I love my body.
I know, it's a weird thing to just proclaim. It feels weird. But really, people don't say it nearly enough. In a society where hating our body is the norm, people with average, non-supermodel-y bodies aren't really supposed to like their bodies. There's supposed to be something we don't like about ourselves. Something that could be better, bigger, smaller, more toned. At least that's the message we get from the media, from our peers... from everyone.
Y'know what? I think that's bullshit. We put entirely too much energy into what we don't like about ourselves. Just think how much better it would be if we actually liked ourselves; if we used that energy to do good things for ourselves, our friends, our communities.
Most of my 26 years I have disliked something about my body. From my "poop brown" hair when I was little (my new baby sister had blond curls) to my big butt, small boobs, pimply face... even freckles weren't spared my wrath. I hated it all. A few things have changed my perspective.
First, it was meeting J. He loves women's bodies. He loves bodies. He helped me to see that my little bit of belly pudge that wouldn't go away with situps was really quite little. That being a member of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee was a good thing in some peoples' eyes. That I have a perky butt, beautiful eyes, and that my "tiger spots" are unique and darn cool. J did wonders for my self image.
Then I started bellydancing. I realized that the women who wowed me with their performances were not necessarily the tall, skinny, toned ones. I actually wanted to have a little more to jiggle to enhance my shimmies. I envied women with curves. I realized that it was about technique and using what you've got, rather than aspiring to be the super-toned workout goddess I would never be.
Then I got pregnant. Pregnancy really works your body over. I got bigger in the strangest of places. My thighs looked smaller as my belly got bigger. My ribcage spread. And J adored all of me. I realized that I couldn't anticipate how my body would change or what it would look like afterwards. I would just have to embrace it, or be miserable. I embraced it. Once Doodle was born, I quickly lost the pregnancy weight. My boobs got huge. My butt shrank to half its former size (I like to say it fed Doodle). My belly was a little more jiggly than before and a little different shape. And I loved it all. My body grew and nourished a human being for over a year between pregnancy and nursing exclusively. It still makes milk for Doodle as she approaches her second birthday. My body is amazing.
Thinking about Miss Doodle, wondering what she will be like as she grows up, got me thinking about body image issues. I can hope all I want that she won't hate her body like I hated mine. That she won't consider starving herself or doing extra sets of situps because someone jokes about her butt or tummy. That she won't want to hide her developing body in big baggy clothes because of comments that her peers may make. But I can't control that. The best I can do for her is to be a good role model. To show her that it's okay to love your body, to feel proud of the things you can do and the way that you look. That everyone's body is different, and everyone's body is beautiful. I hope I can help her to be a confident, self-assured young woman. I will try.