Women have body issues. It's just a fact. Every single one of us has something: that hair that appears on our chin, never noticed until it's 3 inches long, dark and disturbingly pubic in nature; the cellulite that formed on our thighs before we could legally drink; the weight we carry in our asses or our bellies or our thighs or our tits, always wishing we were carrying it in any other spot. Tall, thin, gorgeous women feel gangly and their limbs unwieldy (or so I'm told). Short women feel dumpy, frumpy and often lumpy. And regardless of how much they pay for that perfect, sassy haircut that everyone loves, every woman on earth has issues with their hair. I'm sure of it.
I am not immune. I definitely have my issues. My mother and (ex)stepfather found it amusing at 14 to talk about how big my ass was. "You could show movies on that thing!" It wasn't cruel - you don't make it in our family without withstanding merciless teasing - but I don't think they realized how formative those years are, how delicate self-esteem is at that age, and so I still, at more than twice that age, feel self conscious about my bottom. Thank god my husband is an ass man.
But all things considered I have a fairly healthy bodily self-image. I gained more than 20 pounds between meeting my husband and marrying him. I didn't love the weight, but I did love eating and laziness and therefore was never driven to do anything about the growing waistline and never resisted the increase in pants size. I have on numerous occasions gone from nipple-obscuring-length hair to a Winonna-esque pixie with one snip of the scissors. Just 2 weeks after losing my twins I walked into a hairdresser I'd never seen and told him to give me a drastic change - whatever he wanted, just something different. Hair grows back, this I know, and I treat it as such. I've watched my boobs go from B-cups to Cs and enjoyed the change, and was equally unfazed when those Cs shriveled to As, simply taking up the banner of small chested women everywhere. My body is simply that: a body. It isn't me and I'm not it.
That is, apparently, until that body no longer belonged to just me. Now that I'm being inhabited by another being (eek!) I'm finding that changes I expected to embrace are sometimes difficult to take. I love my belly. I embrace my belly. Even when the baby was the size of a poppy seed, but my abdomen was so bloated I looked like a stereotypical Ethiopian child, I loved my belly. But the first time I glanced in the mirror and noticed that my pert, perky boobs were suddenly looking sad and forlorn - literally downcast - I felt a surprising sting. I had known that motherhood would bring changes and that the breasts I'd recognized would be lost forever, but I expected those changes to happen while breastfeeding or after weaning. I didn't know that staring at my tits at 12w I would be shocked by how matronly they'd become. And it's an image I still haven't adjusted to.
I'm not an idiot - I knew the numbers on the scale would grow, that my baby wasn't healthy if they didn't. But I didn't expect to flinch when seeing that growth flashing obnoxiously on the scale below me. Had I known this I would've given my OB a fully-clothed, shoe-wearing, post-pasta-eating pre-pregnancy weight by which she could track my gains. Never would I have provided her with my at-home weight, which has always been taken first thing in the morning, after peeing, before eating, butt-ass naked. Because when I hear her say I've gained X pounds I have to restrain myself from pointing out that my shoes must account for at least 3 of those.
And when my mother told me, at 17w, that I was starting to waddle? Well, I don't care how steely your self-esteem, no one gets past the word "waddle" without cringing.
I thought I would be different; I thought I was an earth-mother. I expected to embrace bodily changes like the changing of the season. I thought I'd be proud of pregnancy acne and feel womanly in my spreading hips, but even I can't revel in nipples the size of dinner plates (regardless of the fact that come June they will serve as just that). I love my baby and I genuinely love being pregnant. But I've come to realize that you'd have to be a saint to love your stretch marks.
Oh god...stretch marks. I'd better learn to embrace my new reality or it's going to be a long 5 months...