Have you ever been to a large gathering of young children, like a sports day?
Have you taken a moment to look around at these hopeful little beings, running around, having fun, learning about what this world is? Have you noticed how they all look different, have different lengths, sizes, faces, hair colors, natural abilities, voices?
From when we’re first born, we are and look a unique way, and for most of our lives, it’s celebrated. Why does that celebration reach an expiry date? Why are we all suddenly held to the same standard of beauty and intellect, rather than continuing to embrace exactly who we are?
I think it’s insanity. And before fixing it for our children’s sake, we need to look in the mirror and fix it for ourselves.
After having my daughter two years ago, I felt a type of body liberation, feeling more at home in myself than I ever have before. Breastfeeding was doing my body well and I felt at peace with how I looked and what my body was doing. However, this was a skewed sense of liberation and peace, because my body was still fitting into society’s standards. It took a turn of events for me to see that my body liberation was false.
Change is inevitable, and it was inevitable for me to learn that my body hate was deeper than I thought. After the weaning journey and hormonal come down, my body started to change. It’s something that never even crossed my mind. I figured my body would become more and more of its old self, not grow beyond my pregnancy weight. Throw in the additional stress of major life changes and well, you know, everything of the last two years, and my body morphed into something it has never been before.
Every edge was softer and fuller, my clothes weren’t fitting or flattering me anymore, my breasts were emptied and collapsed, and my stomach was homing buttery soft rolls. I was not fitting into society’s body standard anymore. And I hated it. It didn’t feel like me. It didn’t feel beautiful. It fueled my anxiety and I desperately wanted to regain control.
I felt stupidly defeated. My efforts of eating healthier and less and exercising more were making no changes to my physical body. I wish I could say it helped me on other levels, but I was anxiously spiraling back to body dysmorphia and obsession like I was back in high school. I got so stuck on the appearance as if it is the only thing that exists, and as though it may never change. I felt sick to my stomach. I figured I could try harder, but here’s the thing I grasped:
Parenting is exhausting.
I realized that I don’t have the emotional and physical capacity to commit myself to some hardcore eating and workout regime to shrink myself, and so I won’t. And we shouldn’t have to.
The pressure on women—and moms—is unbearable. So, if I’m adding anything to my mental load for 2022, it’s to live my life and not be held back by my newly curvy body. I want to celebrate it.
I will buy pants in a larger size and embrace my popping booty. I will wear high-waisted everything and carry my mom pouch with pride. I will show my flabby arms that have carried my daughter with immense strength for years. And I will show my entirely untoned legs with confidence because they carry all of me. And all of me is enough. All of me is worthy.
And all of you is enough too.
And may we remember that all of our children are enough too.
I encourage you to walk to the mirror right now, look yourself in the eyes and say, “I’m learning to love you. I really, really love you. I love you, more and more.”
I know this is not easy. We’ve become somewhat addicted to the pain and obsession of not feeling good enough. We can change that. We can support each other. We can get over hating ourselves. We can change the future for ourselves and our children.