Last night I sat around a table in a restaurant with three strong, smart, kind, loving, inspirational women. Women who are beautiful in so many ways, who I admire hugely, and who are a credit to my gender. Women I want my two daughters to look up to. I sat with these women involved in conversations about so many different things, but the one that stuck out to me was when we talked about how fat we all are.
I talked about my mummy tummy and how fat my legs are now. They talked about their thighs, bums, bellies. How many pounds they want to lose from here or there.
These women who are healthy, incredible and fabulous trashed their own amazing bodies. I, who gave birth less than a month ago, complained about my body that created my beautiful Baby B and still shows the evidence.
And you know what sucks? We did it in front my little girls.
Baby B is too young to notice, but Miss Rose? Miss Rose will hear. Miss Rose will take note. Miss Rose who loves my squishy tummy and my stretchmarks, blows raspberries on my skin and cuddles into me, Miss Rose who I try to make sure she focusses on her qualities as a person and her intelligence and strength. This impressionable little girl who adores her mummy and I teach to respect the words and opinions of these women we were with, she heard us trashing our own bodies. Complaining about our weight.
Lying in bed last night I thought about it. I felt awful.
I promised myself that I wouldn’t give myself a hard time about the baby weight. I haven’t stopped having treats, I haven’t started an exercise regime to tone up. I’m doing what I promised myself I would do which is to focus on my big girl, my baby girl, my family, and my career. The things in my life that actually matter most. NOT whether my body has gone back to what it was before Baby B because, quite frankly, that’s a stupid thing to worry about. It’s a stupid thing to focus on. My body before Baby B was a body that had only had one baby and years before, not a body that had a second baby less than a month ago. AND it was just my body. It was my body not my mind, my heart, my feelings. Just a body. A body that needs healthy food and exercise to function properly of course, and a body that I need to maintain to live a good life, but it’s not the most important thing to focus on in the world. It’s not the thing that makes me me.
With this body, this squishy body riddled with stretch marks that can’t get into her pre-pregnancy jeans and wobbles when I walk, what do I have? I have my amazing little girls. I have my step-son. I have my wonderful partner who loves me and fancies me. I have my amazing family across both sides, I have my lovely friends. I have my career which, whilst small now, has huge potential to grow into my dream job. I have my home, my pets. I have, quite frankly, everything.
What don’t I have? I don’t have a size 8 body anymore.
Of everything in the world I could dream of having, everything in the world I could want, I don’t have one thing. And do I actually want a size 8 body again? I wouldn’t complain, but in my heart it’s not actually something I dream of. When I dream of my life goals, that isn’t one of them. And neither should it be. Health, happiness, love. They’re the things I want. A body that doesn’t wobble in places is irrelevant.
So why do I do it? Why do I automatically fall into a pattern of body shaming myself? What has programmed me to allow myself to focus on the negatives of my body that actually aren’t negatives at all, they’re just perceived negatives. Perceived by only myself, not those around me. Not one person has shamed me for my body. Of course, if I were to display it online for critique I know the garbage that would be thrown at me because I’ve seen other women be the victims of it, but those opinions are not the ones that matter. The opinions that matter to me are of the people I love and respect.
Would I shame anyone else for my body? No. Not a chance. I am surrounded by women of all ages with bodies bigger, smaller, taller, shorter, curvier, slimmer, etc etc. Women who are different in every way imaginable. Do I see anything wrong with them? No. Is there anything wrong with them? No. Nothing. So why do I hold myself to higher, more unkind, standards than I do everyone else on the whole planet? And do I want my daughters to copy that pattern of behaviour? What programming has been done to me by society, by the people around me, that makes me treat myself like that?
I am going to stop it. I’m not going to shame my body anymore. Or at least not in front of my daughters, and I’ll try not to do it at all anyway. Because the truth is a) my body is amazing (look at the wonderful little girls that I built with it) and b) It makes me feel sick to my core that one day these girls will start to copy this attitude from me. I am going to teach them to eat right for their health, exercise for their strength, and value their brains and hearts over their looks.
My body is amazing. My body is amazing. My body is amazing.
But more importantly my body is not who I am. It is just what I live in. And I need to respect it more, respect everything it accomplishes for me every day more. And I need to teach my little girls that who they are is amazing, and what their bodies can do is amazing. And if they learn that I will be far prouder than if I ever fit into size 8 jeans again!
It’s time to stop body shaming, and start person loving. For myself, but mostly for my little girls.