Body Image: Fit, Fat or Famine

I find myself writing this as I recently had to get into a swimsuit for my son’s swimming lessons.  8 months post partum at the time, and my body is not what it used to be.  I got in my one piece bathingsuit, hesitantly looked in the mirror, let out an  audible  “ugh, ew”, and got on with it…

Having been off work for 10 months now on maternity leave, I have spent my fair share of time on Social media (more than I’d like to admit!).  I’m perpetually bombarded with images and ads of teas claming to help me lose weight, shakes that promise to shave off the pounds and creams that will rid me of my cellulite. Imagine that! Honestly, though?IMG_3811

In this day and age, where women are more empowered than ever (but there is still certainly miles of progress to be made and obstacles to overcome), why do we even give these any thought? Why do we STILL give in to these fads?  Getting ourselves to an “ideal” weight (whatever that is) or fitting into those size 4 jeans because all of the girls in their OOTD on instagram are in what appears to be a size 0 (OOTD = outfit of the day for those of you who have a life outside of the internet). Because having a pooch or saddlebags means you’re not healthy.  Having stretch marks means you’re not beautiful. Being anything but a size 2 means you are lazy and unfit. Insert hardcore eyeroll.

I am sick of it. It’s high time we cut ourselves some slack. Enough with the “ugh, ew” in the mirror.

I’ve never opened up about this, and certainly not in a public forum such as a blog for the world to read, but I have struggled with body image since I can remember. I’ve never had any eating disorders, but I have certainly put myself through my share of boot camps, carb-free diets, diet pills, calorie counting and now, most recently, “dealing” with a few extra pounds after having a child.  I find myself frequently reminding my ever forgetful brain – my body did (and still does) amazing things – it carried, nutured and now continues to nurture and feed a super rad little human. Yet, despite that, I am hung up on something so superficial like few extra pounds and have this skewed perspective of my body. Who created this standard that we should all be lean, skinny and pulled tighter than the skin on a drum? Enough is enough. Let’s stop being so hard on ourselves. Everyone’s body has their own story, whatever it might be, and that’s what makes us women so amazing.

Do the exercise because it keeps us healthy – not because we should feel forced to succumb to this body image that isn’t realistic. Eat well because it makes you feel good  – not because you can’t wear a crop top that only 18 year olds can get away with. Lift those weights because it makes you feel stronger in your every day life – not because you need to get a 12 pack like the chick on the cover of the health magazine.

The bombardment of what “healthy” is as defined through media certainly wont cease within the next while, so its imperative we see ourselves for what we are – strong, healthy and beautiful. If only we can empower ourselves, we can leave an imprint of strength and confidence on our next generation. While it doesn’t happen overnight, I’m slowly learning to do this with every waking day.

Once you can take the pressure of yourself to be this vision of “perfect”, slowly learn to wear those stretch marks with pride and embrace the parts of you that jiggle a little bit, we can all start to be more comfortable in our own skin.  Listen to the compliments of your partner, friends, family instead of the nagging little voice in your head…you’re beautiful the way you are.

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