Who else struggles with learning to love your body? 🙋🏻‍♀️ I know I’m not the only one, right?

I’ve seen lots of posts about wearing your stripes as a mom and embracing those stretch marks.

Hell… I’ve written some of them! But deep down on the inside… I have not always loved my postpartum (or pre-baby) body. The prospect of learning to love your body, it’s easier said than done.

(Trigger Warning for body image and eating disorders.)

Worthiness, Body Image, and Perfectionism

Is it possible to divorce body image from motherhood nowadays? Is it possible to divorce body image from just being a woman at all?

How much of your life have you spent worried about the way you looked?

How your body looked in the mirror?

How much fat you did or did not have?

If you’re like me, you remember spending all of Junior High worrying about how “fat” you were because one boy said when you put on a yellow coat people think you’re the school bus during homeroom.

It didn’t take long for me to dabble in bulimia until I found these diet pills my dad had been using. You know back in the early 2000’s they basically put cocaine in them? Not literally, but the drugs in the diet pills they sold back then were somewhere on the scale between caffeine and cocaine. No joke.

I used to pop a handful of them in the morning. I remember being totally buzzed and feeling like I was going to jump out of my seat in first-period Chemistry class.

Then, I eventually started smoking cigarettes.

Had that little habit from about 15-16 until I decided I wanted to start trying to get pregnant with my first child around 27. I even relapsed into smoking again while I wasn’t pregnant.

When I finally quit for the last time, I gained 20 lbs.

So beyond the stretch marks and saggy boobs, I was the heaviest I had ever been besides when actually pregnant.

The thing about it is that I was also the healthiest I had been my entire adult life with the added weight.

I wasn’t smoking, I was eating fairly healthy besides the occasional cheeseburger or piece of chocolate, I was walking nearly every day while pushing a double stroller, and I was emotionally stronger than ever before.

Why then was I unable to shake this feeling of complete unworthiness due to my weight?

This whole learning to love your body thing really is a bitch sometimes.

No matter how good of a mom I was. No matter how smart and knowledgable, resilient, strong, or spiritual, there was this nagging wound that just wouldn’t close.

This wound that told me I would never be enough until I was “perfect” on the inside and out. That I will always be unworthy of love, abundance, and praise unless I can check every single box on some imaginary list society has programmed into my mind.

And now, motherhood reveals itself as not a curse to my body, or something that has “ruined” my body.

(Check out this FB post I wrote in the throes of postpartum with my twins.)

 

Slaying Perfectionism with Your Postpartum Body

I have finally come to realize that becoming a mother and all that has meant for my body has been a blessing.

Why?

Not just because of the obvious results, those cherubic little humans who have stolen my heart. While they are the greatest gift, there is another one that I have been given.

I have a lot fewer fucks to give and a lot more reason to question the stories I had been fed my whole life.

Sure, I cringe a little bit when I get that bathing suit out. Is it just me, or are there none out there made for someone like me? Someone who isn’t quite plus-sized, but also a little chubby? Someone who’s 5’2 with like G cup breastfeeding boobies? They’re just not comfortable and not flattering.

My number one concern now isn’t how I look though. It’s literally ensuring the safety of my kids while at a pool or beach. I have less mental space to even consider my own appearance beyond that initial twinge when I get dressed.

And as I think about why I even have the little twinge and cringe as I look in the mirror while getting dressed, I stop and wonder why.

I wonder why I should actually not look at my body and see it as something sexy and beautiful. Perfect as it is.

There is nothing that is objectively wrong with it. Is there some rulebook that God himself (herself?) handed down to humans stating that stretch marks and flabby bellies were bad?

If anything, we seem to be specifically designed to NOT be perfect since in order to attain whatever the current definition of perfection is requires a lot of money, and potentially getting plastic surgery to physically alter your appearance. (Which, of course, if that’s your thing, go for it. Whatever makes you feel good.)

The more and more I thought about it, the more I felt this need to rebel.

This need to rebel even against the judge that resides in my own mind. To say…

“Yeah, I have a belly and stretch marks. Let me slip into this bikini and just show them off.”

No more hiding. Especially from myself. The truth is that when you worry about what your body looks like, no one really cares. Who else really cares what your body looks like, besides you?

Of course, there will always be that one negative judger out there, but they are truthfully few and far between.

Who Cares Anyway?

Everyone else is too worried about their own imperfections to really give two shits about yours.

And when I see a mom rocking a bathing suit and showing off all that she’s got going on, I just feel hella proud of her and slightly envious. Because as much as I try, and underneath any bravado and body positivity there is still this little voice I am working on rooting out that tells me I’m not good enough.

I see a mom in a bathing suit letting it all hang out, and I wish I was her because I assume she has more confidence than I do.

Though perhaps she’s just like me.

Trying.

Trying to love her body even if it isn’t “perfect” because it’s perfect for her. Learning to love your body isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time and patience with yourself.

I haven’t mastered the art of body positivity yet. I may never. I might never be able to completely eradicate the judgmental voice inside of me, but I will be sure to do my best to love myself even when that voice is screaming at me.

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