This past week has been quite busy and exciting, I've been lucky enough to have had a few interviews for newspapers, online media and radio in relation to my new book, 'Help! I'm a Tween-Ager - A Girl’s Guide to Puberty'. I always love being able to help others and it's exciting to get my book out there and hopefully help some Tweens who are navigating the rough waters that are puberty.
One of the questions that always seems to come up in interviews is;
"How do you keep fit and look like you do after having six babies?"
This question makes me a little uncomfortable and I feel the need to write about it and get real for a few minutes.
I've had six babies, five pregnancies, one of which was twins (not mine - for a friend) which is a little more unforgiving on the body. There is no way I came out of that unscarred and perfect. In addition to that I've also had over 20 surgical procedures due to complications after the birth of the twins and our last baby. I feel the question encourages an unwanted attitude towards weight gain during pregnancy and weight loss after baby. I want to let every single woman out there know that they are beautiful and amazing and deserve to be told exactly that, no matter what! I am not perfect nor do I claim to be and I want to get a few facts straight;
FACT 1 -
During pregnancy you put on weight! You're growing life, it's going to happen, whether you put on a little or a lot doesn't define you as a person, nor does it need to be focused on by society. Every pregnancy is different, every craving is different. I craved crushed ice with our first baby, very cheap craving indeed. I gained 35kg during my third pregnancy with our little girl, and you know what, those cinnamon doughnuts I had nearly every day were sooooo worth it! My last pregnancy I put on a grand total of 10kg and the other pregnancies were somewhere in between those two figures.
FACT 2 -
Stretch marks are a given; hips, butt, boobs, stomach and thighs, they are unforgiving and appear everywhere. Some people take the achievers approach and say they’ve earned their “tiger stripes”, some take the humorous approach and call them their “roadmap to the best parts of their body” and others just accept it is what it is and they are there. Regardless, every single one is a reminder of the miracle that are our bubs and a reminder of how lucky we are to have them.
Losing baby weight is not a race, a competition and nor should it be judged upon by society, partners, friends or family. There should be absolutely no expectation after a baby to change or get back to what you were before Bub. It’s upsetting to see how hard some women are on themselves due to the unrealistic views on baby bodies throughout the mainstream and social media. I'm so bloody glad I've had my babies already because the pressure of looking good during and after birth is insane.
As expected growing a baby is hard work and for anyone else to judge the way your body decides to do that is unacceptable.
I would also like to point out that my kids are older, my oldest is nearly 12 and youngest is 5; the kids are at school now and I can invest a little bit more time to me and my body. As most parents know, the first few years of having a Bub is all about routine, routine, routine and sometimes we just don’t fit in there for whatever reasons; we are tired, our motivation is low or we opt for a night on the couch smashing popcorn and chocolate with our partner catching up.
I'm all about inspiring women to step out of their comfort zone and achieve their goals, I don't post my photos on Instagram because I want to show the world an unrealistic view of someone after having six kids. I want to support women and promote body positivity, if you want to achieve your goals, write them down, put one foot in front of the other and take the first step, little steps in the right direction is all it takes. Build a little bit of “you time” into the daily routine.
I've worked hard to get my body to a place I'm relatively happy with; I do Pilates and I love boxing because as I’ve said more than once, “sometimes it’s just good to hit something!”. I also try to walk 5km a day, sometimes it just has to be 2.5km in the morning after the kids are at school and 2.5km in the evening once the kids are asleep. That’s how I chose to spend my “me time” and if that's not how you want to spend yours, good on you! Go do something else that truly makes you happy because that's what's important. YOU'RE IMPORTANT and you are a priority too. If you are happy, it flows through your home.
I've had my fair share of body shaming, from people who I thought were friends and from throughout the media as well. It hurts because it is not an accurate representation of me. It can come across that I am a superficial person who cares about looks over kindness and a good heart. I'm in an industry that I chose to be in, it also requires you to look the best you can. When accepting a job the first thing I do is notify the client of the fact that I have had six kids and if they put me in a bikini they may or may not need to put some money in the budget for editing too; 9 out of 10 times people have absolutely no issue with it. Why??? Because experience and work ethic hold more value and… for a print campaign that's going across the country the photos will be edited regardless. It's also amazing what lighting can do too, great photographers are masters of light manipulation. It's also my job to know what works for my body and what does not; angles, lighting and posing is a bit of a skill that takes practice and experience.
I recently did a job for a swimwear company; we did a location shoot and then we were booked to do a studio shoot the next day. Whilst on the location shoot, they told me they were sorry, but my stretchmarks and the scar on my stomach wasn't going to work for them in the studio shoot. To say I was hurt was an understatement, I've never gone into a job pretending to be perfect and I'm always up front and honest as I was with this job. All the insecurities that I've ever had with my body, the disrespect and negative comments from “friends” when I first started modelling rushed straight back into my head. I shook it off, I had to or it could consume me. My beautiful, positive circle of friends, the media and my Instagram followers don't support me because I'm perfect, no one follows my journey because they expect to see a flawless mother who's got it all together, and I wouldn't want that. I'm real, I have scars, I am a 32 year old woman and a mother of four who sometimes struggles to get through a day without losing her s*#t. One thing I am not though is delusional! I am, however, setting out to achieve my goals and I’m putting one foot in front of the other to carve myself out a career (long or short remains to be seen) in an industry that can be tough, judgemental and sometimes has unrealistic expectations.
Nonetheless change is afoot and it is happening, so slowly that we might not be able to tell until we look back on how far we have come. There are more models that are well embedded in their 30’s and beyond and that are Mums too; they are kicking absolute goals where previously they may have not been so successful. Have a go at whatever it is that makes you feel alive, happy and fulfilled. At the end of our lives we will regret the things we didn’t do or didn’t try to do more than the things that probably weren’t such a good idea. Don’t let age, whatever body shape and height you are, stretch marks and scars from babies or no babies be what stops you; if you want it, any negativity from “friends” or society shall only fuel your fire! Be kind and go forth, you can do it!