life

The Body Beautiful

I’ve become one of those women.  You know, the ones who look at pictures of themselves when they were younger – maybe early 20s – and say, “UGH.  I looked so good.”

The irony is (it always is!), at the time, I didn’t think I looked good.  Or at least, not particularly good.

Now, don’t go jumping to the conclusion that I have major body image issues.  I don’t.  I think you’d be hard pressed to find a woman out there who would say, “My body is perfect and there isn’t a single thing I would ever do to change it!”

I’ve always tried to be a person who just accepts her body.  I was always skinny (at times, too skinny, really), but when you’re young and insecure skinny doesn’t make up for a flat chest, wide hips, a short torso, and whatever other things you’ve convinced yourself are wrong with your body.  I’m the girl who bought an extra small bikini top and a large bikini bottom.  And hey, what’s wrong with that?  Absolutely nothing.

I am merely coming to grips with the natural changes that come with age and procreation.  And…. Its hard.

I got teased a fair amount about various things when I was younger, but fortunately none of it stuck enough to really mess with my self-image.  Amusingly, I graduated from school feeling more self-conscious about my big feet and long fingers than anything else.  As a teenager and young adult, I remember often making the choice not to stress too much about one or many specific shortcomings of my body.  I did pretty well.  I never loved showing too much skin but I looked good in clothes.  Really good.  Sure.

Back in my sash-wearing days.

Right before I turned 25, I did a show with a group of women whose insecurities started to rub off on me.  Don’t get me wrong – I adored them.  Several of them were older than I was and since we spent most of our time in a mirrored room in various states of undress, I can’t blame them for criticizing their own bodies.  If I were in that situation now, I KNOW I would do the same thing.  I suddenly became more aware of the numbers on the scale and the cellulite on my thighs.  This was also a few months before I was diagnosed with cancer.  Needless to say, it was the first time I started to feel the effects of aging.

I knew it was only a matter of time before I could no longer eat whatever I wanted and expect to look the same.  After my thyroid was removed, my metabolism was controlled entirely by the tiny synthroid pills I popped once a day.  I was definitely relieved when I didn’t immediately gain a ton of weight.  My body instead decided to take the “slow burn” route.  Or maybe “long con” would be a more appropriate phrase.

Sawyer, nooooooooo!!

When Tom and I first got together, I was pretty skinny.  I was on the stress diet.  You know, the one where you’re so stressed out all the time you’re never very hungry and voila!  You’re thin.  Once all the drama dust had settled and my future with Tom was secure, I put on some happy pounds.  That was good.  In the first year of our marriage, I put on about 10 more happy pounds.  Okay, happiness – I like you, but cut it out with the pounds!  And then, I got pregnant.

I gained about 30 or 35 pounds when I was pregnant.  Wanna know a secret?  I really liked my pregnant body.  I didn’t have to worry about a flat stomach!  It was okay to eat all the time!  I got to buy bras with real cup sizes!  Forget zippers, buttons, and shoelaces – here, wear this comfortable, stretchy stuff instead.  Being pregnant made me feel special.  As I walked through the city or rode the subway, I felt like I had a kind of magical protection.  I won’t lie, it was weird to step on the scale towards the end and see such a crazy number, but I didn’t really worry about it.  I had a free pass.

After the birth was a different story.  I felt utterly and completely wrecked until about 7 weeks postpartum, when I just started feeling okay.  Technically, I lost (most of) the baby weight fast.  What they don’t really tell you about is what’s left when the baby weight is gone.  Why is this squishy? Why is this wider?  What is this roll?  What is GOING ON?  I think my butt is the only thing that survived the baby apocalypse relatively unchanged.

Hurrah.

Now for what is maybe the worst part.  None of my clothes fit me anymore.  Okay, let me rephrase that.  Some of my stuff still fits me.  Socks.  Underwear.  Some tee shirts.  A perfect outfit, basically.  I’m honestly not sure if I should get rid of everything and start over or if I should try to fit into everything again.  I don’t know which option is more depressing.

This is all part of the drill, right?  You get older, your body changes.  You have babies, your body changes.  There’s just no prep course.  I think its unrealistic (and unhealthy) to expect myself to get back to my early twenties weight, but I know with some effort I could definitely look good again.  And then there’s a part of me that thinks if/when I have more babies I’ll have to start all over again!  Someone tell me that’s normal.  As Tom has said before, why can’t men and women take every other pregnancy?  Come on, guys.  Take one for the team.

I know it’s not so bad.  I try to laugh at myself.  Today I actually googled chin exercises.

It really isn’t so bad.  I’ve never been good with change.  Maybe its just difficult to accept how my new body feels after so many years of “younger body”.  I look fine.  My family and friends would say I look more than fine.  I’ll take it.

Then there are these people:

I live with two people who think that I am the greatest person in the world.  The funniest, the most beautiful, the most wonderful.  How could I forget that?

We can work on our thighs together.

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