Women have long had a terrible relationship with our postpartum bodies. Not only is it shocking at face value to see how our bodies have stretched and changed and held new life, but then we have outside voices telling us they’re supposed to snap back into form like a rubber band. But this is where the subgenre of photography known as postpartum boudoir can serve as both art form and healing therapy to mothers and those who love them.
Boudoir photos are by definition sexy. They are traditionally photos of people in sexy underwear or lingerie, posing in a bedroom setting and taken for the gaze of someone else, or even many someones. But that’s not necessarily the case anymore. Many women and men hire photographers for boudoir sessions entirely for themselves. And this is definitely the case for the mothers and parents, including Teen Mom 2‘s Kailyn Lowry, who sign up for postpartum boudoir.
“Postpartum boudoir is about transforming your self-image and breaking through self-sabotaging and limiting beliefs you might have formed with the new you,” photographer Marisa Leigh of Intimately Yours in Los Angeles told SheKnows.
The act of putting on glamorous makeup, doing your hair, and then stripping down to lingerie in front of a photographer may sound alien and scary to many moms in those first months postpartum. But whether they do these sessions in those early weeks or months or years later, they report that overcoming that initial hurdle of fear and vulnerability is incredibly rewarding.
“Is it easy to do? No, but does it help? Yes,” Rami Thompson of Black Lace Boudoir in Virginia told us. “Women deserve to come in and have a whole day to leave worry at the door and just get a pampering makeover. I wish more women saw the beauty in themselves. Even after birth. That strength and courage it takes to give birth is something. Instead of running from it and hiding ourselves in shame we should be able to embrace ourselves in pride. We just gave birth to a tiny human who we help make for nine months.”
So, yeah, these sessions are self-care. But they are also undeniably sexy. Which is why we are very grateful for the photographers and women who agreed to share the following photos. The women in these photos have very different bodies from each other, different bodies from the ones they had before having babies, and different bodies from the ones we’ve been shown in magazines our whole lives. Maybe when we look in the mirror we may be tempted to scrutinize our own sagging pooch, a C-section scar, deflated breasts, or stretch marks. But if we look at these photos and recognize how sexy these mothers are — not just in spite of those new features but because of them — we can begin to see ourselves in this way too.
“Taking boudoir photos tells the world you no longer give a damn, you love yourself exactly as you are, and you’re ready to celebrate all of the amazing things your body does for you every day,” Ashley Biess of Artistrie Co. in Chicago told us.
Let’s celebrate these women who did so, and then do it for ourselves.