Laurie Toby Edison

Photographer

Amazing Body

Jen is our newest guestblogger:

I have an amazing body.

Right now, in this moment, I know that to be true. As a mother, I have watched and felt and seen my body move through the magical path of pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. My arms and breast, touch and kisses can make everything better for my children. My body is strong and my body is perfect.

Usually, though, my body image is not so perfect. It’s embarrassing the time I’ve wasted wishing that I were thinner. Fuming because I’m not beautiful. Angry about this wretched acne that still hasn’t gone away at age 35. Royally pissed off to have a stupid auto-immune disease. I even wished that after my c-section I’d have some mild complication that would need minor surgery so I could talk the doctor into a free tummy tuck. Four children leave a mark.

I know how shallow those thoughts sound when you read them in print. I cannot explain why I have them, and I certainly don’t want them. I see the irony, too, since I don’t give a flying fig what you look like, what you weigh, or how tall you are. I am critical of other people, but I criticize them for being unkind or starting wars or not sharing when they obviously have extras.

I remember exactly when I began to worry about my weight. I was a pre-teen, not even 100 pounds, and someone pointed out that I was, as she said, finally, starting to get some fat on my inner thighs. There has hardly been a day since that I have not worried about how much I weigh. It isn’t her fault, and, no, she wasn’t my mother. My mother has never, ever once told me I weigh too much. Which worries me that I won’t be able to somehow save my daughters from this mindset.

They are, however, saving me from it. My first two children were born in hospital, but my third, my first daughter, was born at home. I have never been more amazed by or proud of my body. I felt so powerful, so capable and confident. I remember what I thought while holding my minutes-old daughter as the sun came up, a cool breeze from the open front door blowing on us. I thought, “My body is perfect.”

Funny how the thing that so radically changed my body also gave me the perspective I needed to learn how to love it. And when my children’s small hands find their way to my cheek and I hear them tell me I am beautiful, I am. Their unconditional love for me gives me the courage to let them stand by me while I get dressed so they can see what a real body is. It lets me not be offended when they ask about the silver lines on my hips or the wrinkles on my face. It’s allowing me, at last, to include myself when celebrating the beauty of all women.


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9 Responses to “Amazing Body”

  1. Lynne Murray Says:

    I’ve never had a child, but sometimes I think (for women in particular) it sometimes takes another’s perception of us, a lover’s praise perhaps, to bring home to us how beautiful our bodies are. Something that takes us out of the brainwashed focus on how our bodies don’t meet some artificial standard. Now, getting older, it’s easier to focus on what hurts or doesn’t work as well as it used to, instead of celebrating how brilliantly this body functions in keeping me in this world and allowing me to enjoy so many things.

  2. capello Says:

    I let the boys see me naked whenever they want to… they walk in while I’m taking a shower, watch me get dressed. I figure it’s Much More Healthy for them to see a real body, and be raised with a real body, rather than perpetuating the “ideal” body.

  3. Mom and Much More Says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post. I’m still struggling with accepting my post partum body. This feeling that I’m not the same anymore because I gained weight and grew weak haunts me. I’m still not sure whether I should work out more or change my perspective. Probably a little bit of both. But I admire women who look in the mirror and think their bodies are perfect the way they are.

  4. mamadaisy Says:

    thanks for such a beautiful essay.

  5. Patsy Nevins Says:

    This is indeed beautiful. I am a mother too, & it has been a long hard process to accept my natural body, especially since it is also a fat body. To you, Mom & Much More, as a woman who exercises every day & has often fought demons of a compulsive need to try exercise 3-4 hours daily (which I did recently for over 3 years, losing a grand total of maybe 15-20 pounds over the entire time & damaging my joints, putting excessive stress on my body, & alienating me further from my natural body), I would guess that you need to change your perspective & work on developing genuine self-love & the ability to see you beauty rather to increase your workouts. Workouts, as the word is meant, are not really a necessary or healthy practice for anyone except maybe competitive athletes, who push & abuse their bodies for performance & often actually DAMAGE their health. Over many years, research consistently shows that whatever health benefits one may gain from regular exercise will come from moderate exercise, about 30-40 minutes of walking daily, or swimming, biking, some moderate activity one enjoys. It isn’t necessary, nor is it realistic & healthy, for us to expect or try to have the same bodies we had before we had children, just as it is not necessary, realistic, or healthy for me to expect to look just the same as I approach my 57th birthday as I did approaching my 25th. Changing, growing, evolving, is a natural part of life, aging is a natural process, pregnancy & childbirth, & breastfeeding are all processes which change us forever, & that is just the natural order of things. We are beautiful & perfect & always good enough just as we are…at every size, shape, age, & stage of life. I send best wishes & positive vibes to all of us to embrace, appreciate, & celebrate our unique, irreplaceable, & everchanging beauty. THAT is the reality, & that is the true beauty of human beings, not the artificial, plastic, airbrushed, computer-enhanced, & surgically altered images which are held up to us as “ideals” & shown to us for their “aspirational” appeal, so that we may further hate ourselves, aspire to look like plastic women, & spend a great deal of money on products we do not need which do not work.

    And indeed, I too say thank you for this beautiful essay.

  6. menoblog Says:

    Thank you for this essay Jen.
    To survive this aging thing with my happiness intact, i will forget about the physical “imperfections” of my body, the lumps and the lines. I will think of the things that work; the legs that walked 10 miles yesterday, the breasts that fed a child, the arms that kneaded dough for dinner, the face my husband loves.

  7. marian Says:

    Nicely done, Jen.

    Right now, in my 50s, I probably feel better about my body than I ever have. Not because it’s more attractive or better put-together, but because I’ve been able to extract myself from much of the destructive mindset that made my earlier decades so full of self-loathing.

    Plus, for the last 16 years I’ve been loved by a man who finds me beautiful in every way. That’s an astonishing experience, especially when you’ve never had it before, and it’s helped me to understand that I never have to believe anything else if I don’t want to.

  8. Caloden Says:

    “…when my children’s small hands find their way to my cheek and I hear them tell me I am beautiful, I am.”

    Truly beautiful words. And so deeply true.

  9. diane Says:

    Wow. I got a bit misty-eyed reading this. I’ve not had the pleasure of having children yet, but I appreciate how it can turn your perception of your body into seeing it as a very amazing thing.

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