Displaying Postpartum Beauty Through Intimate Photographs

Displaying Postpartum Beauty Through Intimate Photographs

Even though postpartum bodies aren't something that our society likes to talk about or showcase for public display, we've all come from the same place so it's about time we started celebrating the processes women's bodies go through to bring a new life into this world. Which is why photographer Grace Elizabeth has created a "Gold Dust" project to look into postpartum motherhood.

The idea of creating a meaningful documentary project for this Essex, U.K.-based photographer arose through her interests of all things "motherhood, feminism, art, and photography." After finishing her photography degree and having done a dissertation on "the objectification of women and the male gaze," Elizabeth wanted to take on a personal project that's close to her heart.

Through her journey of creating a concept for her project, Elizabeth began researching the Japanese art of Kintsugi, which is "the beautiful art of repairing broken ceramic pots with gold; the idea being that they become more beautiful after they had been fixed, than before they were ever broken."

Taking partial inspiration from this school of thought, Elizabeth did not wish to focus on the "repair" aspect but rather to use "gold to highlight the beauty in something — this beauty being postpartum ladies' scars and stretchmarks." To attract her first subject, she put up a model call and ended up shooting a midwife, who's a mother of two and was more than happy to embrace the shoot concept.

The images are tender and timeless, all the while normalizing what the society has far too long considered unsightly. It's more likely you'll see celebrities and other regular women endorsing the concept that one must get back in shape immediately after giving birth, whether it's through natural means or laying on surgeon's table. We rarely see the scars, the changes in your body and the skin, although that is the most natural process in the world and yet we still choose to congratulate women on getting back in shape instead of asking "are you and your baby happy and healthy?"

Postpartum Mother showing her belly.

A mother breastfeeding her baby.

A mother holding her baby by a window.

A newborn being breastfed.

A mother holding her newborn.

If you'd like to get involved in the "Gold Dust" project, get in touch with Elizabeth.

Images used with permission of Grace Elizabeth.

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Spy Black's picture

Easy to say as a guy.

Oh yeah... As scientific as "storks bring babies" and "daddy kissed mommy and that's how you appeared".

Hans Rosemond's picture

The cesarean section is thousands of years old.

Anonymous's picture

"Most women were having children jut [sic] fine long before the money making cesarean procedure was introduced." Except for the ones that died due to a host of labor complications that are alleviated (and have been for centuries) with cesarean births.

If nothing else, a fool with a loud mouth can be entertaining.

I'd tell you to quit while you're ahead if you hadn't lost from the get-go.

user-156818's picture

Read this site long enough, and his comments stop being entertaining. Read a headline and you can predict what he'll comment. Best to ignore him.

There are no “views” or “opinions” in case of pregnant belly. It grows, it stretches, no other way to fit additonal volume in human’s body. If you never noticed that, then we have great variety of photographers here, including blind one.

Anonymous's picture

You don't get to tell people what's "best to do" here even if you think you have some sort of power over this forum. This isn't your little playground, so stop trying to silence others for disagreeing with your tactics or your positions.

This thread is evidence of a growing wave of resentment toward your ignorant posts and inflammatory methods.

And despite your attacks and threats, I'm still here...

Anonymous's picture

Are "sientific" facts those that relate to the Italian city?

Leigh Miller's picture


Don't become a #metoo subject dude.

Leigh Miller's picture

Talking about the scars and stretch marks dude. You understand that many women (and men) get them right?

Hans Rosemond's picture

Uhh...no. (Edited...I should expand my thought...) It's a complete crap shoot as to how a woman's body will respond to the stresses of pregnancy and delivery. Some will get stretch marks. Some will not. Hell, I have stretch marks and I'm a thin man. Some overweight women will get away scott-free, some fit women will be ravaged by stretch marks. Every woman's skin is different. Gross generalization and a claim of scientific neutrality do not do the feat of child bearing any justice. We should absolutely admire women who take on the burden and gift of carrying a child. So yes, having stretch marks is beautiful and ok, and there is no way of reliably preventing them.

Anonymous's picture

"We should absolutely admire women who take on the burden and gift of carrying a child." Very well said.

Hans Rosemond's picture

Sir, you are dead wrong. Your scientific facts are nonsense. Susceptibility to stretch marks and scarring are a result of skin tone, elasticity, weight, genetics, and environment. Simplifying it down to “not becoming fat” is just incorrect. Please point me to the scientific journals that show that being “fat” is the primary source of stretch marks. I’d love to be proven wrong.

Hans Rosemond's picture

Bob, you have a way of inflaming tempers in this site. If you want to put it down to a refusal to be PC or another reason, that’s fine. But you’re an intelligent man and I’m sure you know the response that some of your comments could potentially produce. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Also, I’m a lowly writer. If you have a legitimate grievance, I’m sure one of the editors would be happy to address it.

Hans Rosemond's picture

Bob, perhaps the phrase a I should have used was “You make your bed, you lie in it.” I care nothing for your or anyone else’s machismo.

On multiple occasions, you have passively needled people with language that is absolutely insulting. However, rather than saying “you are a so and so...” you say, “If you think this way you must be an ignoramus.” So, for you to stand back with your hands up and claim you always take the high road is disingenuous at best. I have defended no one. I’ve merely pointed out to you that the much of the drama you encounter on this site is of your own initiation.

So please, don’t attempt to pull the “I’m so disappointed in you” card. Everyone, including myself, needs to be able to look in the mirror and accept their portion of responsibility in a conflict.

Anonymous's picture

Wow, trying to get people to come out against me? How low are you going to go on this witch hunt?

You know, during pregnancy any belly grows. Like... seriously grows. Is it a fact for you? Or there is some undeniable evidence you have that this doesn't normally happen and just ___some___ women overeat and that's why their belly becomes bigger?

Anonymous's picture

I know you're being sarcastic, but no, there is no evidence that this doesn't just normally happen in pregnancy. 90% of pregnant women have striae gravidarum (the scientific name for pregnancy stretch marks) and the root causes of it are inconclusive. Prenatal BMI is one predisposition, but so are equally family history, the gender of the baby, the mother's age and education level, and skin type. I pulled these actual facts (as opposed to the bs regurgitated on the top of this forum) from findings published in the National Center for Biotechnological Information, by the way.

What you were initially responding to is a fine example of what happens when someone speaks from an orifice other than their mouth.

Having baby inside and expand within 9 months - is it too much and too quickly? According to your scientists, for sure...

Leigh Miller's picture

Hmmm let me ask you something...do you have a problem with fat women?

Leigh Miller's picture

Oh dude...I'm gonna go for a quick workout then grab a beer a popcorn. I think you just opened up a can o' whoop-ass up in here.

I really think there are a handful of things that just do not go with our thing...politics, religion and body-image issues.

and I sure hope you are super fit and good looking based on that commentary...sheesh.

Anonymous's picture

This POS accused me of trolling and tried to get me banned from the site recently, and then he posts this ignorant inflammatory garbage? What a sad waste of space.

Great project, however. Powerful images.

Anonymous's picture

Get off your high horse with your "silencing" and "dictatorship" martyrdom. I'm not the one trying to get someone kicked off the site because I got my feelings hurt when someone told me the truth.

The public admonition going on right now is directed toward your ignorance and inflammatory statements. And I have refuted your stupid points with facts that you have conveniently ignored.

Don't act like a POS, and I won't have to call you out on being one.

Wanda Bezouska's picture

Bob Brady... Let's start with there are Regulations mandating that c-sections be medically necessary this rule has been in place for many years now. As a L&D nurse I see many thin/small women with stretch marks... as far as your science is concerned it has to do with the amount of collegen in your skin... black skin is less elastic than white... and as a women...I'm guessing your single.

user-156818's picture

{edited} Deleted my original comment because you are not worth wasting my time with a reply.

Anonymous's picture

I'm going to have to follow your lead on this. At first, I felt it proper to call out abusive, ignorant trash here. But in this instance with this delusional hypocritical hack, best to back away.

Plus, he may try to silence you, pressure others to side with him through meandering tirades, and ban you from the site like he continues to do with me.

He obviously needs this forum to boost his ego and insesently claim his intelligence and moral high ground, as well as find a general sense of worth (at the expense of meaningful conversations on photography and culture, but I digress).

Pitiful, really. Good call.

user-156818's picture

The hypocrisy of trying to get you banned amazes me.

After a while, you'll start to see his comments are intentionally trying to incite a reaction from members of this site. In this day and age, I can't believe someone is that uneducated. If you watch how he words things, he's "gaming the system" so that he can't be banned. So, he must have intelligence, he's just using it poorly.

I do wish Fstoppers would finally kick him off. He ruins a lot of what is good about this site and he doesn't contribute anything of worth to the conversation.

Anonymous's picture

So I just took a deeper look at this person and good lord, over 2500 comments?! Yeah, I have too much to do of meaning to engage with this nut. Thanks for the tip.

It is a shame he drags down conversations so constantly and predictably. But I guess everyone needs a hobby, lol (photography might be a more relevant one, however.)

I might disagree with you on the intelligence part. The posts I've read show more anger and loneliness than intelligence. He seems to get his jollies off getting people to respond by posting inflammatory rhetoric. Looks like he just needs to be heard.

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