Reflection isn’t normally how I spend my mornings, there is too much hustle and chaos for that. But this morning I had a little more time on my hands and the reflective thinking began. It was as I was pulling on my jeans, and raising the band over my expanding bump, that I realised for the first time in my life I am actually comfortable with my body. It is the first time in my life that I’m not worried about the size of my thighs or positioning my arms so they don’t look too big in photos. I am as I am, having already grown one person inside of me, and now busy at work growing a second life.
How many times over the years have I looked in the mirror and hated parts of what I saw? My body image has never been my whole identity, but it has affected me in it’s own way. Years of feeling self-conscious about what I am wearing and, much to hubby’s despair, changing my outfit 5-10 times before we walk out the door. Years of whinging with girlfriends about this saggy bit or the other.
I started this pregnancy a few kilos heavier than my last. Working from home and a general feeling of comfort in my life didn’t help with that situation. But the difference between this pregnancy and my last is my mindset. My first pregnancy was an excuse to eat for two. But this time, perhaps due to a distinct lack of time to sit on the couch and consume whatever I can dig out of the pantry, I am more focused on just eating what I need to, to nourish myself and my baby. That’s not to stay that I don’t jump on cravings when they strike, a pregnant woman’s gotta have what a pregnant woman’s gotta have after all!
I partially think it is this view of eating to nourish rather than eating for comfort or just because, has helped me shift my mindset about my body. It is no longer this entity separate to my own, one to be examined and picked at. Scorned for it’s lumpy shapes and bits that won’t change. But my body is me and look what it has done for me. It has grown life. It has brought me 32 years into this journey of life. It allows me to get up each day and explore the world with my daughter. Sure it lets me down sometimes, but no one is perfect.
It was actually my maternity jeans that encouraged this whole train of thought. As I picked which jeans to wear this morning I had two options. A pair of bootcut jeans I had purchased in my first pregnancy, or a slim cut style I had purchased this time around. Pre motherhood I never ever would have considered wearing anything that showed the shape of my curvy legs. And I don’t think the trends have changed that much in two years, it is me that has changed.
I now wear fitted dresses to proudly show off my bump. And the stripes that I avoided for years in case they made me look wider, are now a staple in my wardrobe. I dress for what makes me feel good, not for how I think the world sees me. The world is a better place with a happy and comfortable me in it.
And while it is my pregnancy that has made me realise how my mindset has changed, it is something that began the day I held my daughter in my arms for the first time. How could I hate the vessel that brought her to me? Sure there are things in my body that I would like to change but that is more for a health and vitality reason than how I feel I look in the mirror. By loving myself and my body, those decisions that affect my health are easier and the path to them much clearer.
Learning to love your body isn’t an easy thing to do. And it’s not something I consciously set out to do. It is a by product of wanting to be the best version of myself for my daughter. She is perfect in my eyes and, until she reaches her teenage years, I in hers. But what message am I sending her if I pick at my faults and can’t even love myself. So love myself and my body is what I am going to do, flaws and all. As my stretch marks fade over time, my love for my children will grow. But my stretch marks will always be a reminder of the journey I have come on, and I’m ok with that.
Do you struggle with your body image? Have you had a similar breakthrough? I would love to hear about it. If you don’t feel comfortable writing in the comments, please do email me firstname.lastname@example.org x
Image by Someday Somehow Studios.
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