I gave birth to a beautiful little boy almost two years ago. Before I got pregnant I was super slim and always got compliments on how fit and pretty I was. I now weigh much more than I used to since giving birth and even though it's been almost two years I am struggling so much to be confident in my new body. I want to love it for what its been through and what its created but society tells me not to. Any advice on how to feel confident with my postpartum body?
Do you want to know something that is easily in the Top 10 of Things That Piss Me Off The Most in the Entire World? The way that our culture treats people's bodies after they've given birth.
Let's think about this: the person who spends 9 months growing both physically and emotionally in so many beautiful ways, who sacrifices, and learns, and changes, who endures pain, and pressure, and fear, and who has done something as powerful as house and bring ACTUAL HUMAN LIFE INTO THE WORLD... is then expected to feel like a failure for not 'bouncing back' to their pre-baby weight?! THAT SHIT MAKES ME SO ANGRY.
*takes deep breaths*
Our bodies are not rubber bands that are meant to snap back to their original size after every event that alters them. Our bodies are supposed to grow and change, to age and carry all the signs of our lives on them. I can't think of any event more worthy of those changes than giving birth. And I have no idea how we can possibly see those changes as anything other than breathtakingly beautiful. Actually, scratch that, I have very clear idea of how.
The overwhelming expectation on people to be ashamed of and disguise the signs of having given birth is a prime example of the way that diet culture preys on us when we are at our most vulnerable. Do you know how much money can be made from making every single human who's ever given birth feel like their bodies are suddenly wrong and selling them the cure? Billions. Stretch mark reducing creams. Special post-partum weight loss plans. Tummy tucks and breast enhancements. Baby body shame is a gold mine. And that is exactly why our society has convinced us that post-partum bodies should be hidden away, when in reality, they deserve to be celebrated as the life-giving masterpieces that they are.
Every stretch mark. Every scar. Every bit of skin that's looser than it was before and every part that hangs lower. Plus every extra pound that you gained along the way that's stuck around. None of these parts of your body are shameful. You never should have been convinced that they are.
So my advice to you, first and foremost, would be to really think about that, and catch some of my anger. Get angry about how heartless and cruel it is to teach people to hate their post-partum bodies for profit. Get angry about the time you've spent stuck in your mind feeling ashamed of your body rather than being fully present in your life. Get angry that your body did something as miraculous as create another human being and yet you're still being fed the lie that losing weight is the most important thing your body could do.
Then go and find some real representation of postpartum bodies being celebrated the way that they should be. Instagram pages like @takebackpostpartum and @4thtribodies that are dedicated to uplifting bodies that've given birth. Normalising seeing the features that you see as shameful on your own body is a great place to start on the way to accepting them.
Love & bopo,
P.s. I'd also like to say that if there's anyone reading this who's experienced body changes through pregnancy without giving birth or becoming a parent – you are just as powerful, your body is just as miraculous, and you deserve to be celebrated as much as anyone else.