I’ve been seeing a trend on social media that encourages women to love their bodies. These posts are aimed especially at women who have children and they urge mothers to embrace their stretch marks, rolls and love-handles as marks of pride. As one woman put it, They are your tiger stripes. Wear them proudly.
I LOVE THIS. I love that we are at a time in society where we are talking about the sheer beauty of what a woman’s body goes through during pregnancy, childbirth and after. I love that we are pushing both men AND women to look at the body as unique and magical. It’s about freakin’ time.
Maybe it’s just me–and I feel like a horrible person for even saying this out loud–but as much as I’m vibing this positive message to other women out there, I’m having a hard time accepting it for myself. I’ve had three kids and I’m 5’2– there wasn’t really anywhere for them to grow except out. And I was late with each of them, by weeks…so my body incubated those little suckers until the last possible moment. This led me to have beautiful, healthy children but also left me with a lot of legitimate body issues. Let me explain:
I have to literally tuck my extra belly skin into my jeans and zip them up. Sexy, right? I finally understand the mom jeans of the 90’s– the high-wasted, thick denim sucks all the flab in and buttons it up into a nice little package. I work out, I eat right and yet there is still this nagging pouch of skin that makes old women say, Congrats! When are you due? Or my friend’s five-year-old question aloud, Is there a baby in there? Yes or no?
There’s many parts of my youth that I miss but none so much as my perky boobies. They used to stand at attention, surveying the landscape out of the scoop of my neckline. But with each child they became more deflated. They’re like Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree– they gave until they had nothing left to give, save for their company.
I haven’t reached my full pancake-ass potential, but I feel like I am doing squats just to hold off the inevitable. I eat a muffin and I glance over my shoulder, half expecting to see a little muffin shaped outline on my bottom. Because let’s be honest folks, that’s exactly where it’s going.
Getting older brings it’s inescapable indignities. Three pregnancies, three children, no sleep, too much coffee, years in the sun, and always losing my glasses has led my skin down an even more perilous path. I’m doing my best; I’ve actually started to wash my skin daily. I put on sunscreen. But there is only so much a serum/cream/wash can do– it cannot reverse time or let me sleep through the night. It cannot un-do my smile lines or reverse the perma-grimace that comes with changing poopy diapers for five years straight.
I’ve discussed this horrible phenomenon before– but I have to bring it up again; pregnancy made my already wide feet even wider. They kind of look like hobbit feet, sans the hair (thank God for small miracles). But squeezing those babies into heels or even just plunking those bad boys around in flip-flops is an exercise of acceptance. Last time I went to get a pedicure I swear I heard the woman gasp. She turned to her fellow beautician and mumbled something that I could not understand but I’m pretty sure she said, Holy shit. This lady has giant feet. What can she be– five feet tall? Look at these things! Do you think she wears her husband’s shoes?
I just feel like these body issues are frustrating to me. And they’re legitimate. I’m not pointing to one small imperfection and making a big deal out of it–it’s an overall, general complaint. I don’t think I should feel guilty for not completely embracing this post-baby body. For as much as we should welcome bodies of all different shapes and sizes, we should also welcome the range of emotions that come along with them– like the longing for the body of a younger woman who has had far less children and time to take of herself.
Honestly, sometimes I take off my clothes and I’m just like
To all the women who have the ability to take a step back and embrace their post-baby bodies– GOOD FOR YOU! YOU ALL ARE AMAZING.
I am not amazing. I am sometimes petty. And a little vane. I see women out there with tight bods and porn boobs and I can’t help but be envious. I don’t think this makes me less of a woman or anti-feminist or unreasonable. Women have a rainbow of post-baby emotions and we cannot all fit into one box. I say LOVE YOUR BODY. Appreciate what it gave you. But it’s also OK to be honest and say, My tiger stripes, though created by my greatest loves, are not my pride and joy. I’m not ashamed of my body but I don’t think that I should be expected to squeal with joy every time I see one nipple pointing South while the other points North.
God forbid I yearn to be a lady again and put on a pair of pants without tucking my goddamn belly into them.