Having kids means I basically have a mirror put in front of my face just about every minute I am in their presence. This truly forces me to accept (and even love) my body. In an effort to follow my New Year’s Resolution and be more like Amy Schumer, I am blogging about accepting my body exactly the way it is (it’s like the scene in Bridget Jones’s Diary, “I like you just the way you are.”).
I am no stranger to body issues. Weight management has been a strong theme in my life. But this is different; this is not about a number on the scale, or the number on the tag in the back of my dress. This is about my physical body, consisting of my flesh, bones, my many moles and birthmarks (mostly on my neck and décolletage), a couple of scars and a few gray hairs (which I pull out), my oily T-zone (you could deep fry things on my face. So, if you could recommend a good oil controlling primer… please email me!), slightly-too-wide nose, squishy dough-tummy (care of my twin pregnancy), stretch marks (again, twin pregnancy, but also just life), broad shoulders, back fat, cellulite, and the weird red dots I get with age (which I remember my grandmother having many of too). But this is exactly my point, what I saw in my grandmother is what I see in myself (minus 60 years or so), and now I see it in my daughters, so I have found a new level of love and acceptance for my body because my children are cut from the same cloth.
Some nonsensical personal history
When I was a teenager, I really loved the super-model-clad George Michael video “Freedom!” I was obsessed, and I really wanted to look just like the super models in the video. It’s ridiculous, but very true. The video was so cool, intriguing, sexy, and visually provocative. Explosions and gorgeous models?… there’s something for everyone! There are so many stunning models in the video; surely I could physically morph myself to look more like them? Maybe just a little bit?
Reality check: uhhh, no.
The turning point
When did our minds decide our physical form determines how we feel about ourselves overall? My body really is just the physical shell I use to get from place to place and carry around my brain. I love almost everything about my body even my greasy face (it’s a Michelle-staple and will help me age gracefully, it’s like my face is always trying to moisturize itself).
Fast forward a couple of decades and I see three miniature versions of myself walking around and I ADORE THEM. How could I not love my body?! Moreover, my girls love my body. They constantly want to be held, hugged, kissed, sit in my lap, or hold hands… the physicality of being the mama to young children is nonstop. If I am holding them, they play with the moles on my décolletage or “honk” my nose to indicate I should “beep” their noses back. After they show me their bellybuttons, they want to pull my shirt up to point at my bellybutton too. Hey, this is equal opportunity, so I think it’s fair.
I have broad-ish shoulders (proportionally speaking). Instead of comparing myself to a football player, I am reminded of how my shoulders serve as a place for my girls to rest their heads every day. Before the twins are up and out of their cribs, and the hustle and bustle of the day begins, my oldest and I share a “morning cuddle” where I hold and rock her while she rests her head on my shoulder. If I needed to add another foot to each side of me to protect this precious time, I would. My shoulders provide safety and comfort to my children. I’ll keep them just the way they are.
My stomach is my Achilles heel
Until recently, I fixated on the overall roundness of my stomach. I used to check out my stomach and gauge its “flatness” in every mirror/reflection I came upon, but I realized I don’t want my girls to see me do this and think, “What the heck is going on here? Should I be doing this too?” Furthermore, how would the “flatness” of my stomach make my day any better or worse? It has no relevance!
My thoughts on this now:
- Who cares about the flat state of my belly?!
- How vain.
- How pointless!
So, I have made a point to get up in the morning and NOT look at my midsection. I get dressed and see I look good in my clothes (thanks to my stylist), and I reinforce the fact my belly has no bearing on how I look. Do I feel good? YES. Then, belly be damned! I have stopped intentionally checking out my tummy in the mirror, instead I’m trying to take in the “whole package” and see how well I am put together. Will my eyes linger on my midsection as I scan? Probably a little, and the craziest thing is my waist is the smallest part of my body. I know this makes no sense, but I’m working on it.
Clearly, I have put WAY too much thought and energy into this and now I have let the flat tummy illusion go because it’s been replaced with three daughters who love squeezing my belly.
Finding the body confidence and love
To some women this would sound like a nightmare, but my little girls gather around to get a feel and looking down to see six little hands gently touch and pinching my soft and squishy tummy with joy and glee on their faces brings me great happiness.
Moreover, my doughy tummy is the source of these girls. This belly has done a hell of a job creating life. I should be praising it and thanking my body for accomplishing three miracles! Also, my oldest has declared she likes my tummy better than daddy’s because it’s softer.
My stretch marks never bothered me because I like having physical proof of carrying twins to full-term (which is a HUGE accomplishment in the world of multiples). My oldest daughter asks what the marks are and I tell her it’s from having her sisters in my tummy (I escaped stretch marks while carrying her, but twins are no joke). My stomach is not the stuff super models are made of, I don’t think it ever will be and I am actually OK with this.
The other “imperfections,” which I could spend way too much time staring at in the mirror, are things my daughters love and inherited. Every part of me has been put into my girls (okay, technically they share 50% of my DNA, but you get the idea), and I love everything about them. If they see me admonish any part of my physical form, it’s a bad reflection on them.
There are still days I am extra critical of myself and I need a reality check, but I’m getting better. I hope my daughters see just how much I love their bodies, and in turn they love their bodies more… just as seeing them love my body has helped me find new love for myself too.
If you’re looking for more body love and inspiration, here is a great post from kveller.com contributor, Sarah Tuttle-Singer: Why I Let My Kids See Me Naked