A Mother’s Body | Jenestia’s Story

A Mother

The “A Mother’s Body” project is a photography project aiming to normalize, highlight and celebrate mothers’ bodies of all sizes, shapes and stages of motherhood.  


“Body imagine should be about loving yourself, something I am slowly coming to realize. As young as 12 I remember being made fun of because I had hips, my breasts were starting to develop, and I was bigger than other girls. Poor self esteem and poor body imagine followed me throughout life. It wasn’t until around the age of 26 that I actually started feeling comfortable with myself, and for the first time, braved the world in a two piece bathing suit.

When my husband and I found out we were expecting our first baby, I was over the moon excited. I have always wanted four kids and couldn’t wait to start our family. The pregnancy came sooner than expected – Just as we were leaving to go backpacking through Europe for our honeymoon. So there was no wine tasting for me. But the arrival of our first baby was more exciting than the wine tasting.”


“As my pregnancy went on, the number on the scale went up and up and I started to freak out a little. I made sure to rub lotion on my belly twice daily for the fear of getting stretch marks. I felt stressed every time I had to face the scale and I remember when that lovely scale tipped over the 200 pound mark. I remember thinking, “how could this be happening? I just started getting comfortable with myself. How could I let myself gain so much weight?” …terrible right? Shouldn’t I have been thinking about this little precious baby I was growing?

After my son was born (which was a great moment) I spent no time trying to get back into shape. Six months later I was back into my old clothes and thankful to have had no stretch marks. When he was 11 months old, we found out baby number 2 was on the way. This time around the weight gain didn’t seem to stress me out as much, and I gained a lot less.”

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“Then it was the life of having two babies. The idea of having two children so close in age seemed like a great idea at the time, but little did we realize our son would enter his “terrible two” and our new sweet baby girl would cry all day and night for four months. Body image this time around: Well, I barely had time to think about what I looked like, let alone work out. All I thought about was, “how would I get through this”? And, “man I wish someone would give my husband and I a little break”. After things settled down I went right to work on getting myself back into shape.

My third pregnancy I gained, and gained, and gained some more – this time feeling not so bad about it, and trying to really enjoy just being pregnant. Not that I didn’t enjoy my other pregnancies. I truly did. Feeling the baby move for the first time and hearing the heartbeat for the first time is truly a miracle. During my pregnancy I developed cholestasis which affects the liver and made me extremely itchy! I didn’t think I would make it through the pregnancy without going mad! And, I was constantly worried about whether the baby was going to be OK. I rarely ever thought about body imagine and really just didn’t care.”


“After he was born I found myself again stressing over my weight – how my belly now hangs a little, and no matter how hard I worked, I just couldn’t get back to where I was. Then, I saw a posting of a mom with three kids similar in age to mine and a body with no “obvious” flaws. Under her image she had written, “What’s your excuse”? This really made me stop and think, “This body, my body, has grown three healthy babies. I nursed them, and they now give me a life I would never want to change – saggy belly and all”. I am so blessed that I get to have a saggy belly and cellulite legs because not all women can.”


“Do I want to be healthy? Yes. Do I want to be active? Yes. But I’m now realizing that it’s because I want to be able to run with my kids and play tag and not feel out of breath, not because I need to fit into a certain size of clothing. Throughout my life journey, I continue to struggle to have a positive body image, but every time I look at my beautiful children I’m quickly reminded of how proud I should feel about my body imagine. More importantly, I’m reminded of how I want, more than anything, for my daughter to have a positive body imagine, starting now, and lasting throughout her life! Thank you so much Genevieve for making me feel comfortable, and giving me this opportunity to share with my children!”

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Thanks so much!

Michelle King Whalen - Beautiful Jenestia!! Brought tears to my eyes. You and your children are beautiful!

Jenestia Herridge McKnight - Thank you 🙂

Janet Herridge - my beautiful daughter <3 inside and out 🙂

Katie Asma - Wow Jenestia! You ARE BEAUTIFUL and brave. I think that you may just change the world a little!

Wendy Bouskill Phillips - Lovely <3

Aisha Alward - This is beautiful! And so are you Jenestia! Inside & out

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