Growing up I never had any issues with my body. My Mum was amazing like that. There was no overt praise about being pretty or not pretty enough. I never dieted, I ate what I wanted, I played tennis and netball, and ran around outside.
I was lucky to have gone through high school with out any body battle wounds. I never had an issue with my physical self. I just got on with life.
My parents encouraged us to camp, to hike, to use our bodies in a physical way. We set up tents, carried fire wood, canoed down rivers. I went on to work in a similar fashion. I hiked for a living, my body was a vehicle and it did it’s job well.
From there I studied outdoor education. Again, my body did as it should and I never thought anything more of it. I climbed, paddled, hiked, drank beer and ate what I wanted.
When we went to Hawaii, a couple of years ago, I sat on the baggage scales while we were waiting to be checked in. I weighed more than I ever had before, but I didn’t mind, I went to Hawaii, enjoyed myself, drank all the cocktails and when I came home I signed up for the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation. Within 4 weeks, I was back to the happier and healthier version that I remembered.
Just under 2 and a half years ago my beautiful, vibrant, spirited son was born. I wasn’t happy with my body but like everyone else, I knew I’d eventually ‘bounce back’, I’d naturally loose that ‘baby weight’ and get on with my life.
When Elliot was 8 weeks old I was photographed for the 365 Day Project, a flip book/calendar filled with women celebrating the physical changes of pregnancy and childbirth to reduce the stigma of body image and mental illness. I thought this would help me get more comfortable with my new skin. I thought if I could see a photo of my new body then I would see how awesome it was.
Instead I saw the soft round tummy, the rolls under my bra, the stretch marks and the round cheeks. The words accompanying my photo:
The beauty of the body is not measured by the perkiness of its breasts, the washboard stomach, or the perfectly manicured nails and blow waved hair, but the stories it tells. My body tells stories of years of adventure, cuts, scars and dints, it’s my home and for 9 months it also housed my beautiful son. Its hips and stomach tell takes of growing a child, its breasts chronicle nourishing life and the caesarean scar scream “I fought for you!”
So no matter how much I argue with it, at the end of the day I need to remember all that we’ve been through together and treat it like my home. And home is where you’re supposed to feel the safest and home is where love and respect happens and home is where you’re suppose to feel best about yourself.
I need to embrace my home, and embrace the new stories to add to my tales of adventure.
I need to embrace my new body
Are true and honest but it feels like a much braver person than myself wrote them.
Recently, I have been battling with myself for the first time. For the first time I am not happy with this vehicle. I’m looking at myself as an ornament. I’ve joined a gym and I’ve stopped eating all the desserts. I’m weighing myself.
And tonight I had the wake up call I needed.
Tonight I saw Embrace the social impact documentary by Taryn Brumfitt. I was choked up from the opening credits, when she asked beautiful women in the street to describe themselves with three words and they used the word disgusting. I was in tears when she gave hugs to the gorgeous trans women she did a photoshoot with and I was in tears when she narrated a letter to her daughter.
My body is beautiful (and I just got choked up writing that, but they say fake it until you make it). It has hiked a millions kilometres, it has built a house, it has climbed mountains and it has grown and birthed a baby. I may not be 100% happy with the way it looks but that shouldn’t be driving me to go to the gym and not eat cake. I should be going to the gym because it makes me feel great. I should be saying no to (some) cake because it’ll make the next piece all the sweeter.
I think every women should see this movie, I think every man should see this movie. I think it should be compulsory in high schools. I think Taryn has done a fantastic job of answering and covering a really tough topic. And as I watched the film I nodded the whole way through, I was shocked, I laughed, I cried (oh did I cry) but more than that, I felt relieved. I am me. This is my body and it’s the only one I have, so I should be a little bit nicer to it.
My three words are strong, beautiful and glowing. What are yours?