Bad Mum

Magazine

7 March 2018

THE BODY IMAGE ONE




I am writing the inevitable woman blog about how we all feel about our bodies....inevitable because my social media is saturated with other blog posts and photos from other women discussing the very same thing and I genuinely thought I was alright...I completely believed that I was very body positive...but I'm not, it's a big lie, a huge cover up...I too have issues and they're annoying me big time.

Let's start by throwing it back 20 years...I was pretty average size...a UK size 12, big boobs, big bum but utterly unconcerned about what I looked like. I rarely wore make up, my hair was naturally curly and to be honest a bit out of control...I loved food, I ate whatever I wanted and I drank a lot of beer in the pub with my mates and smoked about 20 Marlboro lights a day. So unhealthy but deliriously happy...this was before we shared photos on Facebook and in hindsight it was a time of little pressure to look any particular way.

A few years later I got married, I was unhappy and I was anxious....I lost a lot of weight...i controlled everything I ate, I avoided sugar, wheat, dairy...I didn't drink alcohol, I gave up smoking...I didn't really go out with my friends. I ran, I went to the gym, I was running on empty most of the time. I was a uk size 6, I could fit into children's clothes...didn't matter what I ate I was running on so much adrenaline that I burned calories just by being an anxious mess...a curious thing happened. People commented frequently about how "thin" I'd got but almost in a way that felt like they were praising me and it soothed my anxious soul and the seeds were then sown in my subconscious that people liked it more when I was thin and I liked people pleasing, it made me feel good. How easy it is to get into someone's head.

I then, aged 30, had two children in quick succession....nothing could've prepared me for the changes I would see to my body. My once flat tummy was decorated by stretch marks where my beautiful girls had grown quicker than my skin could deal with, breasts that once stood proud and entered a room before I did had practically withered from the girls sucking the very life out of them for over three years. Weight I had gained from nourishing myself in order to nourish my children stuck around my hips, my thighs, my bum...even my arms. Someone really should've told me that this is what I'm supposed to look like, this is normal, this is beautiful, this body represents strength and empowerment, this amazing body bears battle scars from successfully bringing new life to the world....I should've proudly flaunted it but I didn't. I hid it away feeling a bit sort of embarrassed. I saw photos of women in magazines and on Facebook and Instagram and compared myself, foolishly making comparisons between myself and girls 10 years younger who hadn't had kids, I even compared myself to my pre baby self and listened to the voice in my head that told me that people used to like me more when I was thinner. I'm pretty annoyed about that now.

I am now nearly 41 years old. I had a significant accident last year that has made me pretty much take stock of all things in my life....it has also resulted in physically scarring me, it has made me unable to exercise and to just sit down for 6 months. It has highlighted to me how deeply I care about body image, even when I was in hospital in plaster from head to toe I still couldn't face people without my make up on...when I could barely mobilise at all I made my friend give me a bath and shave my legs for me all the while worrying what she might think of my saggy boobs and mum tummy....i am so annoyed with myself for being so unkind to my sweet lovely body that has been through so much.

I am currently on holiday, I needed this, I felt physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted by the past six months. But something has happened on this break...yesterday I put on my bikini and played in the sea, I haven't worn make up for days..I have really looked at myself and I feel proud of my body for the first time in 20 years. I don't want to live my life worrying about whether or not to have that amazing looking bit of chocolate cake, I don't want to feel that I have to exhaust myself through exercise to conform to a body image that isn't attainable. Being your authentic true self feels much better than being skinny does and I can say that from experience.

It's a fact that last year my outcome could've been so very different...I could've died and I could've wasted most of my adult life worrying about whether I look good or not...I know it's not just me, I know so many women are feeling insecure about their appearance and I want it to stop. Let's just all give ourselves a break...I'll start it by sitting in my bikini, eating cake and having a glass of wine at 2 on a Sunday afternoon because I'm on holiday. We are gorgeous just the way we are. 💜

Written by Becky @midwife_nextdoor 


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