When I was fourteen years old I weighed 125 lbs. at 5’6″. My mother worried because I was ostracized for being “fat” and my pediatrician felt that while my weight was normal for an adult woman, it was unhealthy for a girl my age. I was put on a severe calorie restriction diet, thus setting the stage for future food and weight issues.
In my 20′s I had the misfortune of marrying a man who wished more than anything that I could look like a model, and his desire and my insecurity conspired to put me on a fitness regimen that made me miserable. At my low point (both in terms of weight and emotionally,) with running three miles a day and starving myself, I weighed 138 and still had drumstick thighs and a poochy stomach. When I divorced him I decided to start eating and moving in a way that I enjoyed, and I hovered around 155 for a while. I felt better at that weight than I ever had in my life, and it started to occur to me that maybe one’s body image isn’t totally objective after all.
I fell madly in love then with an incredible man, and over the next decade had four babies, gaining 35 lbs. with each, but losing less than that after each birth. That’s how I crept up to my present weight of 200 lbs.
At age 40, I love the way my body feels, as do my babies and my husband. I’m sure that my husband finds slim bodies attractive, but if his actions count for anything, he finds my body — or probably more accurately, *me* — attractive also, and he’s never said one negative word about my cellulite and large stomach, wise man that he is. I don’t like to be seen in public in bathing suit or shorts. I wear long flowing skirts to cover my thighs. Every once in a while someone will ask when I’m “expecting”.
The first picture shows me at the end of my fourth pregnancy. (That’s henna on my belly.) Strangely, I have no stretch marks like most women do, perhaps because my belly’s always been big. It didn’t have much stretching to do. I love my body so much when pregnant — it’s the only time I feel allowed to love the size of my belly. It made me choke up a little to see this picture. I think it’s beautiful.
The second picture is how I look currently, about two years postpartum. I don’t diet anymore. There’s been enough harm done to my body and soul.
p.s. Please don’t use these photos anywhere but on this website without permission. Thanks.