An Australian mom is being praised online for encouraging women to spend less time trying to “fix” themselves – and one another.
For mom of three Laura Mazza, it took coming across what she considered to be an unflattering photo to finally accept herself and her body.
In a post from her blog, The Mum on the Run, Mazza said she became angry with her husband after he snapped a photo of her in her bathing suit, without her knowledge.
“I saw this photo in my husbands phone, and I said ‘Why the hell would you take a photo of me at that angle?'” she wrote. “I became so self conscious. But why?”
“It reminded me when I took a photo of me and my newborn son and someone asked me if I wanted to try a scrub that got rid of acne scars and a cream that rid me of dark lines under the eyes – I had been in labour for 14 hours,” said Mazza. “But it made me feel bad about myself, even though I was feeling euphoric.”
For Mazza, these seemingly helpful suggestions women give to one another help perpetuate the belief that women can’t be happy unless they look ‘perfect.’
“I also once had a girl tell me quietly that my dress would look better if I had some Spanx on,” Mazza recalled. “I had a cesarean three months prior to that. I loved the way I looked in that dress.”
The blogger noted that often times, women have been so conditioned to want to improve themselves that they misinterpret situations as an opportunity to help other women do the same.
“I asked a Facebook group about the best physio for muscle separation and was bombarded with sales for stomach wraps,” Mazza said. “I asked a friend to help me find bathers and she said ‘Right, straight to the plus size section – they have the best tummy control.'”
Mazza pointed out that women often don’t notice they’re projecting the need to perfection onto one another – and that jumping towards criticism is a product of the cultural environment they’ve been raised in.
“All of these were women. I don’t blame them. I’m not angry. This is what society has taught them, this is what cultural pressures have led them to believe and so much so, that they feel it’s OK to say it to their fellow sisters as if it’s helping us,” she explained. “It’s hammered into us, you give birth. You bounce back. You don’t? And you’re lazy. You’re not trying hard enough.”
Changing bodies, she added, is part and parcel to growing older — especially for those who have children. However, Mazza does well to point out that the “justifying” of changing bodies seems to come from a place of shame.
“You have to justify yourself to everyone of why your body has changed so much… but the reality is, it’s because you had a fucking baby. Why is that so shameful?” she asked. “I have cellulite. So does most of the population. We all have uteruses, and organs and some of us have evidence of a place where a baby once lived, and that’s why our bellies are the way they are.”
For Mazza, reframing the way women speak to one another starts when they change the way they speak to themselves.
“Imagine if we just spent time appreciating all that we can do, the amazing life creating vessels that we are, instead of trying to scrub, wrap, and hide all that we have done?” she wrote. “Body confidence starts within, but our surroundings are responsible for it too.”
Although her initial reaction came from a place of insecurity, Mazza’s opinion changed quickly once she spoke to her husband, who said he took the photo because he simply thought she looked happy.
“That’s all he saw, not my cellulite, not my imperfections,” she wrote . “He saw a happy wife enjoying a moment, and he was right. I was happy. I am happy, That’s all that matters.”