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Accepting Post-Baby Bodies & Girls Body Image

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Can We Ever Accept Our Post-Baby Bodies?

It’s a funny thing. Yesterday I was “pottying a tinkle” (as my toddler calls it) when I felt a bit of skin on my belly sort of tuck under…that’s the only way to describe it. I thought, this couldn’t possibly be happening…not to me. It was fine when I was standing up. There was no sag or drag…a little pooch perhaps, but no sagging.

Cautiously, I put my hand to my abdomen. Yes, yes, there it was. A belly roll. Disgusted, I hopped off the loo and vowed that I would start a diet tomorrow. I would not let this get the best of me. I would be out running a half-marathon next summer…and the list when on and on.

Then I went to the kitchen, leaned against the counter, and savored a chocolate Super Bowl cupcake while I contemplated how I would do this. An app that records my every calorie? A blog about what I was doing? How would I keep myself honest? I made my decision and moved on, though I didn’t mention it out loud, because we all know how I feel about our own body images ruining our little girls.

When I got up this morning, this blog post at Scary Mommy was the first thing I read over my morning coffee. I’m the first to admit that I agree completely with what she’s saying…even if I preach otherwise. Though I do believe we need to keep our dismal body opinions to ourselves so as not to complicate matters with our little ones, I do hate the fact that, even after 10 years of being together, I now hate getting dressed in front of the hubs. In fact, I often get dressed in the bathroom just so he doesn’t walk in to the bedroom when I have only one leg in my jeans. Then I found Shape of a Mother and realized that there is this whole underground society of women who are horribly dissatisfied with how their post-baby body looks.

And, while this article at Baby Center talks about the “first few weeks” after you’ve had the baby, it says nothing about the fact that, for many women, post-baby jiggle is still going on when you kiss your kid goodbye on the first day of Kindergarten. Do real moms even write these stories? And if they do, why are they giving us false hope?

So, from vowing to lose the roll to a cupcake in the kitchen to finding another group of women who are sad about the flab, I’m still not satisfied and still not wanting to accept the little extra that is mine. And while I should stop eating the cupcakes, and I know I should accept my little belly, there’s one I’m just not able to do yet…the cupcakes are the easy part.

Let’s discuss. Have you accepted your post-baby body? What did it take to finally get you there?

How Our Body Image Is Ruining Our Girls

I like to think that I’ve got a pretty healthy body image. I run several times a week, eat healthy for the most part, and splurge without guilt (meaning, if I want a peanut butter smoothie, I’m eating a peanut butter smoothie).

So, when New Year’s rolled around and my twelve-teen read off her resolutions, I was devastated that the #3 slot was taken by the hope that she’d lose 15 pounds. At 5′ 6″ tall and 140 pounds, she’s far from overweight. In fact, she’s far from needing to lose weight. A competitive swimmer, a snowboarder, and a sprinter on the school track team, she’s constantly in motion and, as a mom, I’m proud to say she beats boys in pull-up competitions on a regular basis.

But she still feels she needs to shed 15 pounds.

That night, as I climbed into bed, I asked the hubs what he thought about it. I told him that I thought I was setting a good example with my own lifestyle, so why did she still think she needed to lose? Was it those pesky pencil-thin teenage girls at school that hadn’t hit puberty yet? Maybe I shouldn’t let her watch television anymore. In my head, she had already hit eating disorder and was on her way to rehab (which is definitely not meant to be a joke because eating disorders are a very serious topic and problem).

But when I stopped fretting for one second, the hubs looked at me and said, “Well, what did you expect? You’re constantly on a mission to lose weight.”

What?!? No I’m not! I’m happy with where I am, except for that last 10 pesky pounds from the baby that’s now turning two…and maybe those love handles that won’t go away, no matter how careful I am…and perhaps the hint of crow’s feet I’m now developing and …

Oh. Oh no. He was right. While I didn’t think that I had been openly criticizing myself, apparently I had. Or maybe I hadn’t, but my behavior made her feel like I was unhappy with the body nature has given me.

Oh dear. This calls for a recon mission for sure. But now what? How do I love me enough to get my daughter to love her? And that, my friends, is the question.

Stop and Think

Sounds easy, right? But think about the last time you ate something you “weren’t supposed to have.” Did you say it out loud? I know I did. Even better, I looked up the calories on Lose.it! to log it in an app! I bet it happens more than you even realize.

Exercise Is Not A Chore

This is something else I’m totally guilty of. When I go for a run, I’m the first one to say, “Uh, I’ve got to go take the dog for a run.” What I should be saying is, “I’m looking forward to my run today because I feel so good and strong and clear-headed when I’m done.” How do you portray exercise?

Rethink Your Magazine Subscriptions

Surprising, right? But think about how you feel every time you get a SHAPE magazine with a bikini-clad, six-pack-showing-off super model on the cover. I don’t know about you but I think, “hrm. I wonder how I get those abs?” If I’m not thinking about all the air brushing that went into that cover, my kid sure as heck isn’t it.

While these are just a few things you can do, they’re a good start. Try it for a week, just to see how many times you catch yourself. I bet you’ll be surprised.

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1 thought on “Accepting Post-Baby Bodies & Girls Body Image”

  1. I’ve already seen my SIL passing these “lessons” on to her daughter, who is only six years old. My SIL has always valued fitness, and my niece is like her mom in terms of athleticism. The past year she’s been in gymnastics, and the kid has ABS! It’s amazing… and it’s why I get very bothered when my niece says anything about being fat, or someone or something else being fat.

    My SIL didn’t start it, though… my MIL does the same thing. It’s very frustrating being around the two of them and hearing them casually put themselves down about how they look. Ever since I’ve been aware of the female bonding “ritual” of self-degradation (“Omigawd, I’m so fat!” “No, sweetie, you’re way hot!”) I’ve made an effort to NOT take part in that sort of interaction. Oh believe me, there are plenty of things about my body I don’t like… but I don’t want to commiserate with others on it, nor do I want them relating to me that way. It’s so horribly negative, and I just don’t like hearing it.

    So if I’m ever lucky enough to have a daughter, I hope I can remember these self-taught lessons, and not pass on the practice of self-loathing.

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