On my way home from the gym today, I was chatting with my friend about body image. Both of us being mothers of four breastfed children, we shared in the laments over our stretched out bellies and breasts. We shared with one another our own struggles against body confidence, how our mothers' words and actions had affected the ways in which we viewed ourselves and our hopes and dreams for our own daughters.
It is hard to feel comfortable with your own female form in this day and age. When we are constantly being bombarded by images of what some person somewhere decided was the "ideal" female shape, it is hard to find acceptance in a body that cannot fit that mold.
I grew up with a lot of inner confidence, but sadly lacking the outer confidence that I needed. I felt confident in my knowledge and abilities, but was scared of how I might appear to other people. It has taken many years to accept this body, this shape, these genes, this skin that cocoons the very essence of who I am.
When I started birth work, I was given the opportunity to see a wide range of female bodies, and I was blown away with how beautiful they were. No matter if a woman was short or tall, tiny or large, this pregnant mother was breath-taking in my eyes. Because pregnancy and birth were not about focusing on what was wrong, but rather on focusing on what was right with the female body.
These bodies of ours, they are amazing. These stripes of stretched skin bear the mark of our having a hand in the creation of another human being. This extra fluff on the belly belies the fat that was stored for transporting extra nutrients to a child if need be. These not-so-perky breasts mark the wisdom that has been gained through patiently nursing, nourishing, nurturing these four children now half grown. This body is an outward reminder of the inner changes that have occurred in my life.
This female form is not beautiful because it is firm and toned and polished and perfect. This female form is beautiful because it has worked hard in its feminine role of growing, bearing, nourishing, and loving these little people in my life. Why hide these accomplishments? Wear them proudly because you earned them.