It can come during pregnancy, after our babies are born or really at any time in our lives: the feeling that we’re just not sexy. To combat that, two Instagram influencers, Meg Boggs and Bethanie Garcia, teamed up with five other friends to launch an empowering body positivity campaign that encourages all women to feel sexy in their own skin.
The result was a photo series across Instagram showing seven women of all shapes and sizes, who each used the platform to talk about how they came to embrace their own sexiness.
Boggs and Garcia were texting late one night and came up with the idea together, “talking about this very subject and how we feel like ‘being sexy,’ especially as a mom or as someone in a large body, is so taboo,” Garcia told The Bump.
They reached out to friends on Instagram who “were outspoken on taboo topics” and found them all receptive to the idea of sharing their own experiences—and photos—as part of a larger project. The women told moving stories about their struggles with weight and self-image, the standards imposed by others, the ways their bodies changed during pregnancy and how they reconnected with their confidence and sexiness.
Boggs admitted in her post that “sexy, in my previous mindset, was anything but me. It wasn’t a word to describe me or my body.” But she was inspired by other women. “Sexy has always been a hard word for me. I never felt it until this past year, not until after noticing other women, similar to my body type, owning their sexiness so openly. It felt rare to see, but just in those rare moments, I felt the shift in how I embraced my own,” she told The Bump.
Garcia battled inner demons as well. “After becoming a mom (to four!) and gaining a lot of weight, I felt for years that I had to lose weight in order to be ‘sexy’ again. I felt like society was constantly beating into my head that thin = beautiful,” she told The Bump. “It wasn't until I started my own self-love journey, that I slowly began realizing that my body is BEAUTIFUL, no matter what.” (You can check out her Instagram post here.)
“I struggled with my body from the age of 8. I became aware of it in 2nd grade when a girl told me my stomach poked out more than hers,” Jessica Janae posted. She said that after having two babies back-to-back, she “gave up on ever feeling sexy again for years.” But seeing other women who looked like her in ads and on runways helped change her thinking and made her wonder. “Maybe I was beautiful & was sexy all along?? Because sexy is not a body type or size of clothing or number on the scale or boob to waist ratio, sexy is your CONFIDENCE, your soul, your mind, your fire, your smile, your words & the things you do in the world!”
Fatima Dedrickson, a mom of three, posted a picture of herself cradling her belly bump. “Being pregnant isn’t always glamorous. A lot of things happen to us that are out of our control,” she wrote. “So how do you feel sexy pregnant when you have swollen feet, heartburn, gained weight, no sleep, loose skin, feeling sick? Confidence. It’s all about how you feel about yourself regardless of the changes. As I watch my body go through another phase, I can’t help but feel proud.”
We asked Garcia and Boggs what they would tell women who are still struggling to feel sexy, especially given all the changes that happen during and after pregnancy. “I struggled so hard postpartum—with my body image, with postpartum depression, just with everything,” Garcia said. “In those first few months, I was just trying to survive. But after I started getting into my routine, I realized that I had such a negative relationship with my body. I made a huge effort to turn that around.”
Boggs told us that sexy is “not something that leaves us if our bodies change. We have it before pregnancy, during and into our postpartum journeys. Sexy has stretch marks. It has cellulite and bumps and rolls and loose skin. It becomes whatever we are. And allowing ourselves to see it and feel it is the first step. Whether that’s in the mirror, in a photo, in a moment, in an experience… give yourself the chance to accept that it’s true.”
“Sometimes the first step is the tiniest, hardest step,” Garcia added. “But it’s so freaking worth it. Start showing up and being present. Your kids don’t care what you look like—they care that their mom was there with them, making memories.”