This was a different time, one that was about the perfect body not about body positivity. We were in the business of aspiration and perfection and a type of beauty that you had to strive for. As models, we were supposed to represent this ideal of beauty—I guess this one tiny thing didn’t fit. It does make you feel like, “Am I not good enough?” Throughout my career, people have retouched my belly over and over sending the message “that’s no good—we’re going to hide it.” They didn’t feel like it was the perfect image and it made this tiny imperfection bigger in my head.
Growing up, I was always insecure about my body because I stood out. I had these big teeth and I was taller than all the girls and all the boys and had these skinny limbs where everyone else seemed to have curves. When you’re that young and your body is at all different, you don’t really know how to work with it, how to make it your own—you need coaching, you need guidance.
When I started working with photographers at 15, I was faced with all my fears and things I was so insecure and shy about. But I got that guidance. It was like, “No, you have a beautiful smile. Smile! We want you to smile.” Then they said, “You have good long legs. You should be showing them off and wearing short skirts.” I was like, “Really? Me?” At that age, it gave me a lot of confidence to embrace my body. It made me feel really good. It really meant a lot to me. So when that same industry told me this specific part of my body was something to be hidden, I believed them.
Now we’re in a different time in the fashion industry that’s all about embracing who we are and the imperfections that make us beautiful. My third pregnancy has given me the opportunity to finally feel free in my body. This is a vulnerable time, an intimate time, for all of us. We’re all at home with ourselves with time to reflect on the things that are important—especially if you have children. What are you teaching them? What are you passing along? I don’t want to pass on the idea that beauty means perfection.
Personally, I love what happens to my body during pregnancy. It’s a beautiful, feminine, sensual time. When I give birth and when I’m pregnant, I really feel like a woman. It’s like, “Wow. I can do that. I’m so strong. I pushed this, I carried this, I’m breastfeeding this, I’m giving this person life.” It’s a Wonder Woman feeling. And it’s your right to enjoy that. Celebrate it. Document it. Frame it.
I’m blessed that I am able to get pregnant, and that I get to do this for the third time—maybe my last time—so I wanted to take some pregnancy photos. I wanted them to be intimate, personal, shot in my home. It was my clothes. It was how I wanted to be photographed. And it was how I wanted to be seen.