I was alerted to a certain anti-stretch mark article tonight by reader Sara. The author of this article had the gall to break copyright laws and steal my photograph of myself and my baby son which has been featured on this website for nearly three years. I have politely asked her to remove it.
I will not be linking to this article because I do not want them to benefit from the traffic a link would provide – also because I would prefer this end here rather than become some drawn-out internet soap opera. But this has given me an opportunity to write about something which has been on my mind for awhile. Namely the power we let society have over our esteem.
I am a fat woman. For the longest time, I was ashamed of that and felt that I was unworthy of good things in life – of looking pretty, of feeling pretty, of being listened to, of being admired. Screw that! I am human, I am smart, I am pretty, and I am more than worthy of all these things and more. I am striving to be healthy in diet and exercise and I do hope certain health issues get resolved, which will lead to being a lower weight for this size is rather physically uncomfortable for me. But if not, I won’t let anyone tell me how to feel about myself any more. I used to hide my fat arms in sleeves, short or long. But I won’t anymore. I happen to like the kiss of the sun on my shoulders, and I refuse to be hidden just because my arms don’t fit one particular image of what society says they should look like. I’ve liberated my arms and my esteem.
Society has no right to decide for me that my stretch marks, my extra skin, my body shape make me unworthy. I refuse to feel badly about my body because I grew, nourished and birthed (and nourished some more) two amazing people. I refuse – I simply refuse – to fall into that negative thinking. I have children who I have to be strong for, children who look to me as a role model for what women are – and I want them to know that women are strong, rational, intelligent creatures who can be beautiful and KNOW IT at any size and at any shape.
I really don’t care if people look at my belly and feel disgust. I steel myself against them. I run my fingers along the lines and appreciate what they mean: love. The love of growing my babies. And I simply refuse to let myself even think negative things – I won’t be held down that way!
As an activist, I feel like each person must take a stand. Ten years ago, it was unheard of to re-use grocery bags, but it is becoming quite the norm these days – because each individual person took that stand and made it so. I also feel like positive body image really and truly IS within our reach, only we each have to make the decision not to allow them to imprison us in our own cells of self-hatred. We have to make the decision to just REFUSE to let them tell us how to think of ourselves. How dare they? How dare they try to keep us down?
I find it rather ironic that the photograph that was stolen in an attempt to create a feeling of shame about a mother’s body happens to be a pose which I feel is confidant and self-assured, not afraid to just be, regardless of how many stretch marks and extra skin there may be.
Don’t let them get into your head. Take control and refuse them access to your insecurities. Fake it if you have to – the real stuff will follow naturally – but take a stand with me and all the other moms on here and refuse to be ashamed!