Nearly baring it all for the city of Charleston helped me learn to love my postpartum body.
Getting ready for modeling in a fashion show is a lot like trying to get out the door with no less than two small children in tow. The frantic energy is the same, at least one person is in tears, and someone nearby can be heard yelling, “Get your shoes on, NOW!” There’s no smiling or relaxing — until it’s over. At some point, you’re standing in the midst of the chaos wondering . . .
“How did I end up here?”
It started as most of my adventures begin: me lying in bed late one night, scrolling endlessly through Instagram. I stumbled across an ad for an open modeling call for Charleston Fashion Week, taking place the following weekend.
I had recently been grappling with my new-ish identity as a mother of two, having just given birth to my son not five months prior. My days were spent juggling the napping and feeding schedule of two, while holding down the fort as my husband slogged his way through his residency.
In short, I was looking for a quick escape from my ever-present mom bun and (always lukewarm) cup of half-drunk coffee.
With my husband’s support, I summoned all the courage I could and showed up to the casting. It was very America’s Next Top Model with judges in dark glasses sitting across the room as you displayed your best catwalk while Beyoncé thumped overhead. It was an exhilarating blur, but I had somehow made “The Book,” which would be sent out to all the designers participating in Fashion Week. Using “The Book,” designers would peruse our sea of faces in the following weeks and choose who they’d like to wear their clothing for their show.
A few days later, I received an e-mail from the CFW coordinators that I’d been chosen for one of the shows. I was ecstatic as I quickly read through the e-mail to see who had picked me. When my eyes landed on the designer, my stomach instantly dropped. It must have been a mistake, right? Nope. I would be modeling for a local high-end lingerie boutique, and it was my body they wanted to see sporting their beautiful, skimpy wears down the runway.
Modeling in Charleston Fashion Week
Fast forward a few weeks to the actual show, I’m standing backstage in a line of shivering, excited women at least 10 years younger than me — with the physiques to prove it — spray-tanned and hairless within an inch of my life. I catch a glimpse of my face in a nearby mirror: hair coiffed like a Victoria’s Secret model from the nineties and enough makeup to mask the fact that I had been up twice the night before with a teething baby. I look down at my outfit one last time — the beautiful, albeit completely sheer, lavender crystal-studded bra and panties — and adjust the strap of my four-inch stilettos.
I begin to panic and wonder if there’s any way I can get out of this, or at least put on one more layer of clothing. But then the music starts, the crowd cheers, and the lights glare as I’m gently pushed out onto the runway . . . there’s no turning back now.
If you had told me when my second child was born that I’d be walking in Charleston Fashion Week a few months later, I would have laughed in your face with a few words you can’t say in public. Not that it wouldn’t be fun in theory, but in practice, I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my body, made even more complicated by two pregnancies. The idea that I’d be putting it all out there was downright preposterous.
So what changed?
I can’t tell you the exact moment it happened, but something woke up inside of me that was so tired of fighting with my reflection. Grimacing at every square inch of sagging skin, each doughy curve of my love handles, or dimple on my bottom . . . was this how it was going to be for the rest of my life? Would I silently chastise myself for not looking like I hadn’t just had two babies every time I got dressed, or caught a glimpse of myself getting out of the shower? And most importantly, was this the example I wanted to set for my daughter — that this is how we regard a body that ages, changes, and grows life?
Participating in Charleston Fashion Week gave me the opportunity to change the narrative I had around my body. Even if putting it on display in all its crystal-studded glory was a bit extreme, I’m proud that I did it. I’m honored that I got to stand in a line of other beautiful women and celebrate — with every little jiggle and imperfection — that a mother’s body is capable of so much. That body’s worth is much more than what it looks like in underwear. Of course, I certainly have days when I wish my boobs were closer to my chin than my belly button, or that I had the booty from my freshman year of college. But I’m so glad I took this opportunity to embrace my body for the powerful vessel that it is, and to set the example for my daughter to love the skin you’re in — flaws and all.
About the Author
Siobhan Magin is a stay-at-home mom of two-under-two and the wife of a resident at MUSC. A former teacher, she loves watching her children learn and grow, while making messes and memories and exploring the beauty of Charleston. When she’s not chasing around her babies or putting out small fires – literally and figuratively – she can be found reheating her coffee for the 100th time, strutting the aisles of Target like a catwalk, binging reality television during nap time, eating her child’s leftover dinosaur nuggets, or reading her kindle on the floor of her bathroom with the door locked.