posted in Parenting
Tiffany Burke, a mother and professional photographer,recently turned the camera on herself. And the internet took notice.
Mostly, those who saw her Instagram post, which featured a fearless shot of Burke holding her baby, appreciated her honesty and the bravery required in sharing an untouched and, according to modern society’s standards, imperfect picture of herself.
Not an easy share: This is what 70 lbs overweight looks like. This is what exclusively breastfeeding yet gaining weight looks like. This is what a working mom, with no make-up and no time for self-care looks like. This is also what my happiness looks like. What my body looks like does not determine my happiness or my success. My body is my temporary shell. My life is truly beautiful. I have given birth to 5 babies (3 of my own and 2 surrogate babies). But my body was at a “healthy” weight before getting pregnant with baby #5. My body does not look like this “because I’ve had 5 babies.” Currently, I can’t workout hardcore like I have in the past or I will lose my milk supply. I am also eating all the food because I’m just starving. Some weeks I eat so healthily, other weeks I’m downing a sleeve of Oreos and feeling giddy. I work a lot and choose my free time to be with my kids. My body can wait a bit and I’m proud to make that choice. It’s mine to make. They won’t be little much longer and I will have missed it all. My body is the home I keep. And like my home, it ebbs and it flows as the seasons of my life do. My home is sometimes messy, sometimes clean, sometimes both. Our bodies ebb and flow in the seasons of our lives. From the season of when junior high starts and we are questioning everything about our bodies, to the season of no time for self-care, or the season of IVF injections for so many years. Or weight gain from pregnancies of angel babies lost and our bodies not willing to let go just yet. The season of a divorce, or depression, eating disorders, a death, addiction or toxic relationships. So much affects our wonderful shells. We must give grace, find ways to self-love as often as we can. We must be the inner voice that we should have had growing up. Our thoughts have great power over our daily lives. Our bodies are important to love, but not so important to invest so much hate into. SO MUCH MORE MATTERS. Be healthy, be strong, make a change when you can, be you, be unafraid. Ignore the rest. It’s okay if someone thinks I’m not pretty. I’m not here on this planet to please their eyeballs. I am worth so much more and so are you. Baby Quinn agrees❤
Along with the photo, Burke shared a wise message: Her lengthy caption begins “Not an easy share: This is what 70 lbs overweight looks like. This is what exclusively breastfeeding yet gaining weight looks like. This is what a working mom, with no make-up and no time for self-care looks like. This is also what my happiness looks like. What my body looks like does not determine my happiness or my success. My body is my temporary shell. My life is truly beautiful.”
When I asked Burke, via email, what inspired her to post the picture and accompanying words, she responded:
“It was not easy to post a picture like this. But I felt it was important for other women to know they are not alone in their postpartum body journey. Especially on Instagram where women are posting these incredible pictures of their bodies bouncing back 7 days after giving birth. Those women look beautiful, and that’s amazing, but for the rest of us feeling isolated in these now strange bodies, I wanted to show that it’s okay to love yourself in this size too.”
Burke went on to divulge she’s had five babies–three of her own, and surrogate twins.
“My first baby, I was 23 years old and my body bounced right back. My second took a little longer, but I got there. The twins took even longer, but I also got there.”
Burke was 35 and in great shape when she got pregnant with her fifth, and most recent, child.
“I gained a normal amount of weight during my pregnancy, gave birth, lost some of the weight but then just started gaining,” she wrote.
Burke has a full life. She works full time, raises three children with a plan to soon add two more through foster care. She also has a rescue dog, runs three companies, a small non profit, and sits on the board for another non profit. She is a speaker, a mentor, and a consultant.
With a super busy schedule, comes a keen awareness of one’s priorities.
“At the end of the day, I don’t want to be at the gym. I want to be with my children. And because of that choice, this is what my body looks like right now. “
I asked Burke if she was surprised by the attention her post received. She was.
“I had no idea it would be shared so much and receive hundreds and hundreds of comments and messages. To be honest? It’s uncomfortable when I log in on Facebook and my body is on these news sites. I’m happy the message is out there, but it’s hard to have your flaws seen all over these blogs and news sites.”
She does a good job keeping things in perspective, though.
“I keep looking at the bigger picture: it doesn’t matter that it’s me doing this, it just needs to be done and said by someone. Women AND men needed to see images like this so we can start breaking down society standards and giving grace to changing bodies after baby. It’s okay if someone thinks I’m not pretty. I’m not here on this planet to please their eyeballs. I am worth so much more and so are you.”
And, to the commenter who said, in response to Burke’s Instagram post, “If she can’t take care of herself, how can she take care of a child?” Burke has this response:
“This post is not about encouraging self-neglect. It’s about realizing that getting back to the gym is not an emergency. If there is any kind of emergency here, it’s this: time is a thief and stealing these precious moments faster than we can remember them. And I want other women to give themselves grace, and focus on what really matters; being with your baby.”
As a boudoir photographer, who has photographed hundreds of women of all shapes and sizes, and ages without the use of Photoshop, Burke ultimately hopes to encourage body love with her words and images.
“This bonding time, between mother and baby, is the most precious time we are EVER given on this earth. It is a gift, and I don’t want to spend that gift hating the body I am in. And I want other women to give themselves grace, and focus on what really matters; being with your baby.”
How comfortable are you with your postpartum body?
All photos by Tiffany Burke
The post This is what 70 pounds overweight, and happy, looks like appeared first on BabyCenter Blog.