My alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. and I had barely slept. The excitement and anxiety about accepting my first postpartum modeling job at the age of 33 seemed overwhelming. I could feel a knot growing in my stomach as I realized that I was about to put my 16-week postpartum body on display in a skimpy bikini on national television. And this wasn’t just any modeling job. This was a live segment on “Access Hollywood” with Heidi Klum showcasing her new swimwear line.
In addition, I was breastfeeding at the time and requested to bring my infant son, George. When I got there, I worried about the size of my breasts fluctuating from hour to hour. I worried that George might cry and disrupt the production. I worried that my size 14 body would look squishy, bloated and unflattering in front of millions of viewers. Even as I sat in the green room getting my hair and makeup done, I felt full of anxiety.
I looked around at the other models, all a decade younger than me and several sizes smaller. I started to question if I belonged there. A curve model for more than 10 years, it surprised me that motherhood made me feel so out of place.
The truth was that I had every right to be there. I loved my work. Since 2009, I had tirelessly built my reputation as a well-known and respected curve model in a cut-throat industry. I regularly worked for major brands like Target, Kohl’ and Hanes. I landed the covers of Women’s Running Magazine and Weight Watchers. I was even the first curve model to work for Frederick’s of Hollywood.
But the sheer act of becoming a mom changed my perspective. In that moment on set, I realized how much other women and mothers needed to see bodies like mine … rolls, wrinkles, cellulite and all. As squeamish as I felt at the time, I’m now incredibly grateful for the experience because it empowered me to realize my potential.
I must be honest though, the first months after giving birth were brutal. After George was born, I had postpartum anxiety and intense feelings of identity loss. The sleep deprivation and difficulties breastfeeding were crushing. Not only was I struggling with the new responsibilities of motherhood, but I was deeply concerned that my career might very well be over.
I saw other models vanish from the industry when they became mothers. I wondered how soon they would expect me to be in the same dress and bra size again. I wondered if they would accept my new “flaws.” I wondered how I would be able to provide for my family if my agency dropped me and clients stopped booking me.
I lost myself in motherhood in the first 18 months of George’s life. I let my fears and anxieties get the best of me. I was still periodically getting job offers during that time, but my determination and drive to succeed burned out.
Ultimately, I chose to pause and focus on my family. I needed time and space to determine what I wanted. We moved from Los Angeles to a small Texas town for my husband’s work and my agency dropped me, as I feared they would.
Nevertheless, what I found during that time was priceless: growth and purpose. I realized just how much I truly loved modeling, but also how much I missed writing. I realized I could empower mothers by not only persevering as a model in an industry with outdated beauty standards, but I could also write about what the motherhood journey has meant to me. With that, the foundation for my first book emerged.
So at the age of 36, I booked myself a ticket to New York, set up agency meetings and found my perfect fit in One Management. The director knew I was a mother and he saw my value. There were other mothers on his board – like plus-size powerhouses Robyn Lawley and Hunter McGrady – and I knew how well he treated them.
After two years there, I’ve witnessed firsthand how more brands are realizing that women at all stages want to see themselves represented in modeling. I’m now booking more lucrative jobs than I did before becoming a mother!
While it’s been a journey to embrace my postpartum body, I remind myself that I birthed a human life – and that’s amazing. Moreover, it’s the purpose of my book, “The New Mom Code: Shatter Expectations and Crush It at Motherhood.”
To that end, here is my best advice to help new moms realize their dreams and feel confident in their postpartum skin:
- Stop comparing, start praising. It’s important to realize that you have your own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. There is NO ONE else like you, so it’s time to stop comparing yourself to others and own what makes you unique.
- Embrace the ‘mom gems.’ You are amazing, so actively work on changing your inner narrative! The only person who believes you’re not good enough is you, and you have the ability to change that. I like to call each new wrinkle, mole, incision, gray hair, or stretch mark a ‘mom gem’ because they embody the physical representation of resilience and strength.
- Ditch the wine, feel oh so fine. It’s extremely hard to reach your greatest potential when you’re under the influence of alcohol. It robs you of joy and suppresses the brain from feeling things that could lead to positive life-changing breakthroughs. Additionally, current research suggests that alcohol increases anxiety and depression in women even more than in men.
- Self-care is not selfish. There’s a reason why every airplane safety video on the planet instructs you to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. It’s because you’re no good to anyone if you can’t breathe. The same thing applies to motherhood. Take that trip you’ve been putting off. Make time for a massage. It’s crucial to prioritize your needs so you have a greater capacity to be your best self.
- Have an affair. Having an open or secret affair with your dreams and aspirations is a fantastic step toward reaching your goals. Although you may be in the thick of motherhood and have very little time for yourself, try to delegate small pockets of time to daydream about your ideal future. Take small, actionable steps to that end. Maybe that means e-mailing one of your idols or connecting with a jewelry shop that might be interested in carrying your designs. I found myself writing short stories on my iPhone at 2 a.m. and it eventually led to me publishing this book!
Amanda Tice is an international curve model, author, body positivity advocate, co-founder of Hatch Studios and proud mom to 5-year-old son, George. She released her first book, “The New Mom Code: Shatter Expectations and Crush It at Motherhood,” in 2022. Follow Amanda on Instagram @amandatice.