Chicago photographer Ashlee Wells Jackson grew up with a positive body image, so it wasn't until she lost a child that she began to feel that her body had betrayed her.
A few years after having her first child Xavier, Jackson and her husband learned that she was pregnant with twins who had Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, which is almost always fatal.
One twin, Aurora, died after a surgery that was one of their last hopes for saving the twins. After spending 100 days in the NICU, the other twin Nova survived and is now a healthy 3-year-old.
The feeling of failure "hit me like a ton of bricks," Jackson said. "I felt like a failure as woman and mother. I felt really worthless."
"I decided that I don't want this to be my dialogue," she said. "I don't want my children growing up with a mother feeling this way. I don't want it to be my dialogue with my husband — or myself."
So that's when Jackson and her business partner began working on the 4th Trimester Bodies Project. The book, which was released Sept. 15, showcases 150 participants willing to show off their postpartum bodies in order to replace "gross and graphic" images of mothers' bodies — and the hurtful words society and media use to describe women and that mothers use to describe themselves — with images that are "beautiful and honest and realistic."0comments
Over 1,000 participants were photographed, and the entire project can be viewed on Jackson's website here. In the meantime, check out some of the photos below.