It’s been 15 months since I gave birth. Before I had her I heard the “it’s 9 months up, so 9 months to go down!” so many times and thought with enthusiasm “Oh that’s totally reasonable! I can do that!”. Well here we are, 14 months later and I haven’t lost my baby weight. I see photo after photo of mamas struggling with accepting their bodies and then saying “No but I LOVE MY NEW MOM BOD!”. As if we believe them, and guess what they are all thinner than me. We’ve got an issue in the body positivity corner of the internet, and it starts with MOM BOD. We’ve got women who want to be the face of the body positive movement who look like they’ve never had children. Yes of course it’s possible, and even probable, that they have struggled with accepting their new bodies. Everyone’s body changes when they have children. However, for those of us who have ALWAYS struggled with weight, or god forbid with disordered eating seeing women praise their “new mom curves” stings a bit. Especially when they are the picture of what society already deems as acceptable. I’m not saying they should stop, only that I should start.
I’m not saying they should stop,
only that I should start.
I’m going to admit it here and now, I don’t love my body. I don’t. When I take photos I make sure my baby blocks my center, that I slouch in just the right way to make the fabric over my stomach seem loose. That I make sure nothing is posted with a double chin or that shows my upper arms no matter how happy I was when I took that photo. But I DO love what it has done. What it built. What it’s capable of. But after a long traumatic labor I was really angry with my body. Then add to that a year of trying to get it to go back to close to how it was before (while knowing I didn’t even like it then) and I’m more frustrated than ever. But I’ve got to go further and I need to say to myself daily, “You did something good, you built a strong amazing child and for that you are amazing”. I need to stop punishing myself.
We need to stop trying to “bounce back”. We don’t have to be the women we were before. We aren’t in any other way are we? We are now so much more. We’ve pushed ourselves in new ways we didn’t see coming and should be able to acknowledge that our bodies are doing the same. So I’m not going to go on another diet. I’m not going to do Whole 30 with a group of friends (though if that’s what you want to do, good for you I just see it for the self hate hole it is, for myself). I’m not going to spend money on special food. I’m not going to pressure myself to lose this weight, because I know that I’m going to change again. I plan on having more children after all. And if it comes with another 10 lbs I’m not going to hate myself (or I’m going to try really hard not to). This weight that we carry isn’t just physical after all. I’m carrying the worry for my child every time she gets a cold, or sleeps too long, or gets new teeth. I carry the weight of the world, the worry that it’s an unsafe place (it is) and of being a good role model for her. I carry the weight of our home, and bills, our businesses, our extended families and our friends love lives. I carry it all. So if that amounts to 10 pounds more than I once was I think, goddamnit that’s fucking reasonable!
I carry the weight of the world, the worry that it’s an unsafe place (it is) and of being a good role model for my child.
I’m not a big fan of sitcoms but there is one that has a lead that resonates with me, it’s called American Housewife (I know cue the eyerolls but stay with me). The lead is Katy Mixon. She’s full figured and I don’t mean in the way that Orange County moms like to suggest when they are over a size 6. She’s clearly plus sized. The blondes around her love to point it out, and guess what SHE DOESN’T CARE. She enjoys her body, she enjoys eating, she knows her husband thinks she’s sexy. SHE IS THE MOM I WANT TO BE. But probably I’d add more cursing since it’s on ABC you know that mom would say fuck at least once a day, after all she’s got 3 fucking kids.
Yesterday I had an experience. I went with 6 women, most older than myself by around 10 years (I’m not sure why but my friends have always been a bit older than myself) to a Korean Spa. Not everyone knows this but Korean spas are generally nude. You go inside, it’s all women, you get buck naked and you hit up the numerous hot and cold tubs. Not a single one of us was happy with our bodies. Even the beautiful 6 foot tall amazonian goddess I’m friends with (in fact she might have been the least comfortable). One thing was made clear to me in those moments when the steam was rolling around and we were laughing so hard we were afraid we might have peed in the pool, we were all in need of this. This normalizing of our bodies. This self care. This letting go of the layers of weight that we put on ourselves to be perfect, to appear thin and unblemished. Then we all went and got scrubbed down within an inch of our lives by tiny little Korean ladies who didn’t speak English. We shone like newborn babes and laughed with a fresh sense of center. We all had been spending so much time caring for others we had left very little to ourselves. To what we needed to feel good. I was so glad my genius friend Sarah had planned her own birthday celebration that meant we all got a day off. One day to reset.
I do hope that this will sink in, and we can all look in the mirror and ignore that voice that says “you should be back to the way you were before already”. Because maybe some of us can, but maybe we shouldn’t have to be. Instead I’m going to buy new pants. I’m going to stop weighing myself. I’m going to buy only the good stuff (balanced and healthy) to put in my kitchen and know that it’s enough. I’m going to go back to the gym to be strong enough to keep up with my kid not to get back into my pre-pregnancy jeans (you know the ones you never really liked anyways because yoga pants ARE BETTER). And if I hear one more mom say that she loves her mom bod while detailing her new diet plan I may scream, don’t be alarmed I just need to get that out. I’m not gonna let go of this weight. It’s part of me now, just like every thing that got me here.