Hello. My name is A'Driane, but most people know me these days as addyeB.
What most people don't know about me is that I've been carrying a lot of shame about my body....
My body is imperfect, you see, or at least that's what society tells me.
All the commercials, all the clothing, all the "how celebrity so-and-so got her body back after baby" messages? They come flying at me from all different directions, all with the same shame inducing message:
You're not beautiful. You don't measure up. You're not perfect. Your body is ugly and it needs to be changed.
Even all the weightloss ads I see have a message that says, "You aren't healthy or taking good care of yourself unless you're an "ideal" "healthy" weight" hiding behind their glossy, eat well, feel good, get active exterior.
This time last year I was obsessed with changing my body. I was nearing 12 mos postpartum and hadn't shed an ounce of the 41 pounds I gained during pregnancy. No amount of compliments or reassuring from my ex could keep me from telling myself I was fat, ugly, sloppy, frumpy, gross, unattractive...you name it, I said it-to myself.
I hated myself and my body. Mentally I was battling PPD and the first stages of triggered Bipolar Disorder. Emotionally my self esteem and sense of worth were in lost in a sewer somewhere and physically I was trying to force my body harder and harder each day to change into an ideal it wasn't.
Can you blame me? I mean with all the messages in our culture that place us in this pressure cooker to fit a certain standard of beauty, and with celebrities telling us to "reclaim" our bodies, how the hell are we as women not supposed to succumb to this insanity?
The desire to be pretty enough. Wanted enough. Attractive enough. It's all a machine designed to make us feel like we are never enough.
On one hand, I get it. Pregnancy is a beautiful experience....or at least it's supposed to be right? But let's be honest ladies-it's hell. It's pure hell on our bodies-EVERYTHING CHANGES. Our bodies morph into these foreign versions of ourselves we don't recognize. Our body functions not to take care of us, but to instead nuture, protect, and incubate the well being and survival of someone else. So it's no wonder women may feel like they need to reclaim themselves after enduring 9 months of that PLUS the average 2 year time doctors say it takes for a full recovery from childbirth.
But on the other hand, who says that the body we have before baby should be reclaimed? Who says that type of body is the only one that is beautiful? Why can't a body that's been broken by one of life's most awesome and creepy miracles be considered beautiful?
Sagging breasts? I got em. But they only sag because they swelled to porn star heights while I breastfed my boys and then deflated when I was done...and I didn't always wear the "appropriate" bra, but who has time to do that when you're sleep deprived?
I'm not the ideal. I'm not "perfect." I don't have trainers, spanx, and weightloss gurus tailoring my work outs and nutrition.
But you know what? After battling so hard last year to change my post baby body and seeing the scale never dip back below 170, I've come to realize a couple of things.
1. My self-esteem and self-image issues are more than skin deep. I didn't like the way I look physically because I didn't love myself. Body acceptance is more than just loving yourself once you reach a certain physical goal. I also had to learn that it's about loving who YOU are to begin with. I also had to learn that just because I may want to get healthy doesn't mean that I DON'T love myself. It just means I want to be just that: HEALTHY. What healthy is for each person is different, so I'm still learning how to not compare myself with others. It's not easy.
2. I realized that you know what? I don't want all that celebrities have. I don't need nor do I want the pressure of having to fit an ideal that is neither realistic or healthy.
So I'm ditching our culture's definition of perfection and beauty after we've had children. A post pregnancy body is a gloriously beautiful one because of what it DID: nurtured and gave life through the hardest and most painful of times.
I'm redefining my definition of "imperfection." My body isn't imperfect. It's beautiful. I'm grateful that I have it and that it gave me my children. It gave me the best parts of me...the parts that I need the most when the worst parts of me malfunction and have me feeling less than.
In a weird way I guess you can say that my body put it's foot down the past year and has been teaching me what it means to just. be. enough.
This is a Self-Love Saturday post, but I was inspired to write it after
- Casey from over at Moosh in indy put out a call for some courageous women to highlight their post baby bellies. (see here)
- I saw this post a year ago and it made me cry: http://starvingartistink.com/the-shape-of-a-mother/
- I visited The Shape of a Mother
- I read some posts over at Just Be Enough, so I'm linking this post up with them :)