Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty, and Life after Pregnancy


Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty, and Life after Pregnancy is for every woman who has ever doubted herself or her self-worth after the birth of a child. Because most women spend much of their lives attempting to change their bodies, it’s not surprising that the weight gain that comes along with pregnancy (and post-pregnancy), coupled with the challenges of parenting, only exacerbate issues with weight, body image, disordered eating, and self-esteem.

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Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty, and Life after Pregnancy

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Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty, and Life after Pregnancy is for every woman who has ever doubted herself or her self-worth after the birth of a child. Because most women spend much of their lives attempting to change their bodies, it’s not surprising that the weight gain that comes along with pregnancy (and post-pregnancy), coupled with the challenges of parenting, only exacerbate issues with weight, body image, disordered eating, and self-esteem.

Drawing on the wisdom of eating disorders expert Dr. Dena Cabrera, as well as the personal experiences of former anorexic Emily Wierenga, Mom in the Mirror is a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual response to a female generation seeking its true identity in an appearance-based world. With chapters that deal with bruises from the past, misconceptions about pregnancy, life before and after children, marriage and motherhood, spiritual and physical nourishment, relationships with friends and family, and the changing role of a mother as her children age, it is a holistic approach to the age-old questions: Who am I, and why am I here? Comprising personal stories, expert advice, reflection questions, and helpful tools, this book is an inspiring read intended for women everywhere who want to restore a positive body image and to overcome the insecurities that arise when pregnancy is over and child-rearing begins.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this self-help book for Christian woman who struggle with body image, Cabrera and Wierenga (Chasing Silhouettes) offer the perspectives of a licensed clinician and an author who has personally battled anorexia, respectively. While the authors mention that one not need share the Christian faith in order to adopt an outlook of personal worth that precludes dangerous eating patterns, the bulk of the advice strongly emphasizes reliance on Christ. Replete with anecdotes and supportive phrasing, the book covers such challenges as physical recovery from pregnancy, preparing nutritious meals for one's family, and managing social relationships. The counsel regarding how to balance personal needs with those of one's marriage hinges on the concept that women need to feel cherished while men need to feel respected. Though the language devoted to this and other topics remains sympathetic, it grows repetitive, privileging God to solving specific problems. Each chapter ends with a list of thoughts for reflection and tools for change, while the chapters themselves typically consist of less specific healing terminology, positive quotations, and personal stories. Women who agree with the authors' spiritual assessments will benefit from this book's encouraging tone. (May)
plus-size supermodel Emme
From the foreword: I know you’ve been waiting for a book like this to help alleviate your pain, explain the insanity you’ve been living, and to be your friend, your confidant, and support. Welcome to the answers you’ve been looking for, some good hard facts to lead you to your personal worth, and the power to change.
Leanne Spencer
Mom in the Mirror is for the woman who sits in secrecy struggling with her self- worth, fearful of her body image, and in desperate need of support, guidance, and a way out of that judging, lonely, scared place. It is a good thing when brave women write the truth and share it with all. The words of Dena Cabrera and Emily Wierenga free us from our cages of fear, self-doubt, and body loathing. Please let the wise words of this book become a place of refuge for you and your loved ones.
W. Travis Stewart
Take the years of professional experience by Dena Cabrera combined with the personal journey of Emily Wierenga, add the hearts of two women who passionately want to help others with eating disorders and finally top it off with the heartbeat of a mother and you end up with Mom in the Mirror—a practical, passionate and professional book that will help mothers everywhere.
Nicole Unice
If you are a woman who’s ever struggled to be comfortable in your own skin (who hasn’t?), pregnancy can create a whole host of issues. Take heart! Dena Cabrera and Emily Wierenga lead us through turbulent places of our soul with a beautifully written book that is both warm and wise. Mom in the Mirror is written with enough honesty to be relatable and enough hope to be inspiring. If you are a mom or mom-to-be who’s looking for help in making peace with your body and your soul, Mom in the Mirror is for you.
Deidra Riggs
If you look at your body and shake your head, or deliver unkind words to your reflection when you glimpse it in a department store window, or if you know exactly how much weight you’ve gained or lost since yesterday – and you know that number every day, or if you categorize food as only “good” or “bad,” or if you look at other people and judge them based on their body type, or if you run for miles because you refuse to buy a bigger dress size, or if you never sit cross-legged or lean forward in a swimsuit, this book was written for you. Written with sensitivity, and from personal experience, Mom in the Mirror has untangled all those silly knots in my head that used to make me think my body wasn’t good enough.
Helen Burns
As I read through Mom in the Mirror I felt like I was holding a priceless treasure in my hands. How I wished that I had come across it years ago as I was navigating my own journey through the challenging seasons of motherhood, marriage, and learning to love myself. I have personally learned so much through the wisdom and insight that is written upon each page of this magnificent book.
I am so delighted that it will serve as a resource to empower and equip others to understand the complexities of being a woman and the challenges we face as we deal with our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. Every chapter invites the reader to reflect on her own thoughts and perceptions and gives valuable tools to move forward with confident resolve.
What a fantastic tool for the masses. It is SO needed in our world today.
Deborah Russo
Mom in the Mirror is a timely, inspirational and validating narrative of the stages of life, as well as of the often crazy making ups and downs of the courageous journey called motherhood!
As a mother of twins and a singleton, and psychologist working with women and girls struggling with eating disorders, I find this a welcome and empowering resource for any mom looking for similar experiences, answers and guidance in the areas of eating struggles and weight concerns that may accompany the everyday challenges associated with mothering.
Authors Dena Cabrera and Emily Wierenga combine their authentic experiences and struggles in raising children while providing enlightening leads with factual information, reflective questions that raise consciousness and provide comfort, along with tools for living to incorporate into a mother’s life.
Courtney Walsh
In a world where nothing seems real, Emily Wierenga and Dena Cabrera have finally—finally--given us an authentic and powerful look at the emotions and issues attached to childbirth. Written from personal experiences, this book isn't your typical self-help book, but rather feels like a much-needed conversation with a very good friend.Whether we know it or not,Mom in the Mirror is the book we’ve all been waiting for, and moms of all ages will benefit from the important truths inside.
Ann Capper
This book is so well written that I just didn’t want to put it down.
Moms everywhere will relate to the body image issues addressed in this comprehensive book, from pre-pregnancy through the childrearing years. With honesty and transparency, the authors weave together personal stories, well researched information, and practical advice. You will be touched—heart, mind, and soul—by Dena Cabrera’s professional wisdom and Emily Wierenga’s graceful prose, as they help you make peace with your body. Mom in the Mirror is powerful and life changing.
Margot Starbuck
If you’ve given birth, your body has, necessarily, changed. Some of those changes were temporary; others, to your dismay or delight, are permanent. If you’re like a lot of women, a naughty little voice in your head hisses that your body—before, during or after pregnancy—isn’t quite acceptable the way it is. Though the lie seems believable enough, what you most need is to hear the voice of truth. In Mom in the Mirror, Dr. Dena Cabrera and the wise Emily Wierenga share words of life. Make it your post-pregnancy body-image authority!
Elyse Resch
Mom in the Mirror offers an important contribution to the field of parenting and, in particular, to the mother’s role in preventing the development of an eating disorder in her children. Through healing her own eating and body image issues, the mother becomes the most influential role model for self-acceptance and the importance of removing self-judgment.
Maria Rago
Dena Cabrera and Emily Wierenga offer a beautiful tribute to motherhood, and an explanation of the complicated body image and self-image issues that naturally come along with it. The guidance provided shows moms how they can truly learn to love and accept themselves, and then pass this legacy of self-love onto their daughters.
Jenni Schaefer
Mom in the Mirror is an exquisite account of motherhood that includes not only the experience of two women who overcame their own battles with food but also easy-to-follow clinical wisdom. I’m not a mom, but I sure feel better prepared to be one someday!
Jacquelyn Ekern
A candid discussion of women's poor body image and encouragement to celebrate all that these miraculous bodies do for us!
Shannon Cutts
Mom in the Mirror has been a long time coming. Like a literary mentor, this book is chock-full of useful information, tips, ideas and inspiration that can benefit ANY woman and any mother, whether she is in recovery from an eating disorder or just wants to feel better about her body, herself and her life.
Becky Henry
A must read for any expectant parent! And for those new moms who have had eating disorders, this will be a well-worn daily companion. The tools and reflections shared will aid in creating realistic expectations for new moms. I'm impressed with the vast wisdom in this book and believe it will give much peace to anxious moms everywhere.
Megan Osborne
Excellent! Timely! As the little girls of the 70s, 80s and 90s enter into motherhood far too many find themselves paralyzed by fears of raising their children with the same body image insecurities and food issues they have experienced. Mom in the Mirror offers rich insight and highly practical application for mothers desiring to raise this next generation to love their body. In a culture steeped in disordered eating and body image, this resource is invaluable.
Kirsten Haglund
Dena Cabrera and Emily T. Wierenga present all of the challenges and blessings of motherhood in an honest and hopeful way. Both their stories and their expertise lend them the ability to make the women who read their words laugh out loud and sigh in recognition of common struggles. This is a book by women, for women, and maybe even men, who want to understand how to transform body issues during motherhood into blessings.
The coauthors—a former anorexic who is a mother of four and a clinical psychologist who specializes in eating disorders—tackle body image, especially during and after pregnancy. They aggregate some sensible existing pregnancy information, such as the Mayo Clinic’s advice to trade white bread and pasta for whole grains and to eat sliced fruit instead of a cookie. But they refer most frequently to God, which may turn off less-religious readers. Cabrera and Wierenga write that they want to help women “improve their relationships with their bodies, their families and their Creator.” Religion plays a big role in the stories of first-name-only real people, such as Jillian, a mother of seven whose husband was addicted to Internet porn. She believes she suffered from eating disorders as a result of his fixation on airbrushed perfection. Then she found God and a new perspective on her body. “To all husbands, I think, the most beautiful wife is a naked wife,” she says. “Not a thin wife. Not a chiseled wife. Not an airbrush. But one who lets him love her . . . sag, stretch marks, and all.”
Library Journal
According to the authors, clinical psychologist Cabrera and Wierenga (Chasing Silhouettes: How To Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder; Save My Children: The Story of a Father's Love), a recovered anorexic and mother of four, 75 percent of females aged 25–45 exhibit disordered eating behaviors. The book aims to "help women separate the truth from the lies about who they are and to subsequently improve relationships with their bodies, their families, and their Creator." Interweaving their stories with clinical and spiritual advice, the book then unfortunately focuses on describing how unhappy people are, resulting in an overriding tone of gloom. For example, "The problem is that we, as women, haven't been encouraged to love ourselves because that wouldn't feed the cosmetics industry." VERDICT The authors are sympathetic to pain but short on advice, and the pathological dysphoria is ultimately irritating. This is unlikely to be appreciated by mainstream moms, even those of us who feel bad about our necks. Depressing.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442218659
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/16/2013
  • Pages: 242
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Dena Cabrera, PsyD, serves as a licensed clinical psychologist, certified eating disorder specialist, and clinical director at Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders. She has personally treated hundreds of women and girls struggling with eating and body image issues. Cabrera has been quoted in print publications including Parenting Magazine, Parents Magazine, Prevention, and others. In addition, Cabrera has published several articles and book chapters. She is a wife and mother of two.

Emily T. Wierenga is a recovered anorexic and a wife and a mother to four boys (two of them biologically her own). She is the author of three books, including Chasing Silhouettes: How to Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder with Dr. Gregory Jantz and Save My Children: The Story of a Father’s Love. She has appeared on national television and radio multiple times and speaks regularly to church and women’s groups. In addition, Wierenga is a monthly columnist for the Christian Courier; a commissioned artist; and an award-winning journalist. She also serves as official ambassador for FINDINGbalance, as well as a navigator for the National Eating Disorder Association. For more information, please visit

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Table of Contents


1: Our Bodies, Ourselves—The Dissatisfied Generation
2: A Bruised Beginning—From Girlhood to Adolescence
3: From Bruised to Broken: When Adolescent Turns Adult
4: Before and After—The Effects of Pregnancy
5: Change, Acceptance, and More Change—Embracing Motherhood
6: The Sleepless Wife—How to Balance Marriage and Motherhood
7: Beyond Breast Milk (or Formula)—The Challenges of Feeding Children
8: Food from Heaven—Spiritual Nourishment for You and Your Family
9: Like Mother, Like Daughter—Your Personal Legacy
10: Being the Mirror—How to Inspire Beauty in Our Daughters
11: The Anxious Mother—Using Food, Exercise, or Work as an Escape
12: Friendly Competition—Your Relationship with Other Women
13: As They Grow—Your Changing Role as a Mom and Woman
14: Getting Help—Hope and a Cure
15: Identity Crisis—Discovering True Self-Worth


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