As a boudoir and pin-up photographer from Chicago, Ashlee Wells Jackson is used to working with beautiful women. “I get these gorgeous, powerful, amazing women in my studio every day, but every single one of them has beauty [image] issues,” Jackson, 30, told GoodMorningAmerica.com. Jackson wanted to do something meaningful to change that. “Women have been taught and told by society we’re supposed to look a certain way,” she said. “We see celebrities in the media who have babies and the next photo you see they look like supermodels again. It’s this lie that has been perpetuated over and over again, and women are so damaged by it.”
Jackson began the 4th Trimester Bodies Project, a photography series highlighting everyday moms and their post-baby bodies. “We wanted it to be beautiful, done in a beautiful way so that women could see the beauty in these stretch marks and these scars,” she said of the project, “dedicated to embracing the beauty inherent in the changes brought to our bodies by motherhood, childbirth and breastfeeding.” Jackson herself had post-baby body insecurities to confront. She endured a traumatic cesarean-section, in which she lost one of her twin daughters, and left her with a “huge” scar and crooked muscles. “I went from being a woman who was always very self-confident … But all of a sudden I was ashamed of myself,” said Jackson. “I wouldn’t let my husband touch me.” Through this project, Jackson has conquered her body image issues head on, and is encouraging other mothers to do the same. “It’s been really transformative,” she said.