A new kind of photo-shoot is becoming popular with moms who are embracing their post-pregnancy bodies by bravely baring them for the camera.
In postpartum boudoir sessions, moms in various levels of undress take centre stage. The shoots allow women to take a break from the unglamorous daily grind of changing diapers, and reconnect with their sexuality.
Melanie Varney of Comox Valley, B.C. gave birth to three kids, including twins, within a 364-day time frame a couple years ago (she got pregnant three months after having her firstborn). She recently helped put the trend in the spotlight with her now-viral sensuous boudoir photos.
They’re definitely a departure from the pictures you may be used to seeing in your feed from new mothers (like the token image of their sleeping newborn).
The mother-of-three told her photographer, Trina Cary, there have been days where she didn’t even recognize her body in the mirror. It took her a year of postpartum to “finally let go” and “celebrate the journey” it’s been through.
“It’s hard to adapt and fall in love with your new self. Every mom knows that it was worth the struggle for the end result. But it’s still hard.”
At the end of the day, she chose to do a postpartum boudoir session to see herself the way her husband still does: “as beautiful as the day he met me.”
“It was time for me to feel the same about myself.”
‘We only have one body, we should love it’
It can be scary to put everything, stretch marks and all, on display. As proud as Cassandra Valmestad of Winnipeg is of her post-baby physique, the 26-year-old single mom has still felt bouts of insecurity creep up.
So five months ago, when her daughter Oceana was just six months old, she decided to do a boudoir shoot as a bit of a “pick-me-up.”
It left her feeling empowered.
“All women should do one,” Valmestad said.
“I think it’s a really great thing for women to see themselves in this type of light. At least for me, it’s an experience that has made me feel more confident.
“Boudoir photos are a beautiful way to make a woman feel sexy, empowered and embrace their bodies as it is. We only have one body, we should love it.”
Valmestad chose to post a couple of the photos on social media.
“I’m sure some people might have had some ‘iffy’ thoughts, but they were not voiced as I received nothing but compliments and support.”
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Varney’s viral photos have drawn some criticism.
“It’s disheartening to see other women attack my morals, body figure or parenting based on these photos. To me, they’re a beautiful form of art, between a husband and wife who love each other very much,” she told Global News.
As for the moms comparing their figure to her own, she thinks “they are really missing the whole point.”
‘An important conversation’
“I feel this shoot has started an important conversation and definitely made me feel more comfortable in my skin. I spend 99 per cent of my day caring for others, I’m glad I took the moment to have some fun with my husband and feel sexy and spontaneous.”
The boudoir session had another surprising side-effect: it boosted her husband’s body image.
“The day after the photos got sent to us he said, ‘You know, I think I might have gotten just as much out of the shoot as you did. I feel really good in these photos and looking at them makes me really happy. It’s really nice to see us through the eyes (lens) of someone else.'”
“We’ve joked that we’ll be giggling together when we are in our 70s looking back at these photos.”