Careful use of language is very important. It’s important in your daily life, and it’s perhaps doubly important in this strange faceless world we have here on the internet. There is often language used here at SOAM that makes me feel uncomfortable in one way or another. The thing that I love about you ladies is that you aren’t afraid to lovingly point out how things can be worded differently. Usually. Sometimes it doesn’t go so smoothly. So there are some things I’d like to say here about how I run things at SOAM and how you can help.
1. I don’t edit the entries people post here. Sometimes I’ll change a misspelled word here or there, but for the vast majority of entries I leave them alone. I do this for a few reasons. Firstly because I don’t have time. But primarily because I don’t know what these women feel in their hearts and sometimes changing one word can change the entire feeling of an entry. I don’t want to risk anyone being misunderstood. Nearly all of the time that there is any possible confusion, a commenter will ask what was meant and the woman who posted will respond to clarify. My final reason for not editing is that I believe that every feeling is valid. What I want from SOAM and what I want for all women is that we come to a place where we love ourselves no matter what. But it’s a long road and not everyone is there yet. If a woman is struggling with her body image, it isn’t going to be helpful at all for her to pretend she’s totally OK with herself. She has to be able to talk about where she is at that moment, and sometimes those moments are complex or dark.
In that vein, I tend not to comment on entries very much here. You women do a great job of saying pretty much anything I would want to say, and I don’t want SOAM to become only my voice. So I moderate, but do not often participate by typing my own comment. When I do, I will usually wait to see what people have to say first.
2. When you write an entry, just like when you speak to other women, it is helpful to be very careful with your language. Don’t make generalized statements about anyone – whether you identify with the qualities you are talking about or not. Always speak from your own experience.
Likewise, when you are reading, try to remember that the woman who is writing is not writing about you. Sometimes, when people are hurting, or trying to understand the hard parts of life, we don’t always remember to be careful with our words. Psychology is so complex and these entries and comments here are such small facets of our lives, let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt until we know otherwise.
3. Vulvas are awesome. Did you know they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes? Pregnancy and childbirth do, in fact, change the way they look and sometimes the way they feel, but – barring an injury or unusual circumstance – it’s NORMAL. I was entirely unprepared for this kind of change in my body and it alarmed and upset me. Now I know it’s normal and I love my grown-up labia. The word “ruined” is thrown around here too often for my taste in regards to natural body processes. Breasts grow and shrink, bellies stretch, and vulvas darken. This is how the human body works, how childbirth works, your body isn’t ruined. It’s just different now. Just as your heart and mind are different now. Even without ever having children, these parts (and more) of our bodies will eventually change. And that doesn’t make your body ruined, either.
I am not minimizing the struggle we face every day in loving ourselves in a world where it is perfectly common to declare mama bellies ruined. It’s hard. It’s really fucking hard. I know. But you are beautiful. Really.
Love yourselves. Love the other women who post here. If you disagree, or need something cleared up, find a loving way to express that. By opening dialogue we can grow so much farther together than we can if we simply shut each other down right away. Keep on being the awesome ladies I love who make SOAM as wonderful as it is.