A few years ago, Alberta photographers Aimee and Jenna Hobbs noticed a worrisome trend during photo shoots. A growing number of mothers asked to be absent from their own family portraits.
“They didn’t even want to be commemorated,” Aimee Hobbs said, holding back tears.
“They didn’t even want to be commemorated in photos with their kids because they would do it when they were lighter, or thinner or had done their hair.”
It was enough to prompt Aimee and Jenna to launch a social media photo campaign showcasing mothers – the kind that don’t model underwear on the catwalk five weeks after giving birth.
Now in its fourth year, “A Mother’s Beauty” features raw, intimate photos of women holding their babies, breastfeeding and playing with their children. The portraits capture the joy of motherhood and also the reality of post-baby bodies like stretch marks, scars and cellulite.
The photographers aim to stake a claim in an online space full of models, celebrities and athletes glorified for dropping baby weight in record time.
“The portrayal of women in media is all about getting your body back,” Aimee said.
“Getting your body back to what? You’ve just gone through an enormous life-changing event. You just housed a human being. You have someone who is going to be in your life forever and has changed who you are in every facet. So this concept of getting your body back is just ridiculous to me.”
Jenna adds that by putting the photos of what average women look like postpartum on social media, other mothers feel less alone.
That’s exactly how mother-of-two Amanda Farkash felt as she scrolled through the portraits late one night while nursing her daughter.
“I saw the pictures and I remember sitting on the couch…just completely bawling, reading the stories of these ladies,” Farkash said.
“It just spoke to me.”
After spending her entire life combating body issues, Kailin Kolasa jumped at the chance to model for the project as a way to celebrate her postpartum body.
“It was when I was pregnant that I actually found appreciation and admiration for my own body,” Kolasa said. “I wanted to show my daughter it’s okay to be a strong woman. It’s okay to love yourself even if you have curves, lumps, bumps, stretch marks, rolls, whatever it is. You are enough. You are okay as you are and screw what society says.”
The photographers have captured about 80 mothers from 21 years old to women in their late 50s for A Mother’s Beauty. They want to branch out even more in the future and are considering doing winter sessions starting next season.
“We want to photograph all moms,” Jenna said. “We want to photograph old moms, young moms…give me grandmas in their undies!”
Watch below: Frustrated by social media messages about women’s bodies after they give birth, a pair of photographers in Alberta embarked on a unique project aimed at showing real women post-partum and spreading the images on social media.