Model, entrepreneur and body positivity advocate Ashley Graham gave birth to twin boys in January but says that, after a traumatic birth that left her body a ‘wreck’, she struggled to rekindle the love she used to have for her body.
After Malachi and Roman arrived via an unusually quick home birth, Ashley passed out and lost a lot of blood, which left her unable to leave her bed for weeks post-birth.
‘What I went through with childbirth has reshaped my relationship with my body,’ Ashley penned in an essay for Glamour. ‘And I say this knowing that I am the person who has been shouting from the rooftops to you all, “Love the skin you’re in.” Yet for me, the births of all my three children threw a lot of that out of the window.’
Even before her traumatic birthing experience, Ashley admitted that her relationship with her body was already on the rocks thanks to the stretch marks carrying twins gave her, saying it was ‘the end of [her] body as [she] knew it’.
As stretch marks appeared on her body from week 30, Ashley wrote, ‘I thought to myself, Okay, Ashley, you can handle this. You already had a few, this is life. You are a champion for all kinds of bodies, who cares?’
She said that after her pregnancy with first child Isaac: ‘I got a few stretch marks, and I had a few really good cry sessions over the stretch marks.’ The lingerie model also admitted that, post-birth, she ‘obsessed over this 20 pounds that just wouldn’t come off.’
But, during the pregnancy of her twins, Ashley said that the stretch marks ‘started creeping up even more, and you could see them coming out of my panty line, and then beyond my belly button, and I melted… I was like, “You don’t understand. I used to be a sex symbol, and now I am a baby-making machine and I have stretch marks up to my belly button.’
Posting photos of her stretch marks to Instagram helped her to begin to find peace with her new body, but Ashley says it wasn’t entirely simple.
‘I work in an industry that expects me to return to work in a body that has “snapped back” – a pressure that no woman, in any industry, deserves to feel. I have always fought against unfair and unrealistic standards and yet, if I am being completely honest, here I was, expecting myself to snap back. And fast.’
Ashley admitted that still goes in ‘waves’ with her body confidence, and is still not entirely comfortable. But ultimately, she has learned that, ‘even as a body advocate, I’ve learned it’s okay if the journey to love the skin you’re in is more complex than you could ever have imagined.’