When I look in the mirror I’m not sure I recognize the woman looking back at me.
Her body is marked by the keepsakes of motherhood. Skin that once stretched taut over a belly full of life is now soft and holds a tracery of stretch marks. Hips that were full with the promise of delivery have kept their fullness. Breasts that were filled with sweet milk for babies will soon drape gently down. This body will always hold remembrances of the time it spent growing with children.
It is my choice how I see those remembrances. Will I see the marks left behind as a map of my journey to motherhood? Or will I see them as scars that diminish my body’s value? I get to choose whether the mirror show me a stranger, or a beloved friend.
I have chosen to embrace the woman in the mirror and love my body’s transformation. Here are ten reasons why you should too:
Your body made a person. You brought a unique soul, created by God, into this world. That, my friends, is nothing short of amazing.
2. You are your child’s first, and most influential teacher.
Children are intuitive. They are constantly learning about their place in the world by watching their most important teacher – you! It is very likely your little one will adopt many of your opinions, attitudes, and values so you need to examine what kind of message you are sending to your child (especially your daughter) about body image.
As her first teacher you play a big role in how your daughter sees herself. Did you ever listen to your own mother diss her figure, and then have someone tell you how much you look alike? Ouch. Talk about mixed messages. Let’s celebrate our daughter’s uniqueness, and if she looks like you then encourage her to embrace it with joy!
Likewise, our sons need to see us treasuring the bodies we are given so they can learn to value real human beauty. We are short-changing our sons (and their future brides!) by comparing ourselves to an impossible ideal. We need to help our children build a strong defense against the messages that peers, society, and the media will tell them about their body.
If you want them to love their bodies, they need to see you loving yours.
3. You. Are. Unique.
You are uniquely you, and that is a good thing. Have you thought about how dull this world would be if we all looked the same? Sure we might wish it in passing, but as a reality? No. So why jump on the comparison train?
You would never apply that mentality to your children. You don’t want your child to pop out of a cookie cutter mold. Instead you celebrate your baby’s uniqueness. We treasure each birth mark, freckle, mole, webbed toe, outie-button, and dimple. Do you realize those things could be considered imperfections? As mother’s we do more than accept those “flaws”, we embrace them as part of what makes our child special. Special! Not flawed, but a one-of-a-kind uniquely gorgeous snowflake of our very own.
That is how we should see ourselves too. Whether the features that mark our body are by birth or circumstance – we need to love them as we do our child’s. Because friend, you are someone’s child too.
The Father who knit you together in your mother’s womb loves you just as you are, and it hurts his heart to see you in pain. It hurts him just as it would hurt you to hear own your daughter call herself ugly and broken. You are not broken. You are a cherished daughter of the King and you should treat yourself with compassion.
4. Confidence is magnetic (and incredibly sexy)!
A woman who carries her body with confidence is magnetic. Others will be drawn to you and want to emulate your self-confidence, and your husband will find it captivating. There is nothing more attractive than a woman who is comfortable in her own skin. Conversely, a self-deprecating attitude can drive your partner and your friends away. When you refuse to accept positive attention for your appearance (especially from your husband), or make negative comments it makes others uncomfortable. It also reinforces poor attitudes about your body.
Think of your body as a treasured possession. If you value something highly you will take good care of it. Feeling good about yourself will help you eat well, be active, and engage with the world.
On the flip side poor body image can lead to anxiety, depression, shame, making poor choices about food and exercise (to either extreme), risking your physical health, being unable to care for yourself or others, or distancing yourself from those you love. Neither you nor your body deserve that.
Your body is a precious gift.
Give yourself permission to have a positive body image and pursue a healthier lifestyle, but don’t let your future goals stop you from appreciating the remarkable body you have now.
6. You are going to miss out on life.
Listen ladies, your body is changing every moment of every day, and despising your body because it will never be nineteen again will bring you nothing but frustration. Your past is past. Embrace yourself as you are now and don’t waste another moment of your day dwelling on negativity.
And don’t miss out on another experience because you don’t like the way you look! Go play with your kids in the pool. Take that beach vacation. Smile for that picture. Let your husband see you coming out of the shower, and make love with the lights on! Ladies, let your life be rich.
7. Because the perfect postpartum baby body is a work of fiction.
Friends, let’s be real for a second. You know the celebrity on the cover of XYZ magazine who just had her baby and looks better than ever three months later? Yeah, that’s a work of fiction. Sure she might be in amazing shape with the help of her trainer, in-home gym, and personal chef, but her picture has still been photo shopped to perfection. Why hold ourselves to a standard that is impossible to achieve?
It’s okay to look like a real woman. That celebrity is a real woman too, and I guarantee she has her own insecurities to deal with. Don’t borrow trouble by comparing yourself to others, whether is it a celebrity on the cover of a magazine or your very own BFF. No one wins that game.
8. Your “flaws” are not that noticeable.
We’re all guilty of it. We look in the mirror and we zero in on all the things we don’t like. Forget your dazzling eyes, your slender waist… look at that booty! Those stretch marks! That cellulite! Girl, please. I’m not going to say those things are invisible, but they are not as noticeable as you think. And they’re certainly not as important!
By now most of us have seen the Dove Real Beauty Campaign Video “Sketches”. The video showcases women describing their features to a forensic sketch artist who cannot see them. Subsequently a stranger who met them the day before gives their own description based on memory. The artist then creates a drawing based solely on each description. The resulting portraits are staggeringly different, and many of the ladies are very emotional when they realize how differently others see them.
Strive to align your perception with reality and make sure you’re looking at the whole picture. Don’t sell yourself short by only focusing only on your perceived flaws.
9. Because motherhood changes you.
So back to how your body did an amazing thing. Do you realize that the hormones that allowed you to carry and birth that baby actually rewired your brain? Your brain chemistry is literally different as a result of becoming a mom. And that’s not all.
Pregnancy started a chain of events to create a fully customized body perfect for growing, birthing, and nurturing that lovely little baby you brought into the world. Your blood volume increased, your heart worked harder, ligaments stretched, your breasts changed to produce milk, your body stored extra fat to provide for your child… you get the picture. Motherhood dramatically changed your body, and your life.
If you can’t recall what it was like to be “you” before mom was added to your identity, you’re not alone. Let’s be gracious to ourselves. We worked hard to make that baby, and now we’re working hard to mother that baby. Rejoice in the amazing body you were given and all the things it has done.
10. Because loving yourself the way you are is brave.
Disliking is easy. Embracing yourself for who you are and what you look like today – now that, my friends, is tough. And it is your choice to make every day. A choice to be positive. A choice to push away negative self-talk. A choice to love all of yourself (even the wobbly bits with tiger stripes)! You are enough, just the way you are.
And choosing to see your body as unique, purposeful, and yes, even beautiful – that is brave.
Has the way you see your body changed since you’ve become a mom? Share with me in the comments below!