Why real women really are the most beautiful

PUBLISHED: 12:13 18 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:32 18 October 2017

The mums baring almost all photoshoot with photographer Jess Wilkins.

The mums baring almost all photoshoot with photographer Jess Wilkins.


Can you imagine being photographed in just your swimming costume, wobbly bits and all? Jo Malone reports on a photoshoot with a difference, celebrating wonderful mums of all shapes and sizes

A group of mums have bared all in a swimwear photo shoot to celebrate rather than hide the differences pregnancy makes to their bodies.

They range from a woman who gained seven stone during her pregnancies and took ten years to muster the courage to get fit to the fitness trainer who feels her body doesn’t fit her expected image.

They were inspired by the Body Stories photo shoot when nine of the panellists from TVs Loose Women stripped to their swimming costumes and revealed the results, by photographer Bryan Adams, with no filters or clever picture editing.

A group of celebrity men have since followed the bare-almost-all trend to show that we come in all shapes and sizes.

The local mums, from Norwich, were organised by Debbie Bagley from BabyFit, who specialises in pregnancy and postnatal health, fitness and wellbeing classes in and around the city.

She said she wanted to reassure women - and everyone - that the majority of mums do not bounce back into shape within a few weeks of giving birth.

“This shoot was about accepting that pregnancy will change you inside and out.

“There are significant changes - and people never think that those will happen to them,” she said. She added that few people expected to get stretch marks, cellulite and wobbly bits which refuse to firm up again and their expectations were not helped by seeing pictures of celebrities looking amazing.

“If their bodies don’t bounce back some women are so depressed and disappointed,” she said, wanting to show that the majority of us will have post pregnancy bodies that are different from our pre pregnancy bodies.

Debbie asked friends and fellow mums, personal trainer Anna Jacob from Keeping it Real, and newborn and children’s photographer, Jess Wilkins, to help but convincing other mums to join in an airbrush-free shoot in their swimwear wasn’t easy.

“Some people did say there was no way they were showing their bodies off,” said Debbie, who thinks about 50 women said no, while others said yes but couldn’t make the photoshoot. She was delighted to welcome 17 mums, in their swimwear.

Hayley Sendall, who did her first BabyFit class five years ago when she was pregnant with her daughter, said she was glad she did it: “I was really apprehensive at first but absolutely believed in the message Debbie wanted to deliver. It was a truly uplifting morning, spent with amazing mums.”

Bianca Richardson, from Sprowston, added: “My initial reaction to the shoot was ‘No way!’ I gained over seven stone during my three pregnancies and became a typical yo-yo dieter.

“I am carer to my three children, who all have special needs, and it took me 10 years to get into the right frame of mind. Through healthy eating and joining a gym I lost the seven stone. I am never going to be what social media thinks a woman should look like but I am me, wobbly bits and all.”

Debbie says everyone was nervous at the start of the shoot but they were smiling by the end.

“I have two daughters but I have been pregnant six times and my body has changed as a result,” she said, adding that she didn’t feel she fitted the stereotypical fitness instructor’s body shape

“It was lovely to watch and be a part of myself, especially as people are often shocked to hear I still have diastasis, separated abdominal muscles caused by the pressure of pregnancy, and see that my bum and thighs have cellulite.”

Nichola Joyce, from Thorpe Ends added: “Since having twins my weight has fluctuated. I have always disliked my body, so much so that I even avoid spa days with friends. I agreed to the shoot as I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to show my children that a perfect body can come in all shapes and sizes. Since the shoot I do believe a little bit of self-love has crept in!”

Debbie says: “I really hope these images will encourage mums to build their self-confidence and see past the unrealistic images we see on billboards and social platforms. Real women really are the most beautiful.”

BabyFit offers classes to support and nurture mums and babies through pregnancy, and beyond, including pregnancy aqua and yoga, postnatal core recovery, baby and active baby yoga and bootcamp.

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