In this week’s episode of Red Table Talks with Jada Pinkett Smith, they discussed the topic of body confessions. They were asked what they hated most about their bodies, what they love most about their bodies, and what they have embraced. To that end, I will answer some of those questions myself in an attempt to have a candid conversations with the readers of this blog.
Growing up, I was proud of my body. I was an athlete, so I had beautiful thighs, muscular arms, and a semi-flat (I never had a six pack) stomach. In high school, I was about 5’2″ and 110 pounds. I was a fine young thing. Then I went off to college and realized that although I was small, I wasn’t as curvy as other girls. I didn’t have a large behind; I didn’t have curves; I was just firm. I wanted the big butt. I wanted the hips and all of what seemed feminine to me, but I also knew I needed to maintain my track figure.
Maintaining my track figure became increasingly difficult. While I wasn’t the most curvy, for team, I was one of the heaviest at 125 pounds. I remember often my coach telling me that I was too fat and I needed to lose weight. He would monitor my caloric intake and make comments about the food I was eating, sometimes in front of my teammates. I recall working really hard during the summer before my Junior year to get into the shape he wanted me to be in. I needed to look the part and that would stop me from pulling my hamstring, he said.
unbeknownst to me, at the time I was putting in all of this work, I would be pregnant within a few weeks. I had gotten down to my smallest collegiate weight at 115 pounds and I looked great, and then, I was pregnant.
Since then, I have had the most difficult time accepting my body in its current state. I am constantly looking at how I used to look and challenging myself to get back there. I do not feel comfortable at my current weight and I don’t like what I see in the mirror. I question why I don’t have the snap back that other women have. Or why I have to “look good for a mother of three.”
Not liking the body I am in also gives me shame at times. How can I be so hard on myself when the way I look is due mostly in part to having children? My once perky breasts are now saggy. I dare not walk out of the house without a bra. I was once a proud member of the itty bitty committee and could wear whatever kind of top I wanted – with or without a bra. Now, don’t even think about it. I remind myself often that while my breasts don’t look like what they did before I bore children, they are a testament to my commitment to breastfeeding all three of my babies. I gave them the best milk available to them for as long as I could, which was 6 months, 12 months, and 13 months respectively. I gave them the best milk and my breast paid the sacrifice. I can handle that!
Don’t get me started on the tiger stripes that have ravaged my stomach and sides. It is like a sea of waves underneath my shirt. Those, I have come to deal with. Those are the stripes that I earned from giving life to three beautiful children. The flatter my stomach area gets, the less my stretch marks are visible, so I press onward. But along with the stripes came diastasis recti. This is the part of childbirth that they don’t prepare you for. This is the part of I sometimes still have my kangaroo pouch that makes me look about 4 months pregnant, even at my fittest. The gap between my muscles was large enough to fit 4 fingertips in it. I have worked hard to decrease it but it is still there.
Overall, while I am happy with the majority of my body, my number one gripe is my stomach. I long for the day when my stomach finally looks close to what it used to look like. When I don’t have to lift it up to button my pants. When I don’t feel ashamed to leave the lights on with my husband.
What about you? Let’s talk.
Until next time, journey on!