My daughter turned four last month and I feel like this is only the second time in her life that I’ve been happy with my body. The last time was right before I got pregnant with my second child. I was working out daily and dieting, and I felt and looked GOOD. But then I had my second baby, and the weight packed on quickly. I remember seeing a picture from the day she was born and I felt so embarrassed. Why did I look so puffy? I had worked out during my pregnancy! Why couldn’t I look like one of those perfect Instagram moms after giving birth!?
Working out wasn’t easy to work into my routine as some people had said. I felt guilty when I chose to sleep instead of exercise. I craved all the sweets when I was nursing my baby. Then I’d get on Instagram and see women who are literally paid to look good and feel even worse about myself.
There wasn’t one big defining moment that changed how I felt. Little by little I did things to change my mindset. I unfollowed people on social media who made me feel bad about myself. I began to follow body positive profiles full of quotes reminding myself that I am so much more than my physical appearance. I began exercising when I wanted to, not because I wanted to make myself smaller. I found ways to move that made me happy, instead of pushing through thirty minutes of misery. I quit cutting out whole groups of food because I was afraid they’d make me fatter. I learned to listen to my body and enjoy my meals without guilt.
This won’t work for everyone. Some of us get our joy out of running for miles every day, or from a strict exercise and diet regimen, and that is more than okay! All I am saying is find a way to love your body that works for you!! Don’t do things because you think you have to or you feel like you have to be a certain size to be happy.
I am making these changes because I don’t want my girls to grow up in a world where they think their bodies matter more than anything else. Have you noticed that eating disorders are rampant? Turn on a show or a movie and the most appealing women in them are usually no more than a size 4. Many of the women considered most beautiful in our society have had surgeries or fillers to look that way. (And that is fine, as long as we recognize it and realize that we are never going to look that way unless we get those surgeries too.)
I don’t want my girls to base their worth on their bodies. I don’t want the people I love who have fuller figures to believe they are less than someone who is smaller than them. WE DO NOT EXIST TO MAKE OURSELVES SMALLER. YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU WEIGH.