I like to read blog posts and articles about body image. I like those websites and photography projects that show real women after they have had babies. I like to talk about how beautiful they are and I like to think that I feel this empowered about myself.
The truth is, I struggle a lot with my body. This isn't news, or surprising, I know, but it's still awful. Ever since high school, I always thought I was fat (ha! I can't imagine being high school thin now) but somewhere half way through college I accepted my body and was pretty comfortable in it. After I got married, I liked to experiment with different ways to eat- not because I was always looking to lose weight but because I thought diets were interesting experiments.
Then I had a baby and it changed the whole game.
Suddenly, I had stretch marks and extra flab and AFTER that I had some depression which made me put on MORE weight. Once I came to grips with my new body I had another baby and the whole thing started again only this time I had a gnarly c-section scar on top of it all.
And I tried, you know? I tried so hard to be like "you're a warrior! Most women don't just bounce back like elastic! Be kind to yourself!" But every time I looked in the mirror my inner self sighed.
There came a point where I just avoided looking in the mirror. But one day, my 5 month old had the stomach flu. She was in sad shape and after she had vomited all over the both of us, I stripped us down to get in the shower together. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I was holding my little, naked, sick baby and I was being her MOM. For some reason, and just for that moment, I felt so empowered. I felt strong and worthy. My stretch marks weren't something to sigh over, but proof of something eternal. Everywhere I sagged was evidence of providing LIFE to this little perfect baby.
I still have a long way to go with my self image. I still avoid the mirror and when I catch a glimpse I don't always have a liberating moment of self acceptance. But I felt it once, and to me, that's worth documenting.