I remember how fat I thought I was before I had kids. I wasn’t. I remember the million and one ways in which areas of my body weren’t perfect, fit or smooth enough.
I remember shopping in popular stores while I lived in New York, and things never really fitting. I’m tall.
Body dysmorphia in women isn’t new. I’ve seen enough cases to know that it’s horrible and insidious and should be treated like a mental virus that we choose to uproot in our personal journeys when ready.
We often overcome it – as I did in my case – through love. Because despite gaining 70 pounds with my first, and then keeping most of it on for the next 5 years as we had two more babies, I felt beautiful.
I was no longer looking “athletic.” I was now directly in the mother zone, and I reveled in it.
I gave little stock to the scale or the onlookers – who seemed to jive with my new size and newly-found confidence – and flung approving looks my way.
I felt mostly good, even as pregnancy is one of the most physically challenging endeavors we embark upon as women. It’s deeply exhausting and full of potential terrors as we navigate genetic tests, sugar tests, everyone telling you how to do it “right”, and the beloved hormones- who may be singlehandedly responsible for many many breakups.
After my third kid, I almost fell apart. I was absolutely exhausted and sensed that my body was depleted, despite my ongoing attempts to eat nutrient dense foods.
Attacking myself for not “snapping back”, as a huge new Instagram trend was going (and gone), was not going to be on the menu. I needed time. To be. To sleep. To rest. To remember who I was outside of diapers and perpetual nursing and children with different sleep schedules.
I also worked. Through all my pregnancies and after, taking off only a few months each time.
Working from home helped. Living in Hawaii helped. The Samoan men were especially delighted by me, and years of garbage self-talk seemed to melt away even as I – literally – hobbled around. I had cracked one of the small bones in my foot. No Xrays would prove it because I couldn’t get one, but my Birkenstock was unevenly worn down on the right foot, and the buckles were loosened by at least one notch as compared to my left. True story.
As we round out after having kids and discover that things changed – within us physiologically and emotionally – the “snapping back” needs to be done with a ton of compassion for yourself and your body. You just made a baby. Your body needs love, peace and good nutrition. Not criticism – from anyone, least alone yourself.
In a world where women compare themselves all the time. In a world where as women, we’ve been taught to compete with other women, drop it at least as it pertains to yourself. Everyone has their moments of insecurity, but there is nothing greater than the smile of a beautiful woman – no matter her shape or size – when you tell her she looks amazing. Or that you like her funky shorts.
Someone noticed. Of course we notice. Women are here to be noticed. Let’s begin to notice what we love about ourselves too.