“You sure have perfected the pregnant waddle!” a co-worker of mine exclaimed as he walked behind me down the hallway to the teacher’s lounge. I cringed and gave a half-hearted laugh. “You’re right, I have,” I managed to mumble before detouring to the restroom to salvage whatever pride and dignity I had left.
I was in the middle of my first pregnancy, and comments like these had the distressing tendency to pop up throughout my work day, at home, during errands, at family gatherings. I felt constantly scrutinized, from the food that I ate to the clothes that I wore to the way that I walked.
“You know, wide horizontal stripes really don’t do you any favors,” another co-worker offered in the parking lot as I got out of my car.
I wish I could say that I am the only one that has suffered from words like these, but body shaming is a common practice in our society today, especially for pregnant women and mothers.
There are constant reminders to women that their bodies need to look a certain way, weigh a certain weight, in order to be acceptable. We see and hear these reminders everywhere. Even if friends, loved ones, and acquaintances have the presence of mind to keep their thoughts about a pregnant woman or new mother’s appearance to themselves, the magazines in the check-out line constantly scream at us about post-baby body weight-loss and fad diets because, let’s face it, society is obsessed with those pounds, that cellulite…
It is very difficult to be kind to ourselves if we do not look “perfect.” My body has been through hell and back since I decided to become a mother…not once but twice. I have gained fifty pounds and lost forty pounds with my first pregnancy to gain all fifty back again with pregnancy number two. I am currently sitting at forty pounds heavier than I was before I had my kids, and, like many other women and mothers, I struggle to find a positive body image.
Here are a few golden rules I am trying to follow as I to construct a positive body image and love every pound I possess. I encourage you to try and follow these tips as well!
- Splurge. You are human, and humans like to eat real food. You are not a rabbit and cannot exist on carrots and celery sticks, so please don’t try to; it will only result in a miserable obsession with your appearance and an all-consuming hunger. So go ahead, have that scoop of ice cream. Drink that soda. Every once in a while, it is okay to eat and drink what you want. You are a mom, and you work hard. You deserve it.
- Be kind to yourself. You are not going to be able to make it to the gym every day. Accepting that fact now can only be beneficial. There’s no reason to beat yourself up over skipping the gym or deciding to give yourself a break because you are just dead tired. Exercise when you can and don’t sweat it if you can’t.
- Look in the mirror. I find myself avoiding mirrors and pretending that I am skinny. I have discovered this to be very counterproductive. Do it; look in the mirror. Memorize every curve, every inch, every pound, and don’t be ashamed of your body because it has done and is doing wonderful things. Your body made your precious children. You are beautiful just the way you are.
I am beautiful just the way I am. I am going to say this to myself every day, no matter how much I weigh, no matter what I look like. I encourage you to ignore society. Ignore the people around you who tear you down with hurtful words. Remind yourself that you are amazing and deserve to feel beautiful, even if your jeans aren’t a size two.