It’s an amazing thing. It grew and housed another human. It provided food for that tiny human. It expanded, it shrunk, it contracted. It really is a source of amazement – I’m pretty amazed at just how much weight I managed to gain and carry when I was pregnant. I took the guidelines of ‘expected’ weight gains and ate them along side my two lunches before my 3 course dinner. Being pregnant really was a great time (*rain check, other than eating like a hungry horse, no it wasn’t).
Despite having an awestruck view of my body, I suffer, like many, with body hang ups and gripes. Although, I’m in two minds if they are my gripes or the gripes of social media. Do I look in the mirror and think ‘fucking hell Kirsty, could you get anymore cellulite on that arse!’ – well, no, not really. Do I look at pictures on social media and evaluate my dimpled arse based on that of the smooth ‘mother of 3’ squatting queen of the world’s arse? Yes, of course, it’s extremely difficult to ignore. Impossible to ignore. Bodies of all shapes and sizes are everywhere and that’s fair enough. I applaud the so called ‘curvy’ bodies, the slim bodies, the toned bodies, the ‘I just had a baby, check me wobble’ bodies, the ‘I’m a teenager and eat junk food all day long, yet have better abs than a gymnast’ bodies, the big bodies, the cellulite bodies and the ‘average’ bodies. Go for it, flaunt and snap away, I’m a nosy, borderline pervert, social media stalker, I want to see it. But not all of it, some I’ll shield from my insecure eyes.
Since the expelling of the child, I have developed my own inbuilt social media filter. There are those accounts that I will not follow and those that I will. Anything of the ‘natural’ sort will get my approval. I’m talking the raw and real pictures of child birth, the new mums in their mesh nappies, the new fathers holding the baby upside down (I kid), posts that aren’t the airbrushed ‘birth is fantastic’ crap. As, for me, birth was not all that fantastic, unlike I had previously been lead to believe via social media. The same is applied to ‘body’ images, I steer clear of flat stomached, perky boobed, flawless make up, textbook ‘gorgeous’ people. Instead I opt to follow people that I perceive to be more ‘real’, I like the un-toned tums, the wobbly bums, the laughter lines, the muffin tops, the body in all it’s natural glory. All the more so if that person is a parent.
Why do I like it? Simply, because it makes me feel better about myself.
Pre baby I was fairly body confident. Sure, I had moans that I would like a slimmer this and a toned that, but never enough to force me to diet or exercise with any great intent. Post baby, well, that’s a bit more tricky, it’s a bit of a complicated relationship. And one that social media won’t let wander far from the forefront of my mind. Like much of pregnancy and birth, I held a naive view that, not only would my body be ‘almost’ the same as before, but also that I would have no problem with any changes. Stretch marks, pah, I laugh in the face of stretch marks! Not on my watch, and anyway, they will fade. Stretched and, gosh! dare I say…sagging boobs?! Na, that’s fine, I’d love some big boobs for a change.
Could I have been any more naive?
Lets be completely clear here, I do not hate my body. I do not hate any aspect of my body. In fact, I quite like it. In theory, at least. What I do have a problem with is other people, and by saying that, also my perception of myself and others. I let other people shape my perception of myself, it’s the exact reason I don’t follow the toned and beautiful people of social media. We are our own harshest critics, and the last thing I need to be doing is looking at some toned, fit woman bench pressing her body to perfection while I lay on my sofa, flicking Snickers crumbs off my deflated chest. Erm, no, my mind is no where near that level of ‘self love’ just yet. Good for her, go for it my friend. You do you and I’ll do me, face full of snickers.
I find it interesting that, on the surface, I’m all for people of all shapes and sizes. Meanwhile, underneath, I feel intimidated, jiggly, stretched, protective and defensive. Previously, before devil child, I would think nothing of wearing a bikini on a nice holiday in the sun. The skimpier the better. My body wasn’t toned, it wasn’t graced with beautiful curves, it wasn’t cellulite free. It was, pretty much, EXACTLY the same as it is today. Ok, so there’s a few baby pounds still kicking about, well, not really baby pounds at this stage in the game, more like lazy pounds. And yes, areas of my body have changed, like slightly wider hips and different shaped/hanging/whatever the right term is, boobs. But that’s really it. Physically I may not have changed vastly, but mentally, that’s a different story. It’s sad to admit, that now, as I’m faced with a holiday in the sun, I’m faced with my body and I kinda feel defensive and insecure. Put simply, 5 years ago, as I swantered about in a bikini I wouldn’t have flinched if someone laughed. Now? Well, now I know that even someone coughing as I walk past them would make my mind run into over drive. I’d be thinking they are commenting on my somethings, my whatevers, my belly jiggle or my butt dimples.
And I just cannot handle that.
At times I tell myself I am confident, and I may project that image, but it’s not always the truth. The truth spills out my mind when I’m at most vulnerable, when I am naked. For my daughters sake, and my own, a super confident body suit is worn. I do feel at ease streaking about the house, jiggling the jiggles as I run around the living-room before heading to the shower. However, when it comes down to the nitty gritty, the naked without humour I’m not so confident and it eats at my mind. To the point that I can struggle with areas of my body – I’m looking you titty McTittersons.
It’s confusing and frustrating that my mind has gone from a somewhat confident, ego boosting body loving pal to a jealous, nasty, fraught and scared nemesis. Bluntly, if someone muttered a stupid high school joke about the size of my arse, it would play on my mind for a long time. It would be left to my partner to do serious damage control. My once strong mind, would crumble and weep. And I really fucking hate it.
How the hell did I let that happen?!
I’ll tell you why. Have you ever been on social media after becoming a mum? Have you ever seen the jokes about baggy fanny this? Saggy tits that? (to be fair they don’t bother me too much). What I bet you didn’t know it that becoming a ‘mum’ is a disease. The symptoms include belly wobbles, dry skin, dark eye circles, baggy eyes, seriously elastic skin, incontinence, no muscle tone whatsoever and just generally looking like shit. And the worse part is, you don’t even know you have the mum’s until social media has decided you really could be doing better with the way you look, and your life in general. But don’t worry! You can be cured, hurrah! Every if you’ve caught ‘the mums’, social media can cleanse you. And that healing shit is rife.
Did you know that there are 7 ways to ‘beat the post-baby belly’? Or, what is it they call it? ‘the post-partum tum’? Did you know that you can have fast and effective workouts to tighten and tone all the loose bits of your body, growing that pesky child created while said child naps? You too, can work those abs and kegels at the same time, for faster results – talk about multitasking! Banishing those baby bingo wings can be done in 30 days, while you let that honey and avocado hair mask replenish all the hair you lost during pregnancy. There’s magnetic bras that will hike up those saggy girls back in place, meanwhile there are approximately 1 zallion ways to reduce side fat…side fucking fat, I think I’m going to need to install panoramic bloody mirrors just to keep up with all my body hangups.
Stop the fucking bus. I want off. Or do I want on? I had no idea pregnancy was such an ailment. No idea that I would need to spent the next 10 years of my life fighting to look like Kirsty of yore. According to some (all) social media I need to sort my lifeless limp hair, tone up those horrific, ghastly ‘tiger stripes’ on my side, leg (just one leg, I’m confused too) and boobs (how do you tone boobs? I guess that’s what the bra is for), eat 1371 portions of chia seeds and kale a day, and look like I did when I was 18. Otherwise, I’m just not trying enough and a complete ugly, wobbly, squiggly, past it ‘mum’.
On a daily basis I’m bombarded with ways to fix my ‘post-baby body’. As if I don’t have enough crazy kicking about my head already. It’s bloody ridiculous. You know, I didn’t examine my body half as much as I do since catching ‘mum’. No wonder I , and thousands of other women, struggle with our post baby body. I have struggled with my changed body since child birth. I do have stretch marks, which don’t bother me, it’s the extra piece of skin they created that’s the issue. My hips have expanded, quickly followed by my arse and thighs. My boobs, well they took on a whole other life of their own during pregnancy and breast feeding. While I say ‘bother me’ what I should be saying is I’m bothered by what someone else might think. For me, the stretch marks on my body are personal, they remind me of a very wild crazy adventure I’ve been on. But that thought it sorely tainted with wanting thighs to appear toned. It’s almost as if every single nice thought I have there’s a negative thought only too keen to jump in and tell me why it’s wrong to like the massive finger width stretch marks on my hip. The extra skin gives me a muffin top, so I hide in high waisted jeans. Isn’t it sad that a woman can go through one of the most beautiful, intimate, powerful and stressful times of her life, only to come out the other side and be made to feel ‘ugly’.
Really though, I’m fucking sick of going on Pinterest and seeing random shit about how I can look like I did pre baby, it’s not like I ticked a box saying ‘yes, Pinterest, please tell me how I can fix my body’. There’s nae chance I selected any form of exercise or tit lifter-uppers. None. What I did select is mum bloggers, families, fashion, crafts, activities – stuff of the ‘mummy’ nature. Look, don’t get me wrong, sure there are post-partum wraps and exercises to help mums who experienced ab muscles popping out (that gives me the hibbies), or a prolapse, or who’s hair really did all jump ship, but back boobs? Inner thigh tighteners? Jaw line workouts? No fucking way. Get tae! No wonder I hate clothes shopping now, no wonder I look in those horrendously lit mirrors while in the changing room and think ‘sake man! That’s it, apples for dinner, all week. Nothing else’. No wonder I have been in tears asking my partner if he still finds me attractive and uttered the word ‘but how could you?’. No fucking wonder women are mental.
I’m torn between knowing whats right – building my self confidence for me, based on me. Or passing up on that delicious looking muffin because muffins are fat and fat gives cellulite and cellulite gives me sad eyes and sad eyes hate clothes shopping and sad eyes eventually make me cry. The right thing to do is to stop comparing my body to others, and to say out loud that I actually really do like my body and keep saying it, so that one day this will be the louder voice in my head. Then I will be able to eat the muffin without self chastising.
One day, when I’m an old lady and my tits really have hit the floor, I will look back and think ‘what a fucking idiot you were’ to think that I’am anything other than beautiful. It’s just so hard not to let clothes size define you. Especially when I’m being told on Pinterest that my elbows are looking a little bit chubby.
Elbows man, elbows. I give up, pass the Snickers.