I have a love/hate relationship with my body. Actually, if I’m being honest, I just have a hate relationship with my body.
I remember the moment when I became aware that my body wasn’t perfect. I think I was probably about eight (my daughter’s age). I was sitting on the floor and a relative told me to put my legs together so that we could look at the shape of them. She described how perfect legs have a gap between the ankles and calves, a gap between the calves and knees and (most importantly) a gap between the knees and hips. I learned about “thigh gap” at eight years old.
I don’t have a gap between my knees and my hips. Never have. I was
blessed cursed with short, muscular legs and I have always been self-conscious about them. Sometimes I wonder if I would feel the same way if I never learned about thigh-gap. It really wasn’t that relative’s fault…I would have learned about my horrid imperfection soon enough.
Flash forward to 20 years later when my body gave birth to my beautiful daughter. After years of adolescence and early adulthood where I was still criticizing and loathing my body, it was doing the most gorgeous and splendid thing possible…yet, I was still not happy with it or grateful for it. I felt awful in my postpartum skin. My baggy tummy, my (enormous!) leaky breasts. All I could think about was how much work it was going to be to get back to “normal”…and I wasn’t even happy with my normal in the first place.
Today, I still struggle with body image. I’m not sure I’d believe any woman who told me that she doesn’t. How can we not…with all the imagery and messaging that we are inundated with from such a young age – how the hell are we supposed to even accept (never mind love) our bodies.
I often look in the mirror at my still slightly rounded tummy…and judge it. Judge myself – for not doing more to make it flatter. Maybe I shouldn’t have eaten that sandwich yesterday, maybe I should do another cleanse, maybe I’m not working out enough, maybe there’s something wrong with my hormones…
Maybe I should just. fucking. get. over. it.
Yesterday I watched this clip of Jennifer Garner on the Ellen Show. Jenn’s got a tummy. Like me. Like most moms. She’s not perfect…and she seems (in that moment, anyway) to be okay with it. That is a beautiful thing.
I watched this clip and, I’d like to say I had some kind of Oprah “lightbulb” moment. I didn’t. I know that I’m still going to look in the mirror from time to time and think “ugh…” But there’s something about associating your children’s names with your body, the body that brought them into the world. It makes it a TON harder to hate on it. So, now, I’m going to do that…when I catch myself looking down at my tummy and thinking it’s not flat enough or toned enough…I’m going to picture my children, who grew inside there.
Yup. I have a baby bump. It’s name is Cait and Asher.
Thank you, Garner. Like, big, sloppy, wet kiss thank you.