A friend recently invited me to participate in a webinar discussing the 4th trimester. More specifically a woman’s postpartum body. She and I chatted on camera about giving yourself time to rest and recover. We both spoke about taking it slow and loving yourself. I specifically said that a woman should appreciate her postpartum body and revel in the beautiful hard work that it had done.
Later that day as I watched the video of our chat I caught myself thinking “Wow, my legs look huge from that angle” and “I should have worn a different shirt my arms look heavy” I was quickly embarrassed that I had these thoughts. But they were lurking in the back of my mind like the throb of a headache refusing to go away. When this friend and I spoke again, she said,“I can’t believe how big my arms looked in that video we did!” We both kind of laughed off the fact that we had these thoughts.
The irony of the situation is not lost on either of us. Here we are recording a video telling women to appreciate and care for their postpartum bodies and all we can see are the flaws in our own. I wish I could say this was the first (and last) time I had derogatory thoughts about my body. The truth is especially this time of year when bathing suit season is upon us the topic of mom bodies and our perceived flaws comes up often in the conversation between my friends and I. We laugh about it, make self-deprecating jokes and change the subject before we get too deep.
I just turned 36 years old, and I’ve decided I am tired of feeling this way about my body. My body has done a lot in its 36 years. It has danced, run a half marathon (just one. I’m not crazy!), lifted weights, carried three babies for nine-plus months and birthed them. My body provided food for my children; my hips have propped them up when they couldn’t walk. It’s provided a soft place for them to land when they needed comfort. But even after all it has done I still struggle to love it just the way it is. I’ve decided that I am going to begin to work towards loving my body. But I need some practical steps to help me in this new territory of postpartum body love. Here are a few ways I am going to do this:
1. Accept compliments – I will say thank you when someone compliments me. I will not try and explain it away or deflect the praise.
2. No self-deprecating talk – I will not make negative comments about my physical appearance. Even if in jest. None.
3. I WILL practice positive self-talk- I will compliment something about my physical appearance daily. I will say things in front of my daughters like “I love how strong my legs look today!”
4. I will take my cover up off. I might even jump off the diving board!
5. I will not stand for other women to talk harmfully about their bodies. I will gently encourage them to stop and tell them the positive things I see.
Will you join me in practicing these five things?