Yesterday I read this blog post about a woman who put up pictures of herself in her bikini. She describes it as “It was meant as a positive body image post … one that would hopefully inspire some of my readers to think blimey, if Kate has the courage to wear a bikini when she’s a size 18 woman who’s had 2 children, and she’s not ashamed, then maybe I will too.”
Her article was picked up by a larger forum and she got some great support and negativity. She wrote a response post to the reaction she got and as I read on it was this paragraph that spurred me to run upstairs throw on my bikini and write the post I’ve wanted to write for a while…
“We should all be talking about how we feel about our bodies, and encourage each other, not disparage and judge so, if I may … could I possibly ask the writers amongst you to think about putting down your own thoughts about this subject in your own blog post (or even just on paper if you don’t blog).”
So here it goes, my thoughts on my post baby body.
When Ewan was first born I was all the usual things of excited,scared, in awe, in love and mixed in with all that was grief. I looked at my body and felt grief. Where was my other body, the one I had before. Someone had drawn lines all over this one I want my old body back. When I was pregnant I didn’t care about the stretch marks. I felt full, abundant and as the marks grew I knew my baby was growing. Once he was born and for months afterwards the marks were all I could see.
I felt shamed, not shamed about my body but shamed that I was even thinking about my body. I had this beautiful baby boy. Any positive image posts that I read online about a post-baby body were centered around gratitude. You have your baby be grateful. Aren’t you so lucky? Bodies are amazing, be grateful. As well as the gratitude tale I came across the tiger stripes image, again and again. I hated this image.
The same image is also used in ads for surgery but without the text written across her stomach. I left the tigers where they were and started looking for creams, lotions, potions that would get rid of my stretch marks. I read hundreds of product reviews online, watched endless you tube reviews.
I have stretch marks nearly everywhere thighs, legs,bum. belly, hips,boobs. I felt that nobody else had it as me, that I was the only one and comparison to other stretch mark images just made me more convinced. But I was also determined it wasn’t too late. The creams I had used during pregnancy were cast aside and I started squandering a fortune on more expensive creams with definitive statements like “Goodbye Stretch Marks”.
When these didn’t work I started to look into laser surgery. I would lose sleep over how I would rid myself of these marks.
But as time went on I needed my sleep more. Exhaustion kicked in and I just slept. When I was awake I was busy. Ewan was growing, I had set up this blog and the Etsy shop. I now spent my time thinking about whether or not to go back to work and wondering if it was it the right call for me and my newly fledged family. Life took over.
A year later the stretch marks are still there. I never got that laser surgery. I wish I had some feminist cry, I am woman, I love my stretch marks. Or maybe something catchier than that!
The truth is I don’t love them. I wouldn’t miss them if they weren’t there. But I also don’t hate them. I’m coming not to care. My body has squiggly lines on it, some are still purple, some are fading, both are okay with me.
I don’t regret obsessing about them. I do wish I was nicer to myself in those first few months after Ewan was born. I didn’t have to be ashamed that I was thinking about my body. I think I needed to look at them over and over. I needed to care for them by rubbing cream into them. I was, and still am, eternally grateful that I have a healthy boy but that doesn’t mean the things that used to matter to me suddenly disappear. I am no less grateful because I worry about my body.
The stretch marks became the part of me that was most cared for. I gave them attention and ignored the rest of me. They’ve had their time now. They can stay or they can fade but I’m glad to say I don’t mind.
If you’ve read all this way thank you.
I would have skipped to the pictures!
Let’s start with a very nervous looking me…