I’ve noticed a certain sort of recurring comment here at SOAM. It goes something like, “Wow, mama, you look GREAT! Your boobs/belly/bum looks way better than mine – I look like crap and I’m much farther postpartum/younger/had fewer kids than you did.” This comment starts off lovely and supportive but quickly turns dark and self-abusive. Why?
In the past I have posted an entry or two which I had hoped would help bring out the positivity in the women here. I have asked them to share things they loved about the way their bodies changed or simply things they loved about their bodies. Very few people responded to these attempts.
So this week, I decided to do a simple experiment. On Monday I asked for you to share the things you wished you could change about your body. As I expected, I was flooded with comments – 74 here at SOAM and another 46 over at Facebook in just about 24 hours. What I didn’t expect were the comments that answered this question on a much deeper level. Comments like these:
I could make my cesarean scar darker. It’s been 5 1/2 years now and it’s mostly faded. I don’t want to forget. It was a dark, dark time in my life and if I forget I’m afraid I won’t fight hard enough to keep it from happening again.
Adrienne Descloux Says:
I want to know why she’s only interested in my body. I she a man in disguise? If I had a fairy godmother what I’d *really* want her to change is my yard to being self maintained, more time to play crafts with the kids indoors.
I wish she would change my mind, to give me the ability to love my body/myself as it is/as I am. Seriously. My biggest most hideous flaw is how much I hate my appearance.
I have scoliosis. I want my back fixed.
I wish I didn’t have such a long list of things I want to change about my body. Physically there is a lot I would LOVE to change: brow lift, flat tummy, smaller arms, smaller nose, bigger booty, tan, no acne/scars, better toe nails, etc… But I think deep down, most of all I would ask to learn how to love myself just as I am. Also how to be loved by others. I think if I had that then the rest wouldn’t be as important.
I would ask the ferry god mother for the ability to smile. Something so simple that I struggle with every day, that my oldest (nearly 4) is starting to notice that mummy is sad alot.
These women, despite the pain I hear in their words, speak from a place I hope we can all understand one day (preferably with as little emotional trauma as possible). The idea that our bodies truly are superficial; they are a means to experience life, they should not be our lives. This isn’t to take away from the very real pain we, as women, have to deal with when it comes to loving ourselves and our bodies, but I hope that one day each of us can come to a place where we have moved beyond that pain.
The next day, Tuesday, I asked for you to share with me the things you do like about your bodies. I guessed that fewer people would contribute when forced to speak nicely about themselves and, again, my suspicions proved accurate. Only 40 comments here at SOAM and ten at Facebook. (On the other hand, ten people “liked” this, compared to only 3 from the day before.)
Why is it so much easier to beat ourselves emotionally senseless than it is to lift ourselves up? It takes work to change this way of thinking, but we must do this work. For ourselves, our daughters, our friends, their daughters – indeed for every woman living in this society. But it is not impossible and it can be done one step at a time.
This week, I ask you to take this step: refrain from bashing yourself when lifting up another mama here. When you leave comments here, please do not hurt yourself in the process. I’m not even asking you to compliment yourself here (yet), I ask that you simply don’t insult yourself. Believe it or not, it’s the beginning of the road to accepting yourself.