The body is an incredible force and yet, even after making a human being, can face criticism, with many new mothers asking how to accept your body after baby. We caught up with Sam Streeter, a new mom herself, who shares her journey into postpartum body acceptance, but it's a story many of us will resonate with, baby or not.
I had a picture of how my pregnancy journey would look.
I figured I’d be nourishing my growing baby with fresh juices, smoothie bowls, and giant salads. I saw myself going on long walks, practicing yoga, and meditating with my hands on my belly. The reality was I had horrible morning sickness and being forced to stay home due to COVID-19 was working in my favour.
I had never been so sick in my life.
There were broken blood vessels all over my face, neck, and in my eyes. Luckily, I didn’t have to/ couldn’t go out in public. I watched from my couch as yoga and fitness studios offered Instagram live classes. I was far too nauseous to participate. I could hardly even keep water down. My diet started to consist mainly of soda crackers and toast.
For someone who envisioned themselves snacking on fruit, absolutely glowing, with a perfect bump in the sunshine, here I was glued to the couch, feeling like garbage, craving an egg McMuffin.
I decided to give myself a free pass during my pregnancy.
If I felt like the only thing that was going to quench my thirst was a certain ice tea with specific crushed ice, I was gonna get it. By the time the nausea started to ease up I was getting extremely uncomfortable in my body. I was tossing and turning through the night and so tired all day.
While jokes were floating around about the “COVID-15”—as in the 15lbs some were gaining during our days of isolation—I was taking it to heart and not giving my body the grace it deserved for the job it was doing.
There is an extreme amount of societal pressure for us to look a certain way, even throughout pregnancy. You’re expected to maintain a sleek physique, your bump should be perfectly round and of course, your skin needs to be absolutely glowing.
To say the least, there’s pressure at every stage of life, even while you’re busy creating it.
I cringe when I hear “you look so skinny”, “you’ve lost weight” comments on women’s bodies. The truth of the matter is, our bodies are the least interesting thing about us. Even if someone’s lost weight you have no idea how or why. Instead, try complimenting something non-physical. How about the fact that they look happy? And maybe ask them how their heart is. That’ll dig a little deeper and display your true sense of care.
Everybody and every-body is different.
I’ve decided to (try my best to) love myself as I am, right here and now. I refuse to hold on to clothes that don’t fit me, because that’s just it, it’s not me that doesn’t fit into the clothes, it’s the clothes that don’t fit me.
I’m learning to have a healthier relationship with food and my eating habits. I haven’t torn up my free pass because I think we all deserve to feed our cravings here and there. Food is meant to be enjoyed, not simply satiate us. Eat food that fuels you and gives you energy. Enjoy meals that are colourful and please multiple senses. Move your body for means of pleasure, not punishment.
Am I happy with how I look now? Some days yes and some days no. I’m working on it. I’m done with the nostalgia of a past me. I’ve looked back on so many photos and envied that girl. Like, “damn, I looked good there” but did she think she looked good then? Did she feel confident in her skin? I guarantee the answer was no. I honestly can’t recall a time I was truly happy with my body and that’s a sad statement to swallow. That’s 35 years of letting my body dictate my mood and impact relationships.
I haven’t stepped on a scale in years. I didn’t know what I weighed pre-pregnancy, I have no idea how much I gained during, and I’m not sure where I’m at now. I know my body has fluctuated and evolved, just as a riverbed dances and swells, creating curves and leaving markings like dimples and stretch marks on our skin.
I opened an email from Jenna Kutcher this morning that mirrored my thoughts about body image at the moment. Here’s a taste to help wrap things up:
Your body deserves sunshine. And enjoyment. And play! And fun. Adventure.
Whatever your body can do and whatever YOU want to do—you should! No matter what shape or texture you’ve got going on! A “summer body” is the same thing as a winter body. It’s a body. It’s YOU and it’s alive!
Put on the swimsuit or don’t. Cut those jeans into jorts or don’t! Let your arms flap in the breeze or don’t! Show up as who you are.
I for one am tired of hiding myself or feeling like I need to shield others’ eyes from having to see who I am and what I look like. I like this body. It’s freaking cool. It does things for me that I really like. And so I shall return the love it gives me with swimming, walks, clothes that let the sunshine in, ones that let me breathe and play.
So, please, appreciate your body for all it does for you.
Don’t waste precious days and years hiding yourself and missing out because of someone else’s standards.
We are all born beautiful. We marvel and aww at the rolls and chub on a baby. We consider it the picture of health. Somewhere along the way, our perception shifted and we learned to pick ourselves apart. Your health should be defined by how you feel, mind, body, and soul. Enjoy yourself.
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