I must admit to being reluctant to write my story, for it is actually quite a positive one. How can I write something that other mums will connect with, if my mum body issues are very few?
So perhaps I can share a more positive story and hope that it helps others to connect to a more healthy view of these wonderful vessels we are given to inhabit. For all those mums who have daughters and wish to raise them knowing how to love, cherish and celebrate their bodies.
Inhabiting the body I have meant that I haven’t had weight issues of the kind you most hear about - in fact my story is one of the opposite: I struggle to maintain optimum healthy weight and on the standardised scales, I would be considered underweight. As I have heard throughout my life ‘that’s nothing to complain about’, ‘lucky you’ and ‘if only I was skinny like you’. But things didn’t run easy and being teased for your weight is no fun whether for being fat or for being skinny.
‘Skinny’ is a word I never use as for me it has attached meaning of ill-health. I still vividly remember overhearing a group of boys talking about the merits of different girls in my year (about 12 years old): ‘I wouldn’t fancy Kirsten, it would be like going out with a skeleton’. Cue the peals of laughter and a dawning understanding.
Clearly my path to a relationship was not going to be through my shapely curves and stunning profile (at the time I also had glasses, no boobs and a tendency towards spots). What I was beginning to understand was I couldn’t compete with Mother Nature. Within my family of 3 sisters I inherited my father’s body shape: tall and slim. My middle sister got similar but with boobs and my eldest sister got mum’s body shape: shorter and curvier.
Maybe it was my farming background where things of a natural nature were all very matter of fact which meant my acceptance of what I was given to live in was so easy? It may have been my mother’s role in modelling a healthy love of food that meant there was never any talk of ‘dieting’ or ‘denying’ or ‘restricting’. There was never a hint that food could be used for anything other than nourishment and enjoyment. We were never exposed to talk of ‘using’ food.
Accepting my body shape came reasonably easily which meant I was left to focus on other things about me I could offer the world: I discovered a natural affinity for listening- I became the ‘go-to’ girl for any problem. I also learnt I was a little bit funny and could make people laugh. That was a revelation and as I later found, often more of an attraction than curves.
Pregnancy was no different. I loved my pregnant body. Loved what it meant: that the body I was given to live in was housing someone else- how amazing! I was glad I had kept it in reasonable condition. There is a quote about stretch marks we all know: ‘Your body is not ruined. You’re a goddamn tiger who earned her stripes’. Well, I have stripes but I earned them a different way. I developed stretch marks on my thighs at age 14 years from an intense growth spurt. My stretch marks tell the very happy story of growing from the shortest in my class to the tallest within a year. I did not fear stretch marks on my belly.
I have always carried round a desire to be bigger busted but use bras and clothing to maximum effect. My larger bust during pregnancy was incredibly enjoyable and I did feel a little sad to have them sucked small again by my daughter.
However, continuous appreciation and adoration by my husband has helped me to once again embrace what loveliness I have. My breasts fed and nourished my baby. They did their job perfectly. How can I disregard or be unhappy with that?
I was given the gift of physical self acceptance very early on and am incredibly grateful for that. It is my mission to pass that gift onto my daughter so she can focus on all the beauty she has inside, and how she will offer that to the world.
About Love Mum-Body
On story of mum, we’re sharing photos of how our bodies have changed since we became mums and grandmums. You can photograph your actual body, or you can shape your body in plasticine. We don’t mind how you share it, as long as you do your very best to love it.
For some more inspiration, check out the guest posts we’ve had so far: