Growing up I was always on the more confident side when it came to my body image, however, I am only human and as a woman being raised in a culture and society that likes to tell you what is "wrong" with you every turn you take, I too have had my moments of insecurity. There is that scene in the movie Mean Girls that I think every woman can relate to, where they each stand in front of the mirror and pinpoint all the things they wish were different about their bodies. It is so sad, but an honest reflection of how we often treat ourselves. Like I said, in regards to body image, I was always on the more confident side, pretty comfortable in my own body. But as I became an adult and my body started going through inevitable changes, I started dealing with more and more insecurities. I developed a self-deprecating humor in regards to my body. This joking about my body became my coping mechanism, as it was a challenge for me to accept and figure out this new woman body I was developing. I have talked about this several times on my blog before. As a teen I was very athletic and active and could eat whatever I wanted, and then around the age of 22 my metabolism completely changed as well as my overall lifestyle. As an adult, most of us just don't have the time to play three sports year round like we did in high school haha ;) The reality for me was that I couldn't keep my 17 year old body forever, and I had to let go of that idea even though the world I live in tells you, you should look like a preteen as an adult. The funny thing about ideal body types anyways is that they are always changing decade to decade, but I guess that is an entirely different post and I will spare you.
While I have been figuring out that transition over the last few years, I have seen my body change yet again as I experience pregnancy. At first this was really hard for me. My breasts and hips grew so fast I had stretch marks within the first few months. About a month ago I noticed some more developing underneath my stomach. Up until that point I only had the ones on my hips and had none on my stomach area, and so I was surprised to see them. But I guess I shouldn't be when you realize just how big my belly actually is! haha The weight gain, stretch marks, water retention, swelling, and hormonal acne that has decided to show up, all came to a head (ironic choice of words) one night and I got a little emotional. I didn't even recognize myself anymore. Who was this person?! Trevor was there and told me that I was being crazy and that I was beautiful and not to worry so much about it all. He then started to express that he doesn't see why women get hung up on stretch marks. It made me really think about it. Why do we? How are they any different than birth marks really? And these are markings we earned doing something pretty amazing! His words helped me more than he knows.
While I still have my self-deprecating humor attached to these changes; calling myself a bloated hippo, or talking about my lack of jaw line, I have found something sweet attached to this experience. My body is changing for a very special and specific reason, to create life and give that life the best environment to thrive. It is a lot easier to be kinder to yourself when you go through body changes and adjustments when it is attached to something as sweet and as beautiful as a new little baby. On another evening, when my hormones were probably more in check, while oiling up my pregnant belly I stopped and stared at myself in the mirror and I had a moment that has never happened with me and my body before. I looked at myself and said, "this is beautiful." In that moment I didn't see the stretch marks on my hips, or bloated body, I just noticed these curves that represented womanhood, and life. It is the most positive body image I have ever had with myself. Ironic considering my list of complaints about my body right now are probably the longest I have ever had. While I am not perfect, at least now when I find myself having a weak moment about my body, I have taken myself back to that moment in the mirror.
I know that after this pregnancy my body will never be the same again, but I won't be the same again either. Pregnancy has started to change the way I view my body. After birth, everyone is always trying to achieve the look that they never had children, that is the ultimate goal. Women connect their dress size to their self worth. It is so hard to express the sentiment I am trying to get across without sounding like I am contradicting myself, but I think there is such a fine line and we as women cross it all the time and all too easily. At the end of the day we all want to be healthy, fit, and look good. I don't think there is anything wrong with trying and wanting to achieve that. In fact, I think it is what we should be doing and that it is the healthy way to be living. This pregnancy has taught me that my body should be celebrated and loved. To me that means I will treat it with respect by trying to feed it right and exercise. It also means that I will look at my stretch marks, or not as tight skin, and not feel embarrassed. I can look at that and say my body did it's job, and a well done one at that. I can view the changes in my body as experiences and not imperfections. The reality is, there is no such thing as perfection, so why view those things we can't change as anything but perfect parts of who we are? Especially since we all have them. Let's celebrate them! I have developed a new appreciation and love for my body throughout this experience, and I am so grateful for this new perspective as I am about to become a mother and want to pass on a healthy body image and confidence to my daughter. I know that I will have good days and bad days with these kinds of thoughts, but I also know that every time I look at my daughter's face... I will always be proud of my body and what it did. Our bodies are powerful creations from our Heavenly Father, and we should be nothing but honored and amazed at the capabilities and beauty in them.