Wendy Scharp (36), Shawn Salter (37), Taylor (19), Blaeith (13), and Sol (12)
Wisconsin | Photographed in Portland, OR
Wendy shares -
"Being a pregnant teen and teen mom made me feel negatively about the appearance of my body before I even reached adulthood. However, my birth experience empowered me because I was able to feel how strong my body truly was. This is what gave me the strength to persevere. Throughout parenthood I have struggled to see myself as beautiful. My partner, Shawn, has been a solid source of assurance that I am actually beautiful. It has taken me nearly 20 years of parenthood to finally start to realize this a little bit.
In regards to parenting, forgive yourself every day. Forgiving yourself will teach your children to forgive as well.
My last 13 years as a birth professional have granted me the great fortune of being a part of thousands of people's journey to parenthood and their struggles and triumphs with body and other issues. I have always taught, promoted and advocated for moms to love, love, love their bodies and their lives. Meanwhile, I wasn't always following my own advice and I wasn't feeling love, love, love for my body. I am here today because I want to make sure it is known that I have found love for my body and regardless of how long it took, it feels amazing! I want everyone to know this. I don't have a cure-all for everyone, but I want everyone to know that loving your body is still possible - even if you think it never will."
Shawn shares -
"My body image has consistently remained low and negative throughout my entire life. I was an overweight child and adolescent and only months before meeting my partner, Wendy, did I suddenly lose 100+ lbs and begin to feel somewhat good about myself. Within months of meeting and falling in love with Wendy, we found out she was pregnant. We were both teenagers at the time and faced with understanding our recently changed/changing bodies without any real guidance or support. My family and others in my community used to say that I looked 'sick' because I was so thin compared to who I was.
In some way, parenting fueled my desire to maintain my weight loss. Wendy and I were already determined to defy the many negative statistics about teen parenthood and likewise I was motivated to defy the statistic that overweight children tend to remain overweight. Looking back, I don't know whether this motivation has contributed more to me feeling good about myself or me feeling shitty about myself? Regardless, parenthood has kept me motivated to 'look' good, whether that means eating less when I feel fat or working out a bit more when I know I have eaten poorly or judging my food choices and eating habits.
Somewhere between apathy about your body and neurotic obsession about your body lies a happy place where things can be exactly what they are. Go find it.
I would never have had the courage or motivation to share any of this information or participate if it weren't for my partner Wendy. She is amazing and my personal hero!"