Body Image – noun; the subjective picture or mental image of one’s own body.
I know what I want to say to myself, but it just doesn’t happen easily. It’s a constant battle in my head… You look amazing! You worked so hard and you’re so strong! Yes, my hair actually looks good. My bags under my eyes aren’t that noticeable, right? Ugh, you’re so fat. My skin is disgusting. I have nothing to wear. I hate my clothes. You’re so gross. I don’t feel pretty. My body image perception needs some work.
I find myself saying these things in front of my daughter even though I know I’m not supposed to. It’s so innate. It takes a lot of self-reflection and correction to change the way we think and speak especially about ourselves.
Recently, Meghan and I heard a younger woman talking about how big her thighs were, and we pumped the breaks right away! “No, no, no! You have no idea how incredible you look! You’re amazing. You’re young and beautiful. Do not waste time thinking you’re not. Wait until you have babies. Wait until you get old.” I wanted to shake her and make her realize how gorgeous she is and to appreciate her youthfulness. Looking back at pictures of my younger self, I can’t believe the things I used to think. Why did I ever think I was fat and not pretty? Thank goodness there wasn’t all the social media platforms there are now!
Even through other stages of life, I remember having different opinions of myself and my body. I think back to when I had my daughter. I’ll never forget the day I brought her home from the hospital. I lifted my shirt and looked into the mirror, and was so proud of myself. I can remember that very feeling… I could cry. I grew a beautiful healthy baby, and now I was feeding her too. That mommy pouch of mine was amazing!
Then months later that mommy pouch was still there.
I didn’t lose it, while breastfeeding my daughter like others did. I was still not fitting into some of my old clothes, probably still wearing some maternity clothes. I was mortified. Why wasn’t my body going back to the way it was before?? By 18 months, it finally all came off, and I felt even stronger than I did before having my daughter.
Recently, I had a conversation with another mom about how her weight was not coming off, and how she is always hungry. Well, your body needs those calories and so do those babies! In that small window of time we think the worst because it seems like an eternity. Then when the time passes, the weight comes off, and your body goes back to “normal,” we can admire it for the amazing work it did- fed little humans! The female body is the coolest thing in my opinion.
I worked out the whole time I was pregnant with my son and bounced back quickly by working out through my maternity leave (thank you, barre classes!). I was in the best shape of my life both physically and mentally. Then a few weeks back at work I had a panic attack and was medicated. I didn’t gain weight until this past year. Now I’m learning how my body has changed, how to accept it, and what I want to work on to become more healthy in all aspects of my life.
I was so hard on myself. My body image was negative.
I look back at pictures of myself as a mom. I can’t believe how hard I was on myself on some days. I was pumping, working, being mommy, and more. I’m realizing now that I am strong. I am healthy and I am pretty. Most days I think I’m the prettiest when I have no makeup and an after workout glow. I accept, appreciate, and respect my body.
Recently, I created a post to wish my dad a happy birthday. The picture I posted was of my dad and me on my wedding day. Someone commented on the photo that I looked much thinner. Most people would probably be horrified. Someone suggested that I delete it. My perspective on the situation is much different. I laughed. Yes, I was much thinner. Be aware! Kids, stress and work will suck the life out of you. LOL.
On a more serious note, I’m a “victim” of our ignorant society.
We expect women to look young and thin, and to stay the same weight after growing little humans and not sleeping. Oh yeah, and we can never age. HELLO?! I believe that we can be better. We can change. That change can happen with me and other mommies. We can be more positive to ourselves first. We can love ourselves by making more positive comments so we can be the right role models for our daughters and sons. Yes, we need to change the perspective that the men have in our lives too.
Young people, love yourself. Love your body! Love yourself for all that you are. You are beautiful! I can’t say this enough to my daughter. Yes, I was younger, more beautiful, and thinner. But now I have knowledge and that is power.
“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.” Be kind to yourself. Be kind to one another. Because LOVE always wins.