When I look in the mirror in my most raw and vulnerable state, staring back at me is a body covered in scars, marks, and fleshy skin. My stomach is not flat and tight, but rather readjusting from stretching itself to take on a different kind of beauty that comes with carrying life. The backs of my thighs are riddled with grooves and dimples, previously preparing a way for my baby to enter the world. My waist continues to hold on to those extra inches, which sustained my body to hold the weight of a growing child in my womb, and my face is still slightly more round, all the more to smile back with to my cooing baby.
I am sick of the tiresome and grueling pressure I feel as a woman to achieve a picturesque body, especially after having a baby. Our society inundates women with images of how we should and should not look — moms should be thin specimens of proof that having a baby doesn’t ruin your body; moms should take pride in not “letting go” of themselves (I hate that saying); moms shouldn’t be fat and frumpy; moms shouldn’t use motherhood as an excuse to not maintain a fit and chiseled body.
I vehemently disagree with all of that nonsense with all the passion my motherly and “flawed” body holds.
One of my favorite quotes is from Eat, Pray, Love, when Elizabeth Gilbert is talking about the unrealistic standards of the female body image, and her final surrender to release herself from its confines.
“Let me ask you something. In all the years that you have … undressed in front of a gentleman, has he ever asked you to leave? Has he ever walked out and left? No? It’s because he doesn’t care! He’s in a room with a naked girl, he just won the lottery. I am so tired of saying no, waking up in the morning and recalling every single thing I ate the day before, counting every calorie I consumed so I know just how much self loathing to take into the shower. I’m going for it. I have no interest in being obese, I’m just through with the guilt. So this is what I’m going to do, I’m going to finish this pizza, and then we are going to go watch the soccer game, and tomorrow we are going to go on a little date and buy ourselves some bigger jeans.”
Clap, clap, clap! Bravo, Elizabeth Gilbert! Thank you for putting what we women feel into such delightful and relatable words. Isn’t it the truth, though? I have absolutely no interest in being obese, and I certainly have no interest in measuring up, or rather down, to the inches and pounds of models and celebrities tormented with eating disorders. I’m tired of everyone treating sugar likes it’s anthrax. I wholeheartedly believe in putting healthy, clean foods in my body, coupled with exercising, but I wholeheartedly believe in balance and enjoying life, too. And in my case, that comes in the form of a double layered chocolate cake.
Like Elizabeth, I am done sabotaging my self-confidence with a deluded sense of self-image. I can confidently say I am at a point in my life where I am beginning to truly love myself, imperfections and foibles included. I love my scars and soft, flimsy midsection. You know, I’m even beginning to love my cellulite if you can believe it. And it’s because I am a woman. My body was made to be curvy and stretched and marked in order to give life. And I wear those womanly, motherhood badges proudly.
Be on your hungry way, Post-Baby Body Complex. I don’t want you, and I definitely don’t need you.