Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The True Beauty of Motherhood

A big thank you to Women in the Scriptures for sharing the link to Beauty Redefined, a project seeking to help women discard society's myths about beauty and focus on recognizing that true beauty is more than skin deep. They are preparing to launch a billboard campaign in Salt Lake City. I haven't been to Salt Lake in a while, but apparently, there are a lot of billboards advertising plastic surgery these days, and those plastic surgery businesses are very successful. So successful, in fact, that Forbes classifies Salt Lake City as the "vainest city in the nation." In Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Salt Lake City is Vainest of them All?, Beauty Redefined discusses one plastic surgeon's explanation:
One SLC plastic surgeon, Dr. Brian Brzowski, told hypervocal.com he believes the intense interest in breast implants can be attributed to both the fact that women have babies at a younger age than the rest of the nation and that Utah women lead an active lifestyle. “A thinner, fitter populace tends to have less breast fullness. This can complicate clothing choices and make fitting into swimsuits and the use of padded bras more of a reality,” he says.

While his point about young mothers is very accurate, the latter point about the thinner, fitter populace and their troublesome small chests is a bit off the mark, in our opinion. Sure, it might be true that a fitness-oriented population might not have as much ”breast fulness” as the rest of the population, but the assumed “complicat[ions]” of that fact are what’s bothersome. Women shouldn’t need to “fit into” swimmingsuits – swimmingsuits should fit THEM. And why the use of padded bras? Why the unquestioned, unchallenged pressure to visually enhance the parts that have likely been instrumental in nourishing the babies they’re so proud of? Why is the appearance of breasts such a dominant concern?
(And no, the emphasis is not mine, it is bolded in the original, though I wholeheartedly agree with the emphasis.) I could write a lot about this topic, but I want to expand on something briefly touched on here--the focus on appearance over function. I believe that a very large part of true feminine "positive body image" involves appreciating not the way the female body appears to the world, but all of the wonderful things the female body can do.

My breasts may not be up to some ridiculously unrealistic standard of "beauty," but I appreciate them for comforting and exclusively feeding my two children for six months each, being their primary source of nutrition for six additional months, and continuing to be a source of supplemental nutrition and comfort for a few months further. Breasts that can nourish children are, no matter the size or shape, far more beautiful than the perkiest, silicone-filled, sex objects on the market. Breasts are beautiful because of what they do.

My own husband was once trying to explain how I was still "sexy" to him when pregnant. But in the course of explaining, he discovered that it wasn't really "sexiness" but actually real beauty. Even though at the time I did not have the same body I have while not pregnant, which he is very attracted to, I was beautiful to him in a different way. It was beautiful to him that I was carrying his child--the beauty of true love manifested in physical form, the beauty of motherhood. The beauty of me as "pregnant wife" is more than the outward appearance. It stems from my husband's deep love for me and appreciation of who I am--his wife and the mother of his children, which, during pregnancy, happens to be obvious in my physical appearance.

This conversation shows me a lot about what true beauty really means. True beauty may sometimes be visible on the outside, but usually not in ways that society recognizes as beautiful, with our distorted, unrealistic images of what a beautiful woman is. True beauty is who you are.
"[F]or the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)


  1. I love the message they are promoting. I saw on their Facebook that they out a sticky note on a victoria's secret poster. I honestly think the women in this world are a huge target, but if we speak up we're prudes or closed minded... I wish people would stop trying to close my mind with comments like that and let me disagree with the media's interpretation of what women are.

  2. I love this post. You are such a great writer! I am so glad I found your blog.

  3. I agree! It is so hard to keep a hold of that thought process though. How do we hold on to loving our bodies for what they do instead of for how they look to other people? My chest is TINY now that I have had three kids. It is so sad to me. My husband doesn't care one bit, but it is still kind of embarrassing for me. Thanks for the reminder. It is good to know that there are women out there who are in the same spot and who feel the same way!
    Grow Happy Babies