I’m finally starting to love my body again. I guess I shouldn’t say I’m starting to love my body “again” because this really is the first time. My daughter (now three years old) was born when I was 19. Prior to getting pregnant, I was at the lowest weight I’d ever been, had relatively perky breasts and was pretty excited about buying clothes in a size 3 for the first time in my life. Yet I still wasn’t very confident, I didn’t LOVE myself. I noticed that other people loved my body, but enjoying the attention was not the same as truly loving my body.
I gained around 70 pounds while pregnant and it was such a huge shock to my already lacking self-esteem. All the fat and flab hanging off my body felt foreign. I felt trapped in myself. I was uncomfortable and at times, nearly claustrophobic. I was depressed about it, but I was so wrapped up in being the best mom I could be. I simply set aside looks and loving myself. I thought I’d never been thin again, and to put all possible energy into raising my child. That worked well until she got older and needed me less and less each day. She was growing more independent and all of a sudden I had (a little) time for a social life again, friends and going out, being young while I could. This really jolted me back into some old habits and feelings that I would have liked to leave in the past. I realized that I never really dealt with those issues, I just set them aside. So I basically had to start all over, but this time I had sagging breasts, deep red stretchmarks as far as the eye could see and rolls upon rolls of fat. In a way, I was worse off than before.
But, this entry wasn’t meant to be depressing. I merely wanted to add a little background into the story before saying I’m doing MUCH better. I’m starting to love myself more than ever before, inside and out. I’m eating and feeling healthy, not because I want to be skinny and attractive but because I want to take care of myself. I would like to get to a place one day where the number on the scale doesn’t matter, where I can feel beautiful no matter how I look or how much I weigh. I’m not completely there yet but there has been some definite progress made. I don’t loathe my stretchmarks anymore. (I can vividly remember a crying fit the day I discovered my very first stretchmark while pregnant.) In fact, I really like them. Looking at my belly pictures is not painful, but… relaxing. Hypnotic. Refreshing. The way they swirl around, almost pattern-like. They’re interesting, pretty and unique. I honestly do not care if they never go away (although my mother tells me they will fade even more than they already have).
I guess I go back and forth on my breasts. They used to be full, and were quite large considering my overall size so it used to be something everyone talked about. I was all boobs. Not it isn’t something people really notice anymore, they are much more modest in size. I am liking the new size. They aren’t uncomfortable, and they don’t get in the way anymore. I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish with their help (nursed for 2 1/2 years), but now that they are not technically in-use anymore, I wish they were nicer to look at. My husband seems to enjoy them. I don’t know exactly how I feel. What’s in between satisfied and disatisfied? Neutral, I suppose. On a positive note, there are things I do love about them. I love the way the skin on my breasts feel, they are very soft and light. They fit in a two piece swimsuit without killing my neck and shoulders (another first time for me). I love the shape and color of my nipples and areola. So there are a lot of positives. I guess they only thing I do not like is how saggy they are now.
Coming to a conclusion, I want to say that overall I am content with the way my body looks. It took me 22 years to get here, but I’m finally enjoying myself. One day, on an impulse, I said, “SCREW IT” and went out and bought a bikini for the first time since I was about 12 years old. I’m tired of hiding. This is what a normal woman’s body looks like, unaltered. No airbrushing, surgeries- heck, I don’t even really wear make up!- went into making this and I’m pretty proud of what I’ve got. (At the moment I am 118 pounds, 5′ tall and wear a size 6.) I only wish that more of my friends, whom are all gorgeous, strong women with their own beauty strengths, could feel this way about their own bodies. All I see is pain and I’m sympathetic because I was there. I wish I knew what to tell them, to take it all away. I don’t think there is much I can do, because for me, it was a journey I had to take all on my own. And I’m still a work in progress!
~Your Age: 22
~Number of pregnancies and births: 2 pregnancies, 1 birth
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 3 years