What a Difference a Year Makes

Last October, my husband and I took a dream vacation to Europe. We’d spent years saving up and planning the stops we’d make because we knew it might be the last adventure for a while.

We indulged in everything we could, from pizza to gelato and from wine to beer. I loved every single bite and sip and can still taste those flavors if I close my eyes.

Not only did we eat, drink and act merry, we walked. And hiked. And walked some more. I’d spent the months before our trip in the gym and on the road, trying to get in the best shape possible so I could soak up every moment in Europe seeing things and not huffing and puffing on the sidewalk. I made it up and down Cinque Terre’s hilly towns barely breaking a sweat and hauled luggage all over Italy.

I took picture after picture — more than 900 in less than two weeks. I wanted to be able to look back in the years to come and to remember how much fun we’d had.

What I saw, one year ago, was how big I looked in those shots. I went straight to my love handles and wide arms and indulged in a lot of negative self-talk. I didn’t see the colors or the monuments…I didn’t see how big our smiles were…I just saw my flaws.

I even cropped some of the pictures to try and hide what made me unhappy.

That was last October 17th. This October 25th, we took pictures of our brand new family of three. I was just 12 days post-partum, well above my pre-baby weight and certainly above my ideal weight. I had not worked out in weeks, was not sleeping much and was probably at my lowest level of fitness in years.

The difference? When I got these pictures from our photographer, I looked straight at my daughter. Then at my smile. Then at my husband’s smile. Then at how happy and perfect we looked. Then at how small she was. I thought about the dreams I have for her and for us. I thought about how I hope she never looks at a picture and picks out her flaws. I thought about how malleable she is and how it will be up to me to instill confidence in her, for both her inner and outer beauty.

And finally — last of all — I saw my belly. Still squishy from carrying my baby for 41 weeks and battered from a 24-hour labor and delivery. And I thought about how beautiful and strong I feel. Not ashamed or self-conscious. Not afraid to share the pictures with the world.

I will never stop working to have the strongest, most fit body I can. It’s what will keep me alive and active for years to come, and I plan on sticking around to meet my grandchildren. I will never stop setting goals and being disappointed when I fall short. I will probably never stop seeing the parts of my body that are less than ideal. But I will stop rewriting history in pictures, as much as I can.

My daughter should know that happiness does not lie in how we look or what our weight is. She should never feel compelled to crop a picture to hide herself. I’m going to work every day to show her how amazing she is.

Comments

  1. 6

    says

    I looked at the pictures of you post-delivery and thought, “man, I hope I look that good only a week after giving birth!” But I know what you mean. Scary to be raising a daughter in this cultural climate where there’s so much emphasis on outward appearance.

  2. 9

    says

    This is one of the most beautiful posts I’ve read in a long time. It makes you wonder, if we all took the time to set that kind of example for all young people in our lives, if we might be able to make a bigger difference than we realize.

  3. 11

    says

    It’s funny how your perception changes, right? Having kids has been amazing for my self-image and self-esteem. Will I ever be as thin and well rested before I had my babies? Nope. Does it matter? Nope? Love the pictures… I’m just so happy for you guys :)

  4. 12

    says

    Beautiful! I was seven days pp when we took our newborn/family shots, and I feel the same way. The difference in perspective is amazing. You look beautiful!

  5. 15

    says

    This is such a great post. It’s so sad to see girls being so focused on achieving the perfect body and maintaing their ideal weight. To be honest, I am sometimes way too critical with how look and hate having pictures taken of myself but your post reminded me that there are more important things in life. You look beautiful in every single picture and your baby girl is adorable.

  6. 16

    says

    Your family is gorgeous!! Thanks for sharing these pictures :) I am way too critical of the way I look and have often wondered if I’d be able to change that for a child. I would never want to pass that negativity on to my daughter. Good job!!

  7. 17

    says

    Katy! You look beautiful!

    I understand how easy it is to get down on yourself. We have all been there. But I love that your perspective has changed and you recognize what is important.

    Keep that outlook and teach share it with your daughter :)

  8. 19

    says

    Beautiful! We are our own worst critics (always) but how freeing to realize how amazing you (the royal you!) are. As a mom to girls I have always been VERY conscious of not talking about my own body issues around them. Culture gets ‘em anyway though! You look completely amazing in all the photos,but what’s really important is that you ARE amazing! (and I need to stop using that one word all the time!)

  9. 21

    says

    What an amazing post. I always noticed your smile in your Italy picture – it looks so genuine! You do look like a very happy family and she is soooo precious!

  10. 24

    says

    Beautiful post and I can only hope and pray that when the time comes for me I will feel the same. You look beautiful in the pics, radiating happiness! People underestimated the power of happiness when it comes to your outer glow :)

  11. 27

    says

    What a chunky monkey! Love that face.
    My first thought when I saw the picture: Man, Katy’s hair looks GOOD. haha
    Michelle says the same thing to me all the time. That having kids changed her perception of everything. Things you once thought were important aren’t anymore. I wish we could all get that perception – even without having the kids.

  12. 30

    laura says

    wow, what an inspiring and beautiful post! It’s amazing what the beauty of having a child can do to your self esteem! I am yet to have children, but know when I do, I won’t get so hung up on my pooch or missing a workout because I will have a beautiful baby to focus my attention on. I am so ready to have another source of focus, and not be so worried about myself. Thank you for sharing.

  13. 34

    says

    Thank you for this post. I appreciate the honesty. I’m not a mother and I don’t plan on being any time soon but I hope I can be on the same path to self confidence as you.
    I just got back from a two week trip to China, where I spent every day walking, climbing, biking and every other activity under the sun. Like you, as soon as I got back, all I could see in the pictures was my thighs and every other imperfection I could pick out about myself.
    Thanks for helping me look beyond the flaws and see the beauty of a great experience.

  14. 35

    says

    My only confusion is that you don’t even have a noticeable stomach in these photos… You look amazing!

    Although I’m super excited when any person is completely confident in their own photos. I’m not completely there yet, and I find it so refreshing.

  15. 37

    says

    I just had a baby on 10-25-12 and I’m pretty sure I could have written this post myself, except you said it all better than I could have. I hope my daughter grows up to be proud of her body and who she is, and I hope I’m able to instill confidence in her.

  16. 43

    KatyB says

    Katy you speak such truth and I can relate to every word. Thank you for posting this. Know that through the good and the bad I have always thought you were beautiful.

  17. 45

    says

    such a beautiful post, katy. i applaud you for your honesty and the dreams of self-love that you have for your baby girl. she is going to grow up in such a loving environment and will know that love and turn it towards herself :) thanks to you and your hubby! i have been in that photo cropping place too. it stinks when something amazing like a trip to europe is overshadowed by insecurity. i have let my own doubts about myself get in the way of many an important moment with a loved one. i’ll keep this post in mind next time i’m tempted to do so. thank you!

  18. 47

    says

    LOVE this. So true. I’ve been self-conscious and critical of my body since I was nine. NINE. Much therapy has ensued, but nothing has helped me make peace with me and my skin than pregnancy and motherhood. It always blows me away that I can feel more confident and sexier at 36 after having a baby than I did in my twenties, but I’ll take it! The feeling of beauty comes with learning just how strong and powerful and worthy of love my body is. Thank you for sharing!

  19. 50

    says

    Beautiful! My body doesn’t look exactly the way it did before I had two babies, but I am so much more confident and IN LOVE with my body than I ever was before. Motherhood has improved my life in so many ways. You and your family are gorgeous and I don’t think anyone is judging the mother’s body in newborn pics…everyone is looking at the baby! :)

    • 51

      says

      Thank you Kelly — you are so sweet! Every day I am more proud of what my body did, especially as I watch Audrey grow (and see my biceps get bigger from carrying her around!).

  20. 52

    says

    This post has me in tears. I went (and still go) through this mental battle between how I used to look and how I think I should look and how I actually look…
    I wrote a post back in August about it, it was hard to write and even harder to post. Like you, I clicked publish and walked away. That one post is, by far, my most popular post. It appears that you and I are not the only ones with these issues…
    (This is not intended as self-promotion, if you’d like to read my terrifying post: http://riserunmomrepeat.blogspot.com/2012/08/thankful-thursday-stretchmarks.html)

    • 53

      says

      Thank you SO much for your comment…it’s still scary to know that this is out there but it’s also a weight lifted. I’ve been trying to really practice what I preach, so I’m in pictures with my daughter and she knows how much I wanted to be a good role model!

  21. 54

    Heather says

    Was just reading around your blog catching up on things when I came across this. What a beautiful post! I totally relate. xo

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