Something momentous happened today. At 6 months postpartum, and after months of continuously trying on my pre-pregnancy jeans, they fit. They FIT!
And that’s not even the momentous part. The momentous part is this: I’ve decided that it’s not going to be momentous at all. No social media posts. No texting friends. No buying myself new clothes as a way of “celebrating.” Nope. I’ll be having none of that.
I know what you’re thinking: Um, you’ve written a blog post about it. Tell me again how you’ve decided this isn’t a big deal?
Allow me to explain.
I’m not about to tell you that the fact that I can wear anything other than yoga pants after having a baby doesn’t feel good. It feels great, actually. I’m not ashamed to say that, nor am I trying to make any woman feel guilty for experiencing a similar sense of pride in her own body. I’m done with body shaming, and as a new mom to a precious baby girl, I understand that standing up to body shamers starts with people like me.
See, like most women, I’ve dealt with body image issues for my entire life. Honestly, I don’t remember a time when I haven’t obsessed over my size. While I’ve made progress at managing how I react to this obsession–as in, I am no longer someone who will snatch your camera immediately after taking pictures, so I can promptly delete any that depict an unflattering version of me–I still struggle with negative self-talk. I still pinch my arm fat while looking in the mirror, imagining how much better I’d look if it could remain permanently pinched off. I still get anxiety when I go shopping for clothes because God knows how quickly a fitting room mirror can deflate one’s self-confidence. I still think, “If I only I didn’t eat so many burritos, I could lose a few pounds and actually keep them off!”
Maybe one day, I won’t think like this at all. Maybe this tendency to self-deprecate will simply disappear as I continue to find joy in the more important aspects of life. Until then, though, I have to accept that these thoughts exist while also ensuring that they remain in my head rather than escape my mouth. For the sake of my daughter, I must be intentional about the words I use when discussing bodies–whether it’s mine, hers, or anyone else’s. What we say and do around our children matters. Our actions will inevitably shape how they view themselves and how they view others, so I’m going to do my damndest to use positive body talk all day erryday, hoping my daughter grows up knowing that a person’s body size should never determine their worth.
So yeah, the only person with whom I’ll be celebrating my postpartum weight loss is myself. I deserve that. I deserve to feel confident in my body because it endured a lot to give me the greatest gift I could ever imagine: becoming a mom.
But my daughter deserves even better.
She deserves to live a life where she can appreciate her body for what it does rather than how it looks. She deserves to look in the mirror and love what she sees rather than wishing she could change it. She deserves to experience clothes shopping with the giddy, childlike joy that it’s meant to bring, and she deserves to eat as many burritos as she damn well pleases without feeling guilty (because let’s be real, mommy won’t be sharing hers).
I know the odds are against me. We live in a culture dominated by sexual, objectifying imagery of both women and men–imagery that almost exclusively depicts one “ideal” body type rather than a more diverse and realistic set of bodies.
I also know, though, that those odds don’t absolve me of my responsibility as a mom. It’s my job–it’s our job as parents–to change the way we talk. We might not be able to or even want to change how we feel, and that’s OK. What we can and should change, though, is how we react to things that will forever impact our kids. After all, they deserve to grow up knowing they’re worth so much more than the number on the scale or the size of their jeans.