We live in a world where the pressure on women to maintain a certain physical aesthetic is overwhelming. We are all expected to fit this mold of the ideal woman, and if we don’t fit this mold we feel like we are less desirable or beautiful because of it. This goes beyond simply not feeling desired by men. Most of the time we are our worst critic and toughest judge.I know the things I think about myself are things I would never say to anyone. I’ve struggled with self-acceptance all my life, particularly when it comes to my weight. In high school, I felt so much pressure to lose weight I turned to bulimia and anorexia. I would go days without eating, purging anything I allowed myself to eat, even something as tiny as a chip. I abused laxatives, and at my lightest I was 94lbs, I remember this exact number because I had obsessed over weighing myself multiple times a day. At 5ft 8in this weight was neither healthy, nor beautiful. I eventually replaced the obsessive binging and purging with compulsive exercising habits. I found myself in the gym hours a day, eating nothing but chicken and broccoli on a strict schedule. Yet still I hated my body, I was constantly thinking ‘well if I could just lose 10lbs, or just have skinnier legs, I’ll love my body then.’ I based my self-acceptance and beauty off a number on the scale, or the size of my clothes.
I am not going to tell you that I magically became self-accepting and loving, and never feel the pressure of the scale now; because I do. What I am going to tell you, is that I do not hate my body anymore, and it’s not because my body is finally perfect. In reality, my body is the furthest from society’s idea of perfect it has ever been, yet I love it more than I ever have before. It took me growing a human life inside me, then bringing this life into the world, and sustaining it, to realize my body is badass! Excuse my language, but it is. My body can, and has done amazing things; and it doesn’t matter what shape I am. I realize now that beauty comes from within, it is far from skin deep. After having my son, I found a whole new level of body acceptance, but I know for countless other women it is the complete opposite. Pregnancy and motherhood change your entire body, my body has never been the shape it is now, after having my son. Yet as mothers we are put under immense pressure to get our pre-baby bodies back-as if we are to be ashamed of our bodies reflecting any signs of motherhood.
I guarantee scrolling through any social media site, at this very moment, any mother can find at least one post telling her how to ‘get the baby weight off’ or ‘get your pre-baby body back’. All of a sudden, after having a kid everyone thinks it’s okay to comment on your body, and ask about your weight. There is so much pressure on mothers to snap back to whatever you were before having a baby; and the reality of that is, you may never be that person again, physically or emotionally. Motherhood has changed my body in ways that are irreversible. I have stretch marks on my sides, my cup size doubled, and my feet grew ½ a shoe size. These are just some of the more drastic changes my body has endured that I cannot change no matter what my fitness goals are. Beyond these changes my stomach now sags-due to stretching out the size of a watermelon, my boobs reach my belly button-after inflating then deflating through breastfeeding, and I have more body hair on my face now than I can even understand; yet I’m here to tell you I LOVE THIS BODY! If you are anything like me, you are just astounded at the physical changes motherhood has had on you but-I love this body and I’m telling you I don’t want my pre-baby body back.
I don’t love everything about myself every day, but I can find beauty within myself now more than I have ever been able to before. What society labels as flaws reflect the strength of my body. They defy societies expectations for beauty. So no, I’m not working on losing those last 10lbs of baby weight. I’m accepting and loving my body just the way it is. Because it is doing amazing things every single day. My boobs sag because I sustained a human life for six months, with nothing but the milk my body made. My hips and stomach are covered in stretch marks from carrying a human life inside me, for nine months. I’m not ashamed of these elements of my body, I'm proud. I am proud of my post baby body. My post baby body has nursed my son back to health after illness, it has sustained life, my post baby body is beautiful and strong. It is far from perfect and I see flaws in it every day, but I am able to see the beauty and strength through the self-doubt and judgement.
So, to the moms out there feeling the pressure to ‘lose that last 10lbs of baby weight’ or ‘fit into their pre-baby clothes again’ I say to you, you are beautiful just the way you are. What our bodies can provide as mothers is the most beautiful thing in the world. As a mother my body is a source of comfort when my child needs love, it is a jungle gym when he needs fun, and it is a support system when he needs a helping hand. Your body post-baby, no matter what the shape it is, does amazing things every day. Whether you are the mom who immediately bounced back, or you are the mom who feels permanently changed, we are all beautiful. Our bodies provide so much for everyone around us, and the least we can do is accept and love them! There is nothing wrong with your body after having kids.
Today I am taking a stand. I’m standing up for my post baby body. I'm taking a stand against the idea that a woman’s beauty is based on the shape of her body. I declare love for my post baby body. The body that laid beside my son as he learned to crawl, the body that provided him with nourishment, the body that walked beside my son as he took his first steps, and now the body that chases him around daily as a toddler. This body has provided me with the best moments of my life, it has provided my son with the love, comfort, and support he needs; it provides me with all the strength I need to nurture and comfort my son as he grows. I couldn't care less that this body is 10lbs heavier than pre-baby, or that my skin now bears the marks of motherhood. So, with this post I declare my love for this post baby body, and I announce for the world to hear, I DO NOT WANT MY PRE-BABY BODY BACK! No matter my weight, I am leaving behind my pre-baby body, my body is forever changed by motherhood-and it is the most beautiful it has ever been. I hope this encourages all you moms out there to show yourself a little love. You are beautiful just the way you are, and your bodies-no matter the shape, are perfect as they are. Liberate yourself from the pressure of ‘getting your pre-baby body back’ and declare your love for your post baby body!