The “F” word … fat. It’s an awful word and one I’ve struggled with for the past few years. I am not extremely overweight but my body is just not what it used to be. This is something that I struggle with daily. For the sake of my children, I’ve learned to embrace and accept my curves but it’s not always easy.
When I found out that I was pregnant with baby #3, I had just started working out to shed the last 10 pounds from baby #2. Fast forward a year, and here I sit with 30 pounds to drop instead of 10. While I would love for the weight to just disappear, I struggle with making major lifestyle changes without sending the message to my daughters that I am not already beautiful or good enough.
I want to promote a positive body image to my girls. I want them to be healthy and not deprive themselves in the name of vanity. How can I possibly do that if I don’t practice what I preach? We talk openly about making healthy food choices. We talk about exercising to stay fit and strong. But some days, a girl just wants a snoball or some ice cream. Am I going to say, “No. It may make you fat.” Or, “No. We are doing a Whole 30 right now so sugar is out.” I will do none of those things because A) snoballs are so good B) I don’t want to teach my children that depriving themselves of certain foods is “healthy” and C) a life without treats is just not a life worth living in my book.
I get the idea behind the saying, “Don’t reward yourself with food. You are not a dog.” But after the 2 year old has a successful potty day and the 5 year old has been a great big sister and helped out with the infant and mom is happy because she survived keeping 3 tiny humans alive (which is no small feat), why not celebrate with something indulgent? Of course, we don’t allow excessive junk food on any random day, and we make an effort to promote fruits and vegetables. I also want my children to understand the joy of food and not view food as “the enemy.”
A 2003 study found that 5- to 8-year-old children’s perception of their mothers’ body dissatisfaction predicted their own body dissatisfaction. Reading that statistic just makes me shudder. This new reality that young children are even aware of body image is the precise reason why we don’t use the “F” word in our house. It also makes me really think about what I say around my kids. The other day we were all sitting on the couch hanging out. My daughter lifted up my shirt and started to poke my stomach. Her words were something like, “Mama you are squishy!! Why is your belly so squishy?” I explained to her that my belly grew 3 babies, that it took a long time to grow the babies, and it takes a long time for your belly to get back to where it was before. But she will probably never know the before, the time in history when I was 100 pounds and still found fault with how “big” I was. And I am okay with that. I want my daughters to know that strong is beautiful. That no matter what your shape or size, it’s about the person you are from within that matters.
I may no longer be 100 pounds, but my previous, skinnier self sure as heck couldn’t carry a baby and five grocery bags while getting two little ones to follow because we all know that it has to be done in one trip. And my previous skinny self couldn’t wear a baby while taking two kids to the bathroom while grocery shopping alone. And my former body didn’t grow and nourish three healthy children. If accepting and loving my new “squishy” body is what it takes to show my girls that being healthy doesn’t mean being skinny, I’ll do it. If accepting my new body shows my boy that women come in all shapes, challenge accepted!
I may have had more clothing options, but I wouldn’t trade my former skinny for my current strong.