Body Image Issues

Updated on June 19, 2008
C.D. asks from Hesperia, CA
10 answers

Ok, so this is a really hard question to ask. In 20 months I had 3 kids. With my twins I gained 85lbs and weighed 235, then before I had even got that weight off I was pregnant again. With my son I gained 50, and went to 220. I have lost all the weight now and am down to 145, which is smaller then I was when I got pregnant the first time. However when I look at my body I am disgusted. I have really bad (people gasp if they see them) strech marks and my stomach caves in the middle, my boobs are at my waist, and I feel like I have just fallen apart. My husband is wonderful, he has NEVER made me feel insecure about any of this. It does affect us, because I dont want him to see me naked. I want to feel confident in my skin, these are the scars from carrying and feeding my babies, I want to be ok with them. I do want a tummy tuck... one day. What I want to know is how do I get to a place where I can stand in front of a mirror naked and not cringe in horror. I need to make this change for me and to help raise kids with good self esteem, I just dont know where to start. Thanks

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answers from Los Angeles on

OMG - I feel the same way! I had two kids within 12 months of each other. I used to weigh 202, then I lost 62 lbs and got to 140 before I was pregnant. After losing so much, I vowed I wouldn't gain it back with kids. Then my first baby - I gained a TON and weighed 187 after delivery. I started to lose weight only to find out I was pregant again. With my 2nd I didn't gain any - but my skin still stretched out. So, after two kids, I ended up weighing 187 after (gaining 47 lbs that I swore I wouldn't gain). I started back on Weight Watchers and am now back to 148 (my youngest is 10 months old). I wanted to be back to 140 by the time he was a year old. My skin looks awful. :( It's all saggy and loose. I have looked into a tummy tuck, to get rid of the extra skin. Like you, my husband never EVER says or does anything to make me feel bad.... it's myself. I am struggling with embracing the Mommy-Body and trying to get back to my pre-babyness. It's hard to feel sexy when you are spit up on everyday! Even though I have lost 40lbs... I still feel icky about my body. I'd love to email/chat with you more if you would like... my email address is love2teach4th at yahoo.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I know its so hard to see your body change, especially when you are still young. I recently had my second baby in September, and I have to say it is normal to feel that way after pregnancy and giving birth.
Make sure you eat right and find an excersise program that works for you. I use a dvd of ballet to get back into shape. Sit ups are a great way to get your stomache muscles in tact.
Just remember its just for a season, and it takes a full year to recover from pregnancy.
I have stretch marks as well, and I hate them. Stivectin is expensive but cheaper than laser treatments that don't fully work. You can buy it at Target or Costco for a little over a hundred dollars. It really lightens and minmizes stretch marks.
You sound like a very loving and dedicated mom, so continue to work on you on the inside, and your hubby will continue to adore you. A happy woman is an atractive woman!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Hey C. D,
First of all, my congrats to you on surviving twins and another soon after. I am a survivor as well! :) I have twins (boy/girl) that are now 7 1/2. and my youngest (boy) is nearly 6. I'm 38 years old. You need to know that it does get easier every year. I am so happy that you have a supportive husband. Know that it can/will be trying on your relationship. Unfortunately my marriage didn't survive, other problems more than pressure of kids.

Annyway, congrats as well on losing the weight! I remember wondering if I would ever not loathe my saggy body and I can honestly say I do not anymore. I weigh about the same as you and am currently practicing yoga regularly. I swear by it. It has toned me better than any weigthlifting I've tried in the past. It is even lifting my ever-so-sagging breasts that I thought were beyong help. :) Anyway, I can recommend some good DVDs for a home practice (Rodney Ye and Suzanne Deason are my favorites) and when your life gets easier I teach six days a week in the mornings out of a studio in my home. For now, try to go to a gymn for your sanity. The babysitting at 24 hour fitness is great. Anyway, my hats off to you. Hold your head up high. And when the 5000th person says to you, "My, your hands are full!" smile and think, "better full than empty." It was my mantra -- even on the hardest days. Hugs, C.

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answers from Los Angeles on

"Body image issues" is what we've got here. (and good for you for identifying exactly that!) Your age is such a plus here - your young skin has lots and lots of elasticity and can recover very nicely from its child carrying role.

That name brand gym franchise CURVES may help you out here. A dear friend of mine lost 50 pounds in one year, with careful eating, walking, etc. but had many of the same issues (sag, etc) that you have. The second year, doing the Curves routine (targeted and regimented and short - I think it's in half an hour increments) she lost only 8 pounds, but an impressive 26 inches! It was exactly what she needed in terms of morale when she stepped in front of a mirror.

Perhaps your husband can help you schedule in some YOU time to work on this small, specific thing (and in the cosmic scheme of things, it is small)

I hope that this helps. If not Curves, You might check out some other specifically targeted workouts/routines. Input here from others, please! Consistent efforts will show results in a couple of months, really it will. You may need only a teeny-tiney-tummy-tuck one day. . . .

and by the way - WOW. 3 children in 20 months - I'm intimidated by just the thought (I've got my hands & head full with one 3 year old)! all the best to you & your family -



answers from Los Angeles on

Hello C.,
Well I have to admit you have evolved to what every mother in America feels like, its so dishartening to know that you have these beautiful children and your so young even too young to look like you do. At least that is what you feel remember that you are your worst critic, but I do have some advice. Do you go to the gym? If not this is what I did, I felt so embarrased to even take off my cloths but never let my kids sense that ( because then they will get body image issues ) I got the DVD exercise videos like Turbo Jam is so much fun and it works I would put the kids down for there nap and rock out you do not even know that your exercising. And then when the body parts started to firm up just a little I felt more confortable, I also use Avon creams like there butt fixing, stretch mark cream and all the other lines if you put it on before you work out you get a tingling feeling because it helps with the burning of your fat. It also helps with the appearance of the stretch marks, they will not go away completly but will make you feel a little better about yourself. I wanted to feel better about myself before I went and did any nips and tucks and after 4 years of working out and doing whatever it takes to get exercise in at least 4 times a week I am back in my bikini with a flat stomach and when my body is tanned it looks so much better. I ended up getting a breast augmentation and could not be happier I am fully content with how I look. Believe me when I say that exercise does the trick it actaully makes the stretch marks less visible. You will find the inner beauty and self worth you just have to work on it yourself, no one can do it for you. Remember that you are beautiful and are probably reading more into peoples comments than you think people will only say what they think you want to hear, its all in the vibe if you say "look at how terrible these stretch marks look", someone is going to look at you like well she wants us to say no and is seeking for a compliment. Your job from today on KNOW that your not that bad and people think you are beautiful let them know that you think it too ( without being too over the top) if you walk around with self confidence I gaurantee you will see the rewards. Keep standing tall it will all pay out in the end.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hello C.,
Well first of all, let me congratulate you on the birth of the twins and your son. The birth of the children alone is truly a blessing from God. Just think, there are many women who want to have children and wouldn't mind the 'aftermath' of the childbirth. I do know how you feel. I have to say you've already done a tremendous job with the weight loss you've already accomplished. It is very hard to lose weight after one childbirth, let alone two or even three for that matter. I know, I have a 9 year old and honestly haven't been motivated enough to lose the weight. Be thankful you have a husband who is supportive of you and your children. If you can, talk with your husband and let him know how you feel about yourself so that he doesn't think you are rejecting him because of something you may not be comfortable with regarding him. I would suggest treating yourself to a spa day, or continue to work out. It is true, after significant weight loss the body goes through alot. Just think, you've been quite busy the last 20 months, so your body is still adjusting to everything. If you do opt to have surgery, I would suggest visiting a few doctors before making your final decision if you are seriously not happy with your appearance. I am sort of against surgery, but then again, I am all about making yourself feel confident in yourself. Wake up every morning and thank God for your husband and your children and always treat yourself to something. Whether it be a manicure, pedicure, a new scarf or a new handbag, treating yourself to something may help you build more confidece in yourself. Continue to work out. And if you do decide that surgery is the way to go, be careful, because remember, your body has already been through alot, and to put it through something else may not be so healthy. Also, talking with friends and family always helps. Maybe they too can offer any suggestions.



answers from San Diego on

Hi C.,

First of all....congratulations on your latest baby! Wow...that's a lot of activity and physical stress your body has endured. Also, I am in awe that you got so tiny and lost your baby weight...that in itself is amazing! You should be so proud of yourself. Even if you hadn't lost the baby weight, you should feel so accomplished and lucky to have such a supportive husband and healthy babies. I feel you on the body image concerns. I too, am struggling with the same issues.

I had my first baby last February and I am still not in 'that place' emotionally where I feel sexy, or even like how my post-baby body looks. I feel downright depressed some days when I see a picture of myself before and look at myself now. (I lost the 28 lbs. of pregnancy weight, but I am stuck in a weight loss rut, have fat in new places and have major saggy/smaller breasts from nursing). I think in general, women have a decrease in self-esteem and body image after birth/pregnancy. It is sad, but true.

All I can say is, we as women need to not only accept our new bodies, but also be realistic about what they have gone through. Pregnancy and childbirth is really hard on our bodies and unless we are celebrities, or have millions in the bank, we can't expect to "bounce" back from a pregnancy in a matter of weeks and be pre-baby perfect, or look like many of the celebrities and their idealized images we are bombarded with. Real women, have real bodies...that is my line of logic when I have my 'bad days.'

In your case, you have carried and birthed THREE little babies in under a two year period. Give yourself a break. If you need to get cosmetic surgery to fix your scars/excess skin, I say go for it. You need to be happy and confident to be a good mom. If that means doing it spiritually, or with the help of a is your journey and decision.

Best of luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi there,
I know that you posted this a while ago, but I thought I would respond. I would say just go for the surgery! :) You can't fix saggy boobs and stretch marks any other way. Going to the gym won't fix those and I don't think that there is anything wrong with getting your body back to how is was before kids. You can't help what happened to your body. I have 2 kids now and I am for sure getting a boob job when we are done! I deserve it after years of breastfeeding!!
I love to hear that your hubby loves you the way you are. That's great! He may not be too supportive of surgery, but after he sees your new confidence I am sure he will have no complaints.
Good luck!



answers from Seattle on

I had 5 babies in 8 years. Having a spouse that loves me for who I am as I fluctuate from recovered to giving birth helps a lot. He sees through the deception of the media. Did you know 90% of the women in the sex-trade industry are incest survivors? They suffer from horrible drug and eating disorders. (The other 10% get stuck in that world because of drug addiction.)

Wise men know not to touch that corrupt world. We as women have to be very careful to not worship that image as well. What do we worship then?

Having a tight hold on truth helps me a lot.

I am including a link to a video that Dove put together.

They had a lady with the same plain face we all wake up with, some blemishes and a normal, everyday body shape experience the metamorphasis, if you will, that media models go through.

Watch and be amazed:

"What I want to know is how do I get to a place where I can stand in front of a mirror naked and not cringe in horror."

It might be important to ask yourself what you are comparing yourself to? What do you see there? What are your personal requirements for loving yourself, for liking yourself? Do you see your heart and courage and commitment when you look at yourself in the mirror? Do you see your best friend smiling back or a monster, or perhaps, an enemy? Does your husband esteem you as a best friend that is worth giving his entire commitment to both physically and mentally? Does he value or know the protecting power that has in marriage yet?

This is a little on the spiritual side, but have you ever read Isaiah 3:16-26 in the Old Testament? It is a section of scripture given through the prophet Isaiah regarding women and the physical changes they go through. It describes how their youth fades away and their confidence in physical things become inaccessible. It also points out God's purpose for this happening to them; that they might find the Lord, who our courage and confidence need to be in for true happiness. That is what I percieved when I read that chapter.

I cannot even begin to fathome crossing the bridge from girl to woman without having support and counsel like that to help me gain a foothold. Proverbs 31:10-31 is also worth its weight in gold. I base my worth in the list given in Proverbs if I ever feel lost and have put mirrors away in comparison.

In every old woman there is a young lady who feels like she has lived a full long life, who has gained knowledge and insight, but hasn't really felt like she has aged much.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi C.!
First of all, kudos to you for losing your pregnancy weight. I know how hard it can be to lose the weight. I'm still trying to lose the last of mine. And even though all my friends prepped me for what was to happen when I was pregnant with my first child (I have two children) with regard to what can happen during pregnancy and delivery no one really told me that my body wouldn't be the same afterwards. So, it has been a struggle to maintain a healthy outlook regarding my body image especially living in Orange County. I have to remind myself that it's not what is seen on the outside that's the most important. Although, at times, that doesn't work all the time. =) But because I have a daughter, I want to also give her the tools to have a high self-esteem and set an example for her to follow.
For me, I feel my best and most confident about myself regardless of how I look like is when I work out, get some exercise and eat right. That doesn't mean that by doing that my stretch marks on my waist and stomach goes away or my little pregnancy pouch that I have disappears. I figure I need to work with what I've got now. God blessed me with this body and its ability to create life. My body has changed as a result of it. There's so many women out there that aren't able to and a few that I personally know. And that's what humbles me and puts things into perspective. So, if I work out and eat right whatever is a result of my hard work is something I should be proud of.
I know it's a journey to accept how you look like now and I'm sure you'll have good days and bad days. Hopefully, in time there will be more good days than bad days. But what you look like now isn't permanent. You can change things through diet and exercise and, even, surgery. And also know that you are not alone and that a lot of mothers out there are in the same boat. Good luck!

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