new mom of a baby girl and also a life coach for new moms… this is such an important reminder for myself and all us mothers. I continue to strive to treat myself with the same love and tenderness in which I treat my daughter with. Keep these posts coming, you’re amazing!

  29. Liz says:

    Beautiful. And I also can’t wait for you to address that attachment parenting bit on co-sleeping, wood toys and still producing a video-game loving boy. That shit cracked me up. Mostly because I’m the mom of a 14 month old boy who is daily teaching me that I am so not in control of so much. Its always good to read those truth-telling bits from other parents who have been in the game a bit longer.

  30. Sandra Mort says:

    This post made me tear up. This summer I AM going to keep gardening all summer long, giving me a nice healthy color without burning and maybe working on some muscle tone. I am focusing on health, not BMI or lbs. And screw the neurosurgeon and anybody else who thinks that the way I need to improve my health is to have bariatric surgery or “just eat less”.

    Oh, and I hear your friend on the toy guns and video games. I was raised in a strictly No Guns household (not even finger guns!) and somehow ended up with kids who like to play shooting games when they think I’m not looking. *sigh*

  31. Maria AnneTina says:

    I needed to hear someone say all these amazing things. I have been struggling to figure out how to honour stretch marks for women, you did it, Thank-you!
    And thanks for addressing the fashion/femminism aspect from corsets to spanx, and low rise jeans! I’ve been struggling to “accept” my new (ok its been almost 4 yrs)body because I don’t know how to dress it to todays standards. I feel freed to do whatever I want to create my own feminine standard… I’m gonna go get some chocolate and think about this some more. Oh, and thanks for the tips on what to say to my almost 4yr old daughter who always wants to look pretty.

  32. allison says:

    awesome. they are all awesome, but this one hits a subject that is so hard for us to talk about. seriously. thanks. so much.

  33. As with everything in parenting, our words don’t mean much if we don’t practice what we preach. After hearing my thin & fit mom criticize herself for years, I decided in my 20’s that I would give up feeling bad about my body – for good. Since then, I’ve gotten all sorts of time back that I used to spend worrying about getting fat. I now devote that time to worrying about all sorts of other things 😉

  34. Shannon says:

    This is exactly what I needed in this moment. Sometimes I am quite thankful I have a boy because I am completely entranced in this societal bullshit and beat myself up for it practically every day. I still need to show him to love his body by loving my own and what a real body looks like. Why do i even have to convince myself to love my body, it seems like it should come natural but that is the fartherest thing from the truth in our society.

  35. Angela Berkfield says:

    You are amazing, Beth berry. And pretty please blog on the attachment parenting stuff.

  36. Beth says:

    A million thanks to each and every one of you for your thoughtful and heartfelt comments! They mean the world to me and fuel this fire inside to dig deep and continue to write my truth. Abrazos.

  37. Debra OBryan says:

    Many thanks for this honest, heartfelt and so true message. I am a yoga instructor and last year created my own on-line yoga studio. I have four children and have that extra skin that will never go away and is that reminder of how blessed I feel to have them. When I taught my first class on video, I had this moment of self doubt, where I thought, “What am I thinking, I don’t have the perfect body to be on camera”, but then I knew in my heart that this was EXACTY AS IT SHOULD BE, I want to embrace and embody for all women and girls, and husbands, and sons, what a “REAL” woman looks like and celebrate it! Thank you for sharing this amazing message for us all! Namaste! :)Debra

  38. Rachel says:

    Your belly is beautiful,! Truly! And thanks for inspiring bravery and acceptance and faith. Can we change this for our daughters? I have three! If we can accept and love and appreciate our bodies in all its myriads of forms and shapes and transitions; in maternity and breastfeeding and middle age and old age and menstruation and menopause…..will they? I hope so!

  39. Rena macqueen says:

    I wasted my 20’s and 30’s trying to be beautiful and find love. Now, for my beautiful 2 1/2 year old daughter I want something different. I want for her mental energy to be put to more meaningful and satisfying endeavors. But, how? I killed my TV, but, it isn’t enough. How do I make her into a more authentic person than I was?
    I love your blog and I too can’t wait to read your writing on attachment parenting.
    Thanks, Rena

  40. I really love this, so much. Your perspective is honest & appreciated! I shared all over–this should go viral. 🙂

  41. Danielle says:

    Thank you for your thoughts. I’m expecting my third daughter in a few weeks, and while I’m loving my sexy pregnant body, I know what to expect post delivery. I hope that if my girls have to confront this gross reality in the future I have similar wisdom to impart!

  42. Saundra hoover says:

    Beth Berry-
    YOU are a national treasure!! Write On!!

  43. Saundra hoover says:

    Beth Berry-
    Hallelujah !! Amen!!

  44. Shelly says:

    Thank you. So important.

  45. JENELLE says:

    And there it is. Authentic women writing. About perception. And anxiety. Genuine moments. Words that ring true, written so lovingly. Thank you for giving us a slice of your peace.

  46. Nicole says:

    Goddess…that is what you by your words, courage, truth speaking and your body! Thank you, I needed that. Breathe love in your belly ,exhale and fully relax your belly. My new practice.

  47. Lisabeth says:

    I love this (as a momma who’s been looking for “real” in the whole body-love conversation). Thank you!!

  48. K E R B says:

    Thank you for this. I’m pregnant a second time and needed to hear this!

  49. Every single word you wrote here *and especially the pictures!!* is so freaking amazing. Thank you.

  50. K says:

    I so agree with you. You are so right, but I feel this crap is so deeply embedded in me that I still can’t feel good when I see my stretch marks. Losing weight is the supposed answer to all my problems. I promise to try harder! I need to, I see now, for my daughter. Thank you.

  51. YES! Thank you for this. I needed a little reminder. And the photos are absolutely beautiful. Thanks for covering this topic.

  52. “Because as much as women in other countries are starved for a meal, people in our culture are starved for REAL.”

    Yes. This is what I am discovering about us, too.

  53. Thank you.
    Being the parent of three daughters and a son, I recognize how the not-so-subliminal messaging is constantly trying to erode my girls’ self image.
    I will keep up the fight against this media barrage.

  54. michelle says:

    Wow!!

    Thank you for sharing these powerful and blessed words. I can’t fully respond with words through my tears.

    My 3 year old is napping in the truck as we are parked in the driveway. Prior to my son I worked out 3 hours a day. Obviously my world is radically different now and yes, it shows in my body. My dad suffered a long illness and died a year ago. I joke that apparently eating isn’t going to bring him back.

    Summer has just begun in Canada and your timing is powerful. I thank the Creator for the message received through you and will share with others.

    God(dess) bless!!

  55. Tracy says:

    Teary eyed reading this. Beautiful,honest, amazing. Thank you!

  56. Nicole says:

    Thank you for your brave words and ongoing inspiration, Beth! I’ve linked back to your post here: http://wp.me/p2Zf6z-4R.

  57. Grandma Sam says:

    Amen !!!

  58. Reef says:

    I love this post. I’ve just discovered your blog and it’s WONDERFUL, I mean tears producing, WONDERFUL. I have a long and secret love-affair with Mexico, so in some ways you’re living my dream. But, I’m alone and don’t speak Spanish. Anyway, as a naturist, I think you have addressed the central and most important and beautiful aspects of the body…not just acceptance, but true embracing – of ourselves and all others, all ages, all sizes, all colors.

    I’m rooting for your venture down there, from my little spot here in FL. And, I’ll be reading your blog eagerly! Peace to you and yours…and the two wonderful dogs!! Reef

  59. Victoria says:

    A friend shared this on her FB page. I’ve always had body issues but less than a week ago I gave birth to my beautiful, perfect, second daughter – Rowan. She was stillborn and I’m grieving…

    With my first daughter I was stupidly proud I didn’t get any stretchmarks. Now, I’m so grateful for the tiny handful of stretchmarks I developed under my bellybutton in the last couple of weeks of my pregnancy with Rowan – even though they’re barely noticeable to others I now have a permanent reminder that I carried her. I was so scared I’d forget, even though that’s not possible. At the same time I feel really sad that I’m already at the stupid ‘holy grail’ of fitting into my pre-pregnancy jeans, after less than a week. It means my body is getting back to ‘normal’ and I don’t want it too, I don’t want it to let go (which makes my stretchmarks all the more precious).

  60. Eric Chaffee says:

    Hi. Thought you might enjoy this story about a photographer showing women’s bodies after pregnancy, to help us appreciate them. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23276432

  61. Sara says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  62. Kara G says:

    THANK YOU for writing, and doing, this.

  63. Cristina says:

    Wow, this just floored me. Thank you for sharing these truths.

  64. Jana says:

    LOVE this. Love it. Your thoughts…your courage in posting pictures of yourself…love, love, love. And speaking of Love, that’s how I found your blog…via Mark 🙂

  65. Linnea says:

    This is THE BEST THING. Downward dog belly – oh how I know that! Your response is inspired. I am so desperately tired of fighting this, in myself. I wish I could just let it go, once and for all. (And the recovering AP thing – mom of two boys here, for whom everything becomes a gun. Can’t wait to read more on that.)

  66. Mister Chu says:

    Much to like here. ‘Muffin top angst as potential transformative energy?’ not the least of it….

  67. Kuwanna says:

    Thank you for summarizing what I have been subconsciously feeling about a post-partum body in a swimsuit. I also recently googled swimsuits to cover and hide, and discovered a few ‘miracle makers’ for a deal of $100. My BF years were also some of the best I can remember and I also wouldn’t trade them in for anything. And I refuse to wear a cover up because I don’t want my girls to get the message that when we go swimming we need to cover up. So here I am…planning to wear a conventional suit this summer…I am just as I am, just as I was meant to be. And that’s enough. 🙂 Thank you.

  68. Lolli S says:

    I have the same stretch marks and tummy skin 🙂 You look beautiful.

  69. Andrea says:

    I read this last summer and had to read it again because it was so good.

    “..this is only the beginning of what will be a lifetime of decoding truth from bullshit” that line is just amazing. I wrote it on a sticky note and put it up in my kitchen. Because it really is a lifetime of checking your own thoughts, reflecting on what people are telling you, messages in the media, etc. And it can be applied to so many areas of life in addition to the mostly negative messages to women about their bodies. Such good thoughts. Thank you.

  70. Perfectly spoken truly. .

  71. JJ morales says:

    Oh my goodness. Mil Gracias. Sending to my 17 year old
    Love to you. Just loads and loads of love
    JJ

  72. Traci says:

    I loved this first time I read it and I love it again. Thanks for keeping it real and now I am going to thank my body, in it’s 40-something form, for functioning well today and everyday it has carried me (and a couple babies) along.

  73. CathyT says:

    Loved. This. Piece. Thank you!

  74. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I teach postpartum and prenatal yoga and I know that I get women in the door because they want “bikini bodies” but I pray every night that they leave simply loving their bodies. I will be sharing this with all of my mamas 🙂

  75. Hope M says:

    The photo of your daughter holding your tummy and gorgeous stretch marks made me teary. It’s like her eyes are saying, “I am grateful for this skin, this stomach, this space. this body gave me LIFE.” Thank you for writing this piece. I needed it desperately today.

  76. Madi s says:

    You are beautiful. Thank you for bringing the #powerinpostpartum !

  77. Trish says:

    I think we embrace our bodies as we embrace our passion for food! How glorious to have muffins, melons, cheese, pears, apples and buns/ham/haunches … yummy!

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