I really thought that when I got past my teenage years I would be done doing any major wrestling with my body image. I worked hard to feel comfortable in my skin and be happy with what I looked like without changing it. For a long time I was done. I had some moments here and there but for the most part I felt good in my skin. Then boom! Pregnancy! Post baby body! Now I feel like a stranger in my own body. Nothing is firm. Everything jiggles. I can fit into my pre-baby clothes but now they fit weird. I don’t like the way I look from the shoulders down most days.
Now I know some of you out there are rolling your eyes and saying “whatever, I’d love to be that skinny,” “have a body like that,” whatever. That’s fine for you to think but keep those thoughts inside please. When I hear that it makes me want to scream. When you say those things to someone you are minimizing their personal struggle even if it’s not your intention. I may be skinny but I’m allowed to voice my feelings about my body because it’s my body and my feelings about it. I know that people mean well but I’ll let you in on a little secret. My body issues have nothing to do with you or magazines or anyone else. They are 100% self created. My rational brain knows this. But when I look in the mirror what I see doesn’t match the me I feel like inside and it upsets me. In my head I’m still the perky me that I was. The mirror shows a different story. It probably shows a different story than what you see too. When I look I see a boob that droops lower than it’s parter. I see softness where there once was just the right amount of strength. You see I don’t compare myself to you or anyone else. I compare myself to old me.
I’ve decided to take back my body though. No, this isn’t some new diet or workout. This is a choice that I have to make every day. I will choose to find one thing about myself to appreciate every day even if some days all I appreciate is the color of my eyes. Because my saggy boobs fed my children. Because my soft stomach once held two humans, two amniotic sacs, and two placentas. Because if I’m going to start taking better care of myself it must start with a love of the body that I’m in. I know that this isn’t the case for everyone and that’s okay. I just know that personally if I start working out as a way to love my body it won’t fix the problem. I’ll just find ways to hate it still.
This weekend I took the first huge step in my journey. I went to a festival in a top that I had a friend make for me. It’s pretty and crocheted and leaves my stomach bare. It looks exactly like something I would have worn before babies without thinking twice. I was scared to wear it. Once I stopped being self conscious about it I began to feel comfortable and didn’t think about it anymore. I just enjoyed myself. It was a major victory for me.
I don’t want my kids to say ugly things about their bodies because they grew up hearing me talk shit about mine. I make it a point not to hold on to ugliness or hate in my life and it’s time to stop being ugly to myself. So today when I look in the mirror I chose to love my wide hips. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.