It’s easy to describe to someone the things that you hate about your body. It’s easy to pinch at your skin, pull at your clothes, scowl at your reflection and slump your body with distaste.
It’s easy to try on a pair of jeans and cry with frustration when you can’t get the buttons to meet. Or to compare your body with those bodies that you see splashed across the covers of magazines. It’s easy to cover up because you feel ashamed, to hide parts of your body because you think ‘it’s not good enough’, ‘others will look, others will judge.’
What’s not easy is to tell the world the things that you love about your body.
I’ve wanted to write about my struggles with my body image for some time now – but I felt unsure of the angle I wanted to take. On the one hand I wanted to support the body love movement that encourages diversity of shape and size. On the other hand, I didn’t want to celebrate unhealthiness. And it’s important for me to explain that right now, while I’m trying to love and accept my body for what it is – a body that carried two children and is not the same size it once used to be – I’m also aware of the fact that my current size is not healthy. But it is on the way towards a fitter, healthier size.
My doctor recently diagnosed me with insulin resistance – a condition that can be controlled with healthy eating and regular exercise; but if ignored, could lead to diabetes down the track. And that’s why I do need to make a change. Therefore the love for my body that I’m about to describe to you below comes with a caveat, a caveat that states that I am working towards a fitter, happier, stronger, brighter me. I’m just trying to love myself along the way.
It was my psychologist’s idea. I told her that while I have many hang-ups about my own body, I’d been trying as much as possible to ensure I instil a sense of self love and body confidence in my children about their own bodies. I’ve always been adamant that I will not pass my own issues and insecurities onto them. I explained how I often asked my girls to tell me the things that they love about their bodies and encouraged them to realise just how strong they are, how wonderful it was to be able to run and jump and climb and skip. And yet when it came to my own body, I’ve often told my psychologist all the things that I hate, including the fact that I hate my stomach the most.
So she asked me to tell her what it was that I loved about my stomach. I couldn’t really answer. She had another suggestion. Recently I’ve been writing sales copy for real estate, “Write a real estate ad for your stomach,” she instructed me. “You’ve written ads for every type of house there is. Apply that to your own body.” I started to smile, I could already see the description forming in my mind. Suddenly I could remove myself from my body. Step outside and see it through new eyes, see it in a positive light while still being completely honest with myself.
So here it is, a real estate ad for my belly:
FAMILY COMFORT WITH PRIVACY AND CHARACTER
Peacefully positioned beneath two generously proportioned and well rounded breasts is this charming, 1980s belly. It features a symmetrically centred inward facing belly button, smoothly curving outer edges and a soft and pliable middle, ideal as a comfy pillow for a small child to rest their head while you read them a bed-time story.
A strong set of abs provide the perfect base for this much loved stomach, with the owner currently completing extensive renovations including taking up a gym membership and completing several Pilates, pump and circuit classes between four and six times a week in order to ensure the longevity of its health and strength.
A previous home to two little girls, who each reluctantly vacated the premises when they outgrew the cosy interiors, it’s still capable of stretching out to accommodate approximately 5-7 pounds worth of baby as required.
Filled with history and character, highlights are the faint silvery lines, which represent the badges of honour this stomach was awarded with each pregnancy, while an upper level hernia scar and a lower level caesarean scar each provide excellent conversation starters.
Combining the ability to do multiple crunches and sit ups with the capacity for consuming a wide variety of chocolate based desserts as required, this delightfully intimate stomach is full of promise as it strives to redefine the preconceived ideals of body image and body love, while providing a healthy, achievable and realistic role model for future generations.
And here’s the nicest part of this experiment: I’m starting to feel quite fond of my stomach now.