Caryn: There’s really no way I’m going to be able to say this without sounding creepy or maybe even molestery (which I am, by the way, NOT!), but I’ll just tell this little story anyway:
The other day I was walking through the hallway where my kids go to school. One of the middle school girls walked about 20 feet ahead of me. She looked adorable. She had on this cute sweater with stylin’ jeans, and a pair of boots I wanted to yank right off her feet I loved them so much.
As I admired (and envied–oh, to have a mom to buy my clothes again!) her outfit, this zinger passed through my brain: And—oh!—to have that figure!
The girl couldn’t have been more than 13. Probably 12. And I’m jealous of her figure.
Creepy, right? But here’s the thing: While I’ve been a thin (even skinny and “chicken-legged” in the day) all my life, three kids in, I’ve got a bit of yuck around my middle that I cannot stand. Nearly every day I look at it and go, So NOW I get what lypo is all about! While in my brain, I think plastic surgery is an assault on one’s on body (though I understand there are some good reasons), all of a sudden, I find myself spacing out about lypo and tummy tucks. If I ever stop nursing (and my son is almost 2 and we’re going strong, people!), I’m sure the boob lift will enter my mind too.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not actually going to go through with this (even if I convinced myself it as a good idea, finances would keep it from happening)! And I realize getting back on that darned treadmill and maybe a few sit ups here and there would work wonders.
But beyond that, I wonder what we can do at the Mommy Revolution to glorify the mom bod. Do we commit to buying Dove products (especially if they want to send us freebies or advertise on our blog–hint, hint!) because they celebrate the “imperfect” female bodies? Do we boycott companies who continue to make us feel that the fat and flab that comes with the miracle of bearing and nourishing children is something to be ashamed of?
Do we all go buy new bikinis and fly to Hawaii and discuss this poolside in our mom-bod glory?
Carla: You are kind of creepy. But I must admit some jealousy over the very flat abs on teenage girls. Honestly, we weren’t built like that in my day, not even the skinny girls. And I say yes to free Dove stuff!!
But I digress.
As someone who has always carried a few more pounds than I’d like to, I wrestled with my body image long before I became a mom–I mean, I’ve been on a diet since I was 12. And in some weird way, motherhood has actually made me more comfortable with my body even as it has done a number on it, inside and out.
I remember not long after my oldest child was born, I saw some skinny girl and felt that usual jealousy creep up. But then I thought about the excellent work my body had done in growing and delivering a healthy baby. My wide hips made for a quick delivery. My extra padding made nursing easy and kept me well-stocked with extra resources for my own health. I was actually proud of my body for doing it’s work so well.
Of course, there is quite a lot of fallout–literally. I once said that after keeping three babies alive for a total of four years, the girls deserve to relax. And my various bones are never going back where they started. There are stretch marks in places I’d rather not have them and various other after-effects that I don’t need to go into on a non-medical blog. And while I’d still like to drop at least 10 pounds, I don’t fret about my body like I used to. There is just no getting back what used to be.
But I think there’s more than just the physical toll of pregnancy and childbirth that changes our bodies. They almost become a resource–implements of comfort and help and feeding and carrying and hauling–instead of something to be cared for or celebrated in any way.
And of course there’s the time factor and the whole message of self-sacrifice that can get in the way of caring for ourselves and our bodies. The whole “mom as martyr” thing can, I think, push us to hide behind bodies we might not like all that much because it makes us seem like we’ve given up more for our children.
I would love to hear from moms who didn’t give birth–adoptive moms, stepmoms, etc.–to find out how motherhood has shaped your feelings about your body.
Caryn: As would I. Do tell.