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Because post-baby, flaunting and snapping back aren't my reality...
You counted the pounds that Kendra Wilkinson and Jessica Simpson gained in pregnancy (60 and 70 respectively, so you said). You gushed over Alessandra Ambrosio's “post-baby” body a mere two months after she gave birth.
You praised Beyonce for losing 60 pounds in six months and admiringly informed me that she was off all over the place, “flaunting” her slimmed down body. Flaunting. As if a woman's body is something to be performed.
You accused Aishwarya Rai of not doing her duty to India by letting maternity change her body. She's still beautiful and I had to laugh. You made it so obvious then that you think our bodies are public property. Your property in our hands, with a money-back guarantee on how it should all appear.
I look at my naked body in the mirror. Ha. Had I been in your gaze you'd want your money back. You'd probably taunt me for not “snapping back”. You know, like you said you thought Jennifer Garner had done as you scrutinised the wind blowing a baggy top around her. You know, when you stared to see where the lines of her tummy were, as if that's not weird? As if it's not weird to stare like that?
My muscles and organs were being rearranged after my daughter was born. My perineum was healing. My daughter was, still is, a year on, attached to me. Where does “snapping” anything fit into all of that?
My belly is soft, squidgy and round. It's flattened somewhat but the skin... The skin is wrinkly and loose. It's stretch-marked. It will always remember the place where my body expanded to grow a baby, that part of me where I gave someone life. I look at this human being. She smiles, makes jokes, explores the world and demands more of me than anyone else ever has.
This is probably why I don't get what you mean when you toss around the phrase “post-baby”, as if the baby has gone off somewhere and we should look and be unchanged. As if that's something any mother can possibly be. As if that's something we should be aspiring to be.
She has changed me completely. She has set me free. I have gone from wishing I could afford breast reduction surgery to marvelling at my breasts' beauty because they nourish and comfort my baby. They are not the shape or size you say they should be or even where you say they should be.
Sometimes that bothers me but mostly I don't have the time to think about it much. I don't know how many pounds I weigh. I don't always shave my legs. I've forgotten what you said my thighs are supposed to look like.
It's not that I don't care about my looks. I just refuse to obsess anymore, or at least not as much. I'm too busy doing things I care about like mothering, praying, reading, working, having sex or catching up on sleep.
About Love Mum-Body
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, and claim it for yourself.
Read some more of our Love Mum-Body blog posts: