I’ve recently been making a concerted effort to be a lot more positive about my body, especially in front of my children. Partly for my own sake, it’s draining feeling rubbish about yourself, but mostly so they don’t learn that slamming your own body all the time is healthy or good. Leading by example, you might call it.
Yesterday my oldest girl, Miss Rose who’s nearly four, asked me why I have stripes on my belly.
I told her because I’d been lucky enough to grow two babies in there, and that she and her baby sister left marks on my skin to remind me that they’d been there.
“They’re beautiful,” she told me, gently putting her hand on my squashy, stripe covered mummy tummy. “I want stripes on my belly too.”
I reassured her that one day, if she’s very lucky, she’ll get to have a baby grow in her tummy. And when that happens that baby will leave a little reminder for her too.
“Why do you need reminding?” she asked me.
I told her that when she goes away to school or to visit her nanny, I get to touch my tummy and feel where she used to live, and look at my skin and see the little marks she left for me, and I can still feel close to her. That even when she’s far away from me, the little marks from where she used to be are still here, and it makes mummy feel happy to see them. I told her that even when she’s big and grown and goes off to make a baby on her own, the marks she left for me will still be here with me.
I said thank you. Thank you for leaving me these marks on my tummy. Thank you for making sure no matter how far away I am from my beautiful girls I can always see these little marks and feel close to them. Thank you for my stretch marks.
We had a cuddle and she was happy.
It would have been easy to say “urgh, they’re stretch marks” which is how I often feel. Disgusting imperfections on my skin. Gross lines that magazines try to convince me are ugly and sell me expensive things to get rid of them with. Marks that I am ashamed to admit I’ve been embarrassed by before.
But in reality what I said is also true. They are beautiful marks left for me by my babies, and they do act as a constant reminder for the beautiful little humans I’ve grown and sent out into the world.
So it wasn’t a lie. I don’t like to lie to her. But I don’t need to tell her how gross I sometimes feel for having them. Because I shouldn’t feel gross and I don’t want to feel gross.
A mum’s body is amazing and we did an amazing thing, and our little people left us reminders of that amazing thing that we will keep with us when they’re long grown and gone. They’re special. We are lucky to have beautiful stripes on our bellies.
Plus now she won’t grow up afraid of getting them herself… or at least not until some magazine starts telling her they’re disgusting and shaming her for just being a woman. That day will come. That day will suck. But I’ll still be there, telling her they’re beautiful. Thanking her for leaving me mine!
If you have any thoughts do let me know, you can check out my website www.jjbarnes.co.uk with links to my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where you can add me and follow me and get in touch. I try to respond to everything I get sent!
Also there are links to the podcasts I work on, including The Writer Mum Podcast, and also links to my novels.
So check it out and get in touch xx