Is it anti-feminist to hate the way I look as a mother?
Hi Is This Normal,
I’m so freaking over seeing all this empowerment crap on Instagram about body positivity. All these moms showing off their stretch marks and saggy skin and floppy boobs with a smile on their faces HAVE to be lying about their happiness unless I’m just a complete anomaly.
I look in the mirror and I’m horrified. I cannot stomach the idea that this is my body now. I can’t fathom that I will ever wear a bikini again with these stretch marks and I get how in the grand scheme of things that feels small but this body is just SO NOT ME. I’m repulsed and enraged and I am NOT OKAY WITH THIS.
Is this anti-feminist of me? Am I somehow vain now? Before kids I never felt weird complaining to my girlfriends about my body. Now I feel judged and somehow ‘non-progressive’ for wishing I looked different.
How do I change?
Dear Body Negative,
Hi, hello there, are we the same person?! I’m going to tell you a little secret: it’s been some time since I nursed my kids, and I still feel a twinge of resentment toward them every time I catch a glimpse of my wet sand-filled tube sock boobs in the mirror. Like, those boobs used to get me into the best restaurants and clubs in town. At this point, the only time they could get me somewhere is if I was braless in a strong wind and they floated me along like a parachute.
First and foremost, I want you to remember: you created, carried, and delivered a baby. You had an actual human baby living inside your body for 9ish months. That baby came out in ways that seem impossible. I know it’s easy to lose sight of that in the (very unpleasant) aftermath, but good gravy mama – you are a rockstar. A FREAKING ROCKSTAR. The strongest man in the world would be brought to his knees by what you did.
BUT, I’m with you on this. I did not like what pregnancy did to my body, and it took me a good long while to get comfortable in this new skin. My body felt like it was not my own, and that is a very hard thing to reconcile with yourself. For a long time, I turned around and walked into the shower backwards so I wouldn’t be confronted with my own image in the mirror. I, too, saw these women who embraced their bodies, stretch marks and all. And honestly, I was so completely jealous of them and their ability to ignore or accept their flaws. I wanted so badly to be one of those women! But we’re not all wired the same way. And there is not a damn thing wrong with that, or with how you feel.
You are not anti-feminist, and you are not vain. Not even a little bit. There’s nothing wrong with being NOT OKAY with what pregnancy and childbirth does to your body! I know it’s hard to remember, but this is temporary. It took nearly 10 months for your body to change, and it’s going to take time to un-change (that is not a word, but I’m going to use it anyway). Some things, I’m sorry to say, won’t ever look exactly the way they did pre-baby. But doesn’t mean you’re not going to eventually get to a place where they look perfectly good to you. It’s not so much about changing your body as it is about changing your mindset. Stretch marks don’t need to keep you out of a bikini – get you a high-waisted bikini bottom and live it up! In time, you will find things about your new body that you absolutely frigging love. Carrying my baby around all the time gave me Michelle Obama arms, and they quickly became my most favorite body part. Try to focus less on what’s different, and more on what’s new and awesome.
I’m all for body positivity and female empowerment. But to me, that means having the space and choice to accept yourself, or change what makes you unhappy. If you are not happy in your body, that is valid and that is okay. Just as it’s okay for other women to be happy as a pig in muck with their bodies. We are all so different, and that’s what makes each of us unique. Unfollow those IG accounts, and my god, stop being friends with anyone who judges you for expressing your feelings. We are hard enough on ourselves, we certainly don’t need that kind of judgement from anyone else.
Yours in Stretched Skin and Saggy Boobs,
Is This Normal