Photo: Alexis Alvich
Disclaimer: Alexis Rodriguez is the Executive Director of Public Relations for Bobbi Brown Cosmetics
Two months ago, I gave birth to a baby boy. I’m madly in love with my son and feel blessed that I was able to have a child and that he is healthy. I know how lucky I am, but I have to admit that I resent what pregnancy has done to my body. I understand that the stretch marks, scars and baby weight are badges of honor, but it doesn’t really change how I feel. Personally, I no longer feel pretty. In fact, I’ve never felt less pretty than I do right now. I’m not happy with how my body looks. I’m embarrassed to be naked in front of my husband. I’m afraid I won’t lose the baby weight and that the scars and stretch marks will never fade. I’ve lost my sexy and I’m scared I won’t get it back.
I share these thoughts at the risk of coming off as superficial, because I know that I’m not alone. In speaking with other new moms, I’ve learned that so many of them share the same feelings and concerns, but don’t want to admit them out loud for fear of being judged, or simply because it’s embarrassing or depressing to talk about.
Therein lies the problem. Why should a woman be made to feel bad about wanting to feel good about herself? I’m not upset about how I look more than I’m upset about how I feel I look. The truth is, in gaining a beautiful baby boy, I simultaneously lost a bit of confidence when I saw what the aftermath of pregnancy did to my body. Friends warned me that my body would change, but nobody told me just how much, or that most of those changes would be for the worse. I thought I’d get to keep the glowing skin, thick hair, and sexy cleavage, I had during pregnancy. I was confident that the baby weight would melt off with breastfeeding. Instead, I couldn’t breastfeed, so I’m holding on to those extra pounds. I can’t exercise them away because I’m not cleared to work out just yet. I have a neck covered in skin tags. I have stretch marks the width of my stomach that my derm said will never completely disappear. My feet are a full size bigger. I need to resize my wedding band because my fingers got fatter, too. Part of my summer wardrobe is a splint (aka girdle) that I have to wear 24/7. It helps correct a condition called Diastasis Recti, also known as “Mummy Tummy,” as my abdominal walls separated during pregnancy after carrying a very large baby. To maintain a shred of dignity, I won’t even go into the countless gross and uncomfortable things that we new moms have to deal with in places we never thought we’d ever focus so much attention. Just know that the list goes on.
I know it could all be worse and that I am blessed to have this wonderful baby boy. But on top of the other challenges that come with being a new mom, I never expected beauty, or lack thereof, to take such a toll on me. Having been a beauty publicist for more than 14 years, I’ve seen firsthand on several occasions how beauty is so greatly linked to confidence. I’ve also witnessed beauty’s power to transform and heal others. The little things I can do for myself now, like get my hair colored or treat myself to a manicure, are an instant boost to my self-esteem. A little bit of concealer, mascara and lip gloss goes a long way to make me feel pulled together after countless sleepless nights. Beauty is powerful.
I work for a brand that celebrates a woman’s natural beauty, and I, too, truly believe that women should be empowered beyond superficial beauty. But dealing with unfamiliarity when I look in the mirror took me by surprise, leaving me uncomfortable—for the moment—in my own skin. I’m sure that, in time, I will slowly start to feel like a semblance of myself. I know that it hasn’t been that long since I gave birth and that you can’t completely reverse 9 months of pregnancy and traces of childbirth in only 8 weeks. I know some things will go back to the way they were, and some things just won’t. So, for now, I’ll let my makeup work its magic until I get my sexy back and focus, instead, on the true beauty in my life…my son.