My body is...

What words come into your head when you think about your body? Are you proud, happy, grounded? Or do you think first about the ‘problem areas’, the bits that should be different? Thinner, curvier, tighter, more flexible, just all-over better somehow?

       

 My body is… fat, flabby, drooping. Pulled by unrelenting gravity slowly downhill. Sadly, these are the words that come to me first.  I’m shocked. Since my second child turned one, I’ve been focusing on getting healthy again  - not dieting, that just makes me eat more - making room for exercise in my life, making opportunities to reconnect with my body again. But still these words come.

My whole life I’ve been plump. And it has always bothered me, sometimes more, sometimes less. But before children, the fat sat in the right places. It was disguisable. Not any more. I’m still breastfeeding, and my breasts are wonkier than ever . My round belly is now a flopping sag-bag.

Ironically, one of pregnancy’s greatest gifts was a new confidence in my body. I finally understood its purpose. The miracles it could perform. To grow a person, and then to nourish them in the world.  Pregnancy and birth gave me a connection to my body I had never felt before.

But now, as I go about my daily busy-ness, saggy bits flapping in the wind, how can I retain that sense that came with pregnancy - of beautiful function, pride and awe?

For starters, I’m carving out some precious time to get healthy... I walk a lot (I’m terrified of driving) but the pace is slow with two stumpy-legged littluns. Zumba makes me go bright red, and stay that way for a loooooong time. Much of the redness is from laughing, a lot, when I catch my reflection in the mirror (in my head: svelte, slinking, moves like Beyonce - in the mirror: wobbling middle-aged bingo caller). My favourite healthy pursuit, yoga, gives me moments of peace. It moves me inside my body, away from my rushing mind, stretching and strengthening.

torso

Yet that negative voice still returns.

From an early age, we’re constantly reminded of that need to achieve an impossible, youthful, constraining ideal: the perfect body. And as a mother, I now worry more for my daughter than I do for myself. To see her growing up in a world of Bratz dolls, celebrity bikini shamings and airbrushed fantasies.

I want to stop that voice that still heckles me from entering my daughter’s head. I want her to enjoy exercise. I want her to enjoy food. I want her to enjoy being herself. Most of all, I want her to enjoy her life, and her ability to give life.

I can’t stop all the unrealistic visions of perfection she will encounter as she grows up, but I can counter them, a little. By facing my own fears, my own unrealistic expectations of myself, I can try my very best to serve up an alternative version of beauty.

I want her to see that bodies of all shapes and sizes are gorgeous.  That we love our bodies for all the amazing things they can do. We care for and respect them, we don't break them down into defective bits. We don't feel ashamed. We know that we are beautiful because of how we live, and how we love, not what we look like.

So this month 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.

It was terrifying to load up a picture of my stomach (and I didn’t even load up the worst picture…) and yet there is something beautiful and empowering about seeing it in the online gallery.

My children lived there. I live there. It is not a problem area. It is me.

My body is amazing, extraordinary, beautiful. It is marked by the miracles of my life. It is a mother’s body. And I am doing my very best to love it for that. Love your Mum-Body. 

Torso Photo: Charles Nouyrit

Pippa's profile

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As well as being an exhausted but mostly happy mum, and one of the founders of Story of Mum, I write and work as a Script Consultant on feature films and co-run the Cross Channel Film Lab, helping writers and directors to tell their stories and reach an audience. I live with my surf-obsessed husband, hilarious son and daughter in a chaotic house in Cornwall, UK. Things that make me feel good: the sea, chocolate, zumba, yoga, and puddle-jumping.

Comments

Beautiful!

Oh I love this! If only I too had the courage to post a photo of my body (which btw, looks a lot like yours, only browner =) But I'm still coming into terms with this new horrible/lovely body of mine. I wish I was as brave as you are!

Thank you Dean

It was incredibly helpful to me posting this - about a year ago now. I'm finding that I'm slowly quieting those voices and spending more time feeling positive about my body - a friend commented recently that I am standing differently and even a simple thing like that, a sign of greater confidence, is changing how I look. I think that any time you feel shame about something, sharing that shame helps to diminish it. If you ever get to that point, we'll be here for you xxi

confidence

I've recently made me peace with what my mom body looks like. Not to say that I wouldn't change certain things if I really could, but I'm not self-conscious any more!

Hooray!

Thank you Shell, that gives me hope I will get there too - step by step... Motherhood has helped me to lose many of my body inhibitions, as well as introduce me to a few more... but things are definitely looking up (just not the breasts or the tummy these days, they seem to have lost their perk for now!) I'm thinking stopping breastfeeding soon will also make a big difference to how I feel about my body. Thanks so much for sharing your peace.

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