A Woman's Body

Lately I've been struggling with body acceptance. I've realized that my journey towards a positive body image will like be something I'm working on my whole life. Body acceptance, for many people, goes through highs and lows, and right now I'm coming out of a low. It can be summed up like this: I had a baby five months ago, and my stomach isn't flat and my hips aren't slim.

After having James, I lost the weight quickly, without special effort. My stomach was covered with stretch marks and was saggier than before, but I fit into most of my old clothes (although I did get rid of low-rise jeans because I just couldn't. I think other moms will get me here).

But during this last pregnancy, I could tell things were different. My feet grew, and now I have only a few pairs of shoes that fit and a shoe rack full of random heels and flats that I need to donate. My rib cage expanded, making all my bras feel like torture devices that I shuck off at every opportunity.

The hardest change was my hips growing. My only pair of maternity jeans, too baggy to wear during my last pregnancy, fit me perfectly this time around. When I tried on some non-maternity jeans with a belly band, it took a lot of work and shimmying to just baaarely fit them over my hips. Occasionally, I let myself indulge in worries about this hip spreading, but I tried to convince myself that it would all go back to normal after the baby came.

But after having Calvin, my hips did not shrink back down. The weight did not (and has not) magically come off. My stomach did not (and has not) flattened and tightened. And these past five months have been a bit of a struggle.

It is hard accepting and loving this new body. I'm grateful it carried my children, and I don't mind the stretch marks that bear testament to what I've done. But I hate when my stomach is hanging over my jeans, when I cannot zip any of the skirts I love, when I see how weird and saggy my belly button is. I hate missing the way I used to look.

I know it's a process to get to a good place with myself, that it takes more than eating well and exercising. Body acceptance comes from the inside and takes a special kind of love to attain and maintain.

These feelings, I know, plague thousands and thousands of women. And so I want to say to us all, we can get there. It will be hard but it will be worth it. You're not alone.


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