How many mamas out there struggle with body image?
Yet another ridiculous & unrealistic goal placed on our shoulders by society. We are bombarded with images of size 0 and as mothers we have photos of celebrities snapping back into shape within weeks of birth. I know they don’t ask to have their image used in this way, it’s the media, and good for them if they can but the majority of us don’t.
It’s another pressure I know I felt, and still do. I think it can be even more pressuring when you’re suffering postnatal depression. It can feel like another failure, another reason you’re not good enough. “Oh look they’re coping, and they look amazing, and I’m here struggling to get a shower and leave my house.” It’s just extra fuel for that PND voice in your head.
I am a size 12, sometimes 14, sometimes 10 depending on the shop and time of the month. And even though I know these are far from large sizes I still feel incredible pressure to look a certain way and know I don’t fit into that category.
My body is very different after having children – especially now I’ve had 3. I have stretch marks, thighs are bigger, tummy saggier and my boobs certainly aren’t as perky as before!
But what it is so, so very important to remember is – our bodies are AMAZING. We grew, nurtured and gave life to little human beings. We carried those babies, through every ache, pain, through exhaustion, piles and sickness. We created life. That is amazing and our bodies should be celebrated.
I have an image that I’ve shared here of myself after baby 3. When it was taken I was horrified and announced how disgusting it was. The first thing I saw, wasn’t my beautiful baby, or the smile on my face, it was my weight. My baby is only 2 days old and yet I was already criticising myself! Now I look and see a proud mama with her new beautiful baby.
With my first baby I was quite upset I didn’t fit into my jeans when I got home. 2 months later at Christmas I didn’t like my photos because I didn’t feel happy with my weight. It was all extra pressure, and extra stress that I really didn’t need. I started cutting down on my food, and I would feel starving all day surviving on a ridiculously small amount of calories. This made my body, already exhausted from lack of sleep, even more tired. We already know that an unhealthy diet doesn’t help when it comes to our mental health, and I’m sure that mine contributed to worsening my PND.
I’m learning but I’ve started to change my attitude towards myself. Not only for myself but for my children, especially my girls. I don’t want them growing up watching their mum criticising her body, I want to teach them that you don’t need to conform to societies (in my opinion unrealistic and harmful) standard.
As a teen I remember I would look at pictures of celebrities and hate myself, I never looked like them, always felt inferior and like I was chasing a goal I would never reach. I have a large mole on my forehead and as a teen I felt so self conscious about it. I would cover it with a fringe and of course sometimes kids would make fun. As I got older and my confidence grew I stopped caring what others thought. I had to have another mole removed a couple of years ago and a nurse said to me ‘it’s a shame you didn’t mention that one we could have taken that off’ I was quite surprised by her comment; I thought it was quite rude, but I found myself thinking ‘oh no why didn’t I say something!?’ But as my children have started to become more inquisitive about the world they have asked me about my mole, I just tell them that it’s just another part of mummy, and sometimes some people have them and some don’t. I won’t ever have it removed (unless I medically needed to) because what message am I sending to my children? You must have all flaws and parts of your body changed or removed that isn’t the media/societies standard definition of beauty.
I don’t want my girls (or my son) to feel like that.
So I’m embracing my body, it’s healthy and it allows me to live my life with my family.
Whenever I find myself starting to slip into bad habits of criticising myself, I remind myself that I have little impressionable eyes watching me. I want to teach them to respect and love their bodies, sure eat well, exercise and have a health life but not to obsess with looking how the world thinks we should look. We are all individuals and should be celebrated for that.
So mamas – be proud, realise how amazing you are. Look at what your incredible body has achieved. Silence that PND voice and recognise yourself for the amazing woman that you are
Xxx Sarah xxX