A woman’s body during pregnancy is one of the most incredible things in life. We create, grow and birth whole human beings. We have to endure tiny bladders, back ache and leaking nipples for nine months: then proceed to walk this exhausted life for 18+ years. We give up everything for our children: including our bodies. Our boobs become a personal drinks machine and don’t even get me started on being stuck under a sleeping baby when you need the toilet!
We often become aliens in our own bodies. Unable to feel comfortable in this new skin.
You could say, that our bodies change during the course of motherhood. From the moment that seed starts to grow inside of us, our bodies change forever.
The moms that have lost babies, find it hard to conceive and those who carry to full term: our bodies are moved by this process.
We are told that our bodies are made for this job: a baby factory. Our skin changes and we are told to accept that this is life now. We have to love and be confident in this foreign place. But sometimes it’s a little hard to look in the mirror and see a person that we don’t recognise. We get bigger, We lose weight, We stretch, We wobble, We jiggle and our boobs look like that of an 80 year old woman. We find ourselves looking at the likes of Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé: these women who have given birth yet look like some sort of Greek goddess statue. The world around us doesn’t show the bodies of those who haven’t ‘bounced back’. So it’s hard to look at that reflection and see it as beautiful, especially if we compare it to the body we had pre babies.
My body does NOT look like what I expected of myself at the age of 24. To be honest I look like a dropped lasagne. I don’t have the body of a page 3 model and most people think I shouldn’t openly share this body online. But as a mom who sees only sees the same three people a day, two of them are under the age of three, getting a compliment off a stranger online is kinda’ nice.
To my parents dismay I am often seen in my lingerie on the internet. But although I am not completely in love with my post baby body, I believe it is important. It’s rare for me to see image of women like myself on the internet: something that as a young first time mom made me hate myself. It was hard to believe that anyone else looked the same or had the same experiences as I. Although everyone says that ‘stretch marks are ugly’ or ‘they tell the beautiful story of your baby’: It is hard not to see them as ugly.
So think about how you look at these women in the public eye. Do you look at them and think they are beautiful or ugly? Now think about how you think about yourself?
I am by no means the epitome of self-love. I have struggled with ED, depression, anxiety and postnatal depression. I am basically a mess. But one thing I can control is how I feel about myself. I can control what hurts me and what controls my happiness. If @Steve435 from Texas thinks my big thighs are ugly, what should I care?
My body has gone through a lot over the years. I’ve never really felt comfortable in my own skin, always comparing my weight and my looks to those around me. I always thought that happiness came from being a size 8 and having B cup boobs. In University I had an eating disorder that saw me balloon from a size 12 to a size 18 and back again within a few short months. Little did I know that in order to love myself I had to embrace what I already had rather than changing it.
So, as easy as I write it, I decided to love myself. It seems silly and unachievable. But I just sat there and said to myself. Just love yourself. Stop taunting yourself, bullying yourself. You wouldn’t treat someone else like this so why would you do this to yourself? The thing that gives you life: gave you two amazing children.
EASY STEPS TO TAKE
Taking More Photos of Yourself
Sounds silly, but this is something I stopped doing for a really long time unless it was controlled and edited by myself. I was petrified of the thought of looking fat or unpolished. During my pregnancy with Rupert I avoided the camera: being pregnant made me look massive (obviously) but I couldn’t bare seeing images of myself looking ‘big’. I have a few images from my baby shower because I was forced into them. So sad that I don’t have many images from that amazing time in my life.
I am making a huge effort to take more images of myself, not just for the gram either. Photos with loved ones and everyday moments. Focusing less on how I look and taking the time to appreciate the captured love.
Be happy and take fun photos of yourself. You don’t have to post them anywhere. Just be in love with yourself.
Take Better Care Of Yourself
At my darkest times of hating my own body, I was not only harming myself by binging and purging but I let the little things go. Things like getting my hair done, doing daily skincare, drinking water and taking time to slow down and enjoy the things I love. I was being too harsh on myself and making things worse. I know that simple things like a pamper can make me not only feel better about myself but improves my mental health. Trust being a mom of two very young boys means sometimes I don’t have time to care for myself but I find every second I can to do the things that make me happy.
Take Time To Ask For Help
I always feel like I have to do everything myself and asking help is the equivalent to failing. Being a mom is hard but I have learnt that I am not wrong or bad to ask for help. If anything it makes me a better person and parent.
I was someone before becoming a parent and asking for help allows that person to still be important.
Dressing The Way You Want, Not How Society Wants
For years I have hidden behind huge tops, jeans and jumpers because that is what is expected of me. I have always wanted to wear skirts, crop tops and dresses but I didn’t think I could unless I was skinny. But why should I stop myself dressing the way I want? If I am comfortable and happy what does it matter.
Surround yourself With Empowering Figures
I guess I have myself to blame for a lot of my issues. I have always followed the skinny bloggers, saw myself as someone less than them. Watching them and dreaming of when I could be like them: Holding myself back and purposely making myself feel bad. As I expressed in the into I had started to surround my every day life with positive influences. Following those who are promoting self love no matter who you are, rubs off on you and you end up loving yourself because you love them.
People like Francesca Perks have taught me to love myself and my skin regardless on the size number on my clothing. Wearing what I want to wear without fear of society, be happy with everything I have. Yes, I have stretch marks and cellulite: but why do these need to be a bad thing? Also she is hella sexy. Lingerie and nudes are beautiful regardless of your size.
Stephanie Yeboah, is one of the most humble and kind people you will find within the social world. She has proven that hard work and kindness will help you to be the best and most successful person.
I have actively started surrounding myself with those promoting being a good person, being inclusive and being your authentic self.
Reminding Myself of Accomplishments
I am an educated, beautiful and smart woman with a degree in Journalism, two beautiful children and a wonderful home. A blog I am proud of and a talent that has given my hobby of creating content into a job that provides. Follow hashtags like #selfloveclub and #bodyconfidence etc that will bring a lot of positivity to your feed.
Go through your social media and unfollow or mute any accounts that doesn’t make you happy. It isn’t rude to unfollow someone if they are effecting your happiness, it just means their content isn’t for you but may be for someone else. Then follow a bunch of accounts that make you happy.
We live a lot of our lives online so it should be a happy place to be.
As a society we are told it is wrong to think of ourselves as beautiful. As women we are often called narcissistic for thinking of ourselves as amazing or wonderful. But we are? Every woman is! Being a mom is hard and we should be praised for what we achieve without being seen in a bad light.
If someone compliments you, the natural reaction is to say ‘oh no I look horrible’. Why? Just think about that for a second.
We are also deemed to believe that taking a break or taking a day off makes us lazy or bad parents. We are human and sometimes we need that little moment to breathe. As long as you are looking after yourself, you are looking after your kids. Your children don’t want an unhappy burnt out mom all the time. The washing up can wait, putting the clothes away can wait. And yes, sometimes fish fingers and chips is a great dinner.
Body Confidence comes from you. No-one else. No diet can give you that, No number in your clothes can do that. Think, honestly, about yourself. Is being skinnier going to take away all your unhappiness? Is having smoother skin, longer hair, tanned skin, tighter stomach, longer nails going to make you love yourself completely? Probably not. These things may help a little but they won’t get rid of any self hate. We are programmed to hate ourselves. It takes a lot of unroot that but it is worth it.
As a mother I don’t want this pattern of self hate to continue. I don’t want my children growing up thinking mommy hates herself and it is normal to pick away at yourself every day for the way you were made. This can stop with us if we try.
So say this, I honestly want you to promise me to say this out loud to yourself every day. ‘I Love You’.
There are far too many things going on in this world right now to be worrying about, adding crap body image on to that is just not needed.
Things I say to myself everyday:
‘I Love You’
‘You Look Pretty Today’
‘You’re an amazing Mum’
‘You’re doing your best’
What I am trying to say with all this is, give yourself a break. You are beautiful, you are strong and when the end of your life comes around you will remember the happy moments: not the diets or self hate. So make more of those happy moments and less of those bad thoughts. Flaunt that body like no-one is watching. Because I guarantee the ones who love you won’t see the bad you see in yourself so what’s the point in it?
———-Zoe Sugg’s IGTV series on Body Image is an amazing video filled with the most amazing women, this video honestly changed the way I saw about my body. It is very much worth a watch for those wanting some love from within. ————-
GUEST POST WRITTEN BY LEAH HIGGINS