I want to start off by saying I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for the times I’ve spoken ill of you and degraded you. For the names I’ve called you and the bad jokes I’ve made at your expense.
I have said some not-so-nice things about you, and had someone else been speaking like that about me, I’d be broken-hearted.
You help me to experience life. I go places and I do things because of you. I love, I laugh, I fed, I clothe, I run after my children, I go after my purpose and I get to do life because of you.
So today, I looked at you lovingly in the mirror and I said thank you. I hugged on my stretch marks and thanked my body for the evidence that showed I had carried three beautiful miracles.
I thanked my body for being able to heal and give me strength to go about life continually. With this newfound thankfulness, I also vowed to do better by you. To speak better of you and look after you more.
For you see, there can only be one you. So from now on, I will be more intentional as I learn to grow more in love and in tune with this temple that is you.
You are truly one of a kind, beautiful and miraculous, and I want you to know I love you dearly.
Body image – ties in so closely with self love and worth for me.
I am 36 year old mother to two teenage boys, who has endured physical, sexual and emotional abuse, battled anorexia and struggles with severe depression, anxiety and ptsd. It was always – too thin, too fat, too flat chested, not curvy, too curvy, hair too short, hair too long, I couldn’t keep up.
For so many years body image was connected so closely with my self worth that I became really unwell physically and mentally. I didn’t deserve to be loved and I didn’t love myself therefore my body didn’t deserve to be taken care of. It has only been in the last 12 months that I have allowed myself some love and care that I have come to realize what ‘body image’ means to me. ⠀⠀⠀
It is still closely connected with self love but it is more about the love than critiscim, its about the journeys my body has been through and learning to accept them and how they have shaped me, its about the stretch marks that are written like love letters to my children over my butt and thighs and loving them for being there, its about loving me the way I am, whatever sharp weight or size I am at the time. Its about allowing myself some grace when I judge myself to harshly, its acknowledging the scars and appreciating the strength that comes from them..
Its about defining my own body image and not striving to achieve someone else’s. Being healthy and happy and telling everyone else to keep their opinions to themselves. My best body image is when I am at MY BEST mentally and emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Body Image once you’ve transitioned into motherhood, is a raw, and confronting world of its own. It’s waking up, to your newborn feeding on engorged breasts, with your toddler laying across your soft, rippling stomach. It’s searching for the beauty in every line, every wrinkle, and every spot on your body that is a badge of honour for creating and carrying life.
Body image in motherhood is celebrating the glory of your body becoming ‘yours’ again once you give birth, and then the mourning, and the grief to shortly follows in the realisation that your body may never be just yours again. Body Image in motherhood is as complex and chaotic as the little humans we are raising.
So we must be kind to ourselves, tell our reflections they are beautiful, whisper to our hearts that we deserve unconditional love. We have to fight hard to learn to love our bodies just the way they are, in all their perfectly imperfect glory.
For most of my life, I felt I didn’t “fit” anywhere. As a young teen, I began a cycle of extreme dieting. At the time, being anorexic was ‘cool’, so much so, in fact, that the goal was to eat so little that you fainted.
My restrictive eating then spun into drinking, then drugs (hard and soft), and minor brushes with the law—all in the hopes of being popular and liked.
To cut a very long story short, my extreme behaviours, as well as my hyper-focus on changing my appearance have not only caused decades of unhappiness, but have also now lead to permanent health problems including severe digestive disorders. I’ve battled severe depression to the point of attempting suicide.
It was only through years of working on myself, along with professional help that I was able to pull both my mental and physical health back on track.
It is therefore my personal knowledge of how dark, dangerous and insidious this problem can be that has driven me to develop and teach effective, evidence-based solutions to change people’s lives.
I often end up in conversations with friends, family or even strangers. They reflect on their birth stories, how they have aged, an experience they may have had or simply who they used to be. You can feel their sorrow as they justify the way they look. I listen and reflect on what they are saying. I look at these women, their radiant smiles or curvy hips, their bad ass attitude and can’t find a link between their story and what I see. At first I feel their sorrow, I empathise with the pain. But then I listen and hear their courage, their underestimated super power and I’m amazed and wish they could see what I see.
I think we can all be guilty of this. Not giving ourself enough self love. But I can tell you first hand, when you take a small step to remove those barriers that’s when miracles happen. In the past 5 years I’ve gone from being on a 3 year journey to conceive a baby which involved 3 rounds of IVF, had a csection, against ALL odds fell pregnant naturally, gave birth via VBAC and breastfeeding both babies. This journey has had its highs and lows. Those close to me would say at time my lights went out. When you go for tests and appointments everything is given a number or score. You are constantly on edge waiting for your body to fail. You attach these scores to your body and begin to see them as a reflection of who you. To overcome this when doing IVF I started working with a counselor.
I learnt the importance of not viewing my body as a rusty old machine & not housing negative labels to my body, especially parts that gave life to my children. It takes practise, but your body is listening to every word your mind says. Be kind to yourself. That story we all tell to justify ourselves, close your eyes and think about it. Think about how your body gave life, showed strength, your mind over came challenges, the confidence you showed. See the positives. Smile at its beauty just as your friends, family, mother, daughter and strangers do. Stop justifying yourself. Because your body knows exactly what to do and can achieve anything, you can too. Just believe in it.
When I posted my first stretch marked, jiggly belly photo a few years ago, I had no idea how much people actually wanted to see it, and how much I also craved to see bodies like mine, just to feel less alone. Seeing perfectly posed images of women bouncing back months or even weeks after birth is hard. You feel like you did something wrong or you just aren’t lucky or good enough, not disciplined enough, not rich enough. But I’ve learnt that we are actually the norm, we are the majority, but we have just been shamed into hiding… that’s starting to change.
Pregnancy changes you in the most wonderful and terrifying ways, your body is no longer yours, you’ve sacrificed it to create your family. It gets stretched and broken, the mind changes dramatically too, but your love for those babies overrides any pain of losing yourself in the process. …….
I love that women are rebelling against societies expectations and revelling in each other’s joy and empowerment. We are no longer shackled by body image and that relief is euphoric. We are sharing our new found freedom with the world because even if just one other woman out there can be freed from the shame and mental torture of not fitting the mould, it is all worth it.
For me, it’s about taking a stand against the pressure to bounce back and shining a light on all post-partum bodies. It’s about supporting women when they are at their most vulnerable and applauding others when they share their vulnerabilities as well.
Are to ready to join the next movement?
The March Movement