Throwback Thursday and Reflections on Body Image

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap  —  June 12, 2014 — 3 Comments

This is what I looked like two years ago this week. I was so hugely pregnant that I couldn’t go out in public without being stared at and talked to by strangers. It was like being a very uncomfortable celebrity. And I kept getting bigger for another three weeks after this photo was taken!

As you may have guessed, my body has not bounced back. I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight almost right away but things were not the same. My abdomen looked like a war zone. Two years later the stretch marks have faded but my skin is still loose and laced with a web of faint lines. Me pre-pregnancy weight was technically overweight but I still felt comfortable in a bikini. These days–no way. I think this is hard for me because I don’t have any visual references to compare my post-pregnancy body with. There are lots of images in our society of women being confident at varying weights but not of loose skin and stretch marks. I don’t understand how these celebrities get to look so normal after having kids. No amount of diet or exercise is going to fix the skin on my abdomen, and maybe that’s part of why I’m not really motivated to lose weight, even though I know intellectually that a healthy weight is more about health than aesthetics.

Every woman’s body responds differently to pregnancy. Some women gain a lot of weight, some don’t. Some get stretch marks and some don’t. Some women feel fabulous while carrying a tiny human in their abdomen and some…don’t. I seriously felt like I was walking around with 100 extra pounds strapped to my body, even though I only gained about 25. I ached with every step and I even passed out a few times. For a long time when I heard women talking about how much they loved being pregnant I felt guilty, like my love for my child is reflected by my experience of pregnancy.

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There’s no point in comparing my pregnancy or my body to those of other women. My body will never be the same as it was before Jack, and that’s okay. My life will never be the same either! That’s kind of the point. Maybe my next pregnancy will be easier and maybe it won’t, but I have a feeling I’ll be much happier if I learn to just accept whatever the future holds (stretch marks and all).

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap

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3 responses to Throwback Thursday and Reflections on Body Image

  1. This is a great post and really resonates with me. One of my favorite podcasts, One Bad Mother, recently just did an episode about moms and body image; the episodes included a lot of little gems about body image but two of my favorites were 1. After you have a baby, it’s like things got put back but maybe not on the exact same shelf and 2. Our bodies reflect the journey. While number 2 sounds overly cheesy to me on some levels I also think it is a good reminder for us moms. Thanks for sharing,

  2. Bridget from Cali June 13, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Don’t feel too bad. Most celebrity mom’s also have a contingent of professionals helping them bounce back — nannies, housekeepers, stylists, nutritionists, chefs, personal trainers, plastic surgeons and so on. They also have a million dollar motivation to lose all those extra pounds. Considering how much the camera will add, most actresses or models can’t garner big bucks unless they shed that weight. Their livelihood and appeal is on the line. Thankfully, ordinary people usually won’t get fired for taking more time to do it.

  3. Thanks for this post. I’m in the midst of my first pregnancy and have been thinking of these issues for quite a while. I have the added pressure of being an active duty service member in a male dominated environment. So that means after I return from maternity leave (6 weeks) I’m expected to wear a regular uniform (not the “nice” stretchy one I’m currently wearing everyday) and I’m expected to be within weight standards and pass my physical readiness test within 6 months of delivery. I know I’ll have to buy a bigger uniform for when I return. Most average people cannot go back to their pre-pregnancy size in 6 weeks! I’ve also started giving myself permission to know that my pre-prego uniform pants might be permanently on the shelf. (Seriously these things were designed in the 80s by a dude and have NO give or stretch to the waist!) Anticipating that all of the above would be a physical/emotional struggle for me, I’ve spent the last months working on mindful body image and giving my body permission to change. I’ve still shed a few tears over the addition of some lovely red stretch marks, but I think I’m doing okay. Thank you for keeping it real and reminding me that it’s more than okay to love my body no matter what. :)

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