Being a female, body image is something I know about all too well, and something that I have struggled with on almost a daily basis for many, many years. It started late in middle school, and continued through high school. A couple different times in my life, I have suffered from anorexia, especially my senior year in high school. I think the only time I really ate was around my parents. That lasted until I got pregnant with Reilly. Then around the time I went back to work, I was eating maybe one small meal a day, and basically living off of coffee, cigarettes, and the occasional alcoholic beverage.
Honestly, I don't know why my self image was so bad in high school. I mean, I wasn't over weight or anything. I had a bit of pudge around the face, but most of that had worn off by my senior year. One of the many, many trials people go through as a teenager. There is always someone skinnier and prettier than you are. It took me a very long time to realize that there will always be someone skinnier and prettier than I am. It's just the facts of life. There will also always be someone bigger and uglier than I am.
I'm a member of a certain website online, which includes a decent number of teenage mothers or moms to be. I read their posts about how the baby weight just makes them feel horrible, or they want to be a size ___ again. And while I do want to lose some baby weight, it isn't because I feel ugly. Sure, I feel a little fat, but its a little fat that I can handle. A lot has changed since I was in my early 20's. Which is funny considering I'm only 25, but even after Reilly was born, I had a lot of body image issues. I think it took me finding the right person to love me for me, no matter what I looked like for me to finally accept that I was who I was. And yes, I can change how much I weigh and my general physical appearance, but there are still some things that I can't change. I can take a look at it in a healthy way and change my diet with better foods, and exercise, not starving myself.
The things I can't change? Dun dun dun...the dreaded stretch marks. Can anyone name someone who really, REALLY likes having stretch marks? I can't. I don't like them. But I've become accustomed and actually proud of them now. When I first started developing the bazingas (aka, my boobs), I got stretch marks. I did everything I could to hide them because they were so embarrassing. That was part of the reason I never dressed like a girly girl until later in high school. I despised them. I didn't feel very good about myself because of them. I later got stretch marks when I was pregnant with Reilly, though they weren't horrible. I still didn't like them, but I wasn't embarrassed by them as much. I got more during my pregnancy with Ocho, in different places than during my pregnancy with Reilly. A lot changed during my pregnancy with Ocho -- a lot. I became more aware of myself as a woman, and I hold my stretch marks, even though they still aren't pretty, and I still don't like them, but I hold them as badges of triumph...badges of honor..."Mommy Marks". I have them because my body was busy making my two amazing daughters.
Its hard being a girl. We have so many thing that we have to deal with...pregnancy, periods, sagging boobs, menopause...and that's just the physical stuff. Not to mention having to live up to standards that are ridiculous. Women back in the 40's and 50's and such didn't have the kind of pressure we do now. Men want skinny women with skinny waists and boobs and butts that look awesome. At least that's what is portrayed in magazines and the media. What isn't portrayed is the millions of NOT skinny women, or the overweight women, who have boyfriends and husbands who love and adore every curve of their body. They don't portray the flat chested women who have husbands who love their small chest. They portray the "perfect" woman, which, most of us are not.
Its important to me that I continue to be accepting of my flaws, and make healthy choices for the things that I want to change, simply because I have two small girls who depend on me to make them feel amazing about themselves. I have a duty to encourage them to make smart choices. I have a duty to make sure they understand that they don't have to be a size 0 to be beautiful. I have A DUTY to make sure that they love themselves, inside AND out, and love who they are because THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL no matter what. As long as they have a good heart and a good mind, it doesn't matter what marks you have where, or where you have a little extra.
I've decided to do something a little...not embarrassing...but not like me. I feel comfortable enough with my body to post a couple pictures. My acceptance of who I am. I am putting it out for those who read my blog (the dozen of you or so) with the hopes that you can also feel comfortable in your own skin, and realize that yes, while being super skinny and odd mark free would be awesome, we are who we are.
We are all beautiful in one way or another. So please, women AND men, embrace yourself. Embrace your body and who you are. We all want something to be different...but that doesn't mean that we can't embrace who we are TODAY.
for your information: 25 years old. 2 pregnancies. 2 children. 4 weeks postpartum.