If I read one more blog post telling me be proud and stop hiding my mom body the next time I go to the pool, I’m going to scream! Look, I appreciate the premise of these posts. They tell us that we shouldn’t stress over the extra curves motherhood and age have bestowed on us. They tell us that we should wear our stretch marks like trophies and that, above all, we shouldn’t be judged. Well, “Amen!” to all of that and, if you are a mom who is comfortable strutting her stuff up and down the beach with a bare midriff, then good for you!! Really, I’m happy for you.
The thing is that most (at least many) of us moms are not comfortable doing that. We feel awkward and unattractive in our own skin. We see the moms with the perfect measurements and feel pangs of jealousy and self-consciousness.
To be very honest, I do not like my almost 40 year old mom body at all. I would like for the stretch marks left by three pregnancies to disappear. I hate that my once size 8 physique now struggles to squeeze into a size 14 and I absolutely despise my flabby belly that hangs over the waistband of my panties like an bloated muffin top. I am grateful to be healthy, and thankful that my body allowed me to grow three little humans and nurse them all.
However, I don’t like the body I see looking back at me from the mirror. I just don’t.
Now, I know there are some of you reading this who are probably nodding along with me. I also know there are others who are already composing nasty comments in their heads telling me that, if I hate my body, then I should get off my fat ass and do something about it. So, let me explain something–I AM doing something about it. I go to the gym 2-3 times every week even though I despise it and have to skip other things that I actually enjoy in order to make time for my workouts. I even spent three months last fall working out with a personal trainer. I wear a FitBit on my wrist to track my steps and as a reminder to get up and move. I have MyFitnessPal on my phone where I track the number of calories I put into my body. When sticking to my original calorie goal had no effect, I slashed another 200 calories from my “permitted” daily intake. None of this has helped me shed any weight at all. So, I went to my doctor and then to an endocrinologist. Both ran oodles of tests to check my thyroid function, my hormone levels, and my blood sugar. The good news is that all the test results were normal. The bad news is that nobody can figure out why I simply cannot lose weight. I’m just “big boned,” I suppose which is largely unacceptable in this day and age.
The truth is, I want to like my body. I want to have enough confidence to say “To hell with it!” as I put on a bathing suit and run along the shore like a Baywatch babe. I’ve tried repeating mantras and biblical scripture. I’ve tried avoiding mirrors and I’ve tried to just pretend it doesn’t bother me. I may have even tried throwing darts at a Victoria’s Secret catalog. None of it has worked.
My flabby mom body does bother me, and no matter how hard I try, I am embarrassed by it. Although the intentions behind those other posts are very honorable, for me they just feel like someone pouring gallons of salt on an already open, gaping wound. I already feel judged because I am not a “skinny girl,” and after reading those posts, I feel judged because I am less than proud of my physique. It’s a double whammy that has the completely opposite effect from what I believe the authors intend.
So here is what I propose: If you are one of the moms who can put on a bikini, bare your belly, and let the sun glint off you “tiger stripes,” then go for it! If you are a mom who has had 10 kids but still has her high school figure and never had a stretch mark in your life, awesome! I will applaud you all (and be quite jealous, in fact), but I WILL NOT judge you. That is, as long as you promise not to judge me either.
When you see me down the beach or across the pool sitting under an umbrella in my skirted tankini and floppy hat trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, know that I’m doing the best I can and that just being there is hard for me. I won’t tell you to cover up if you’ll stop patronizing me by telling me to pretend my bulge doesn’t bother me.
This author doesn’t want bikini tops thrown at her, so she has written anonymously.