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Body Image after Baby

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Where did the confidence in our body image go?

The closet is staring at me and I am staring back. We have been standing like this for a few minutes now.  The closet is passive and silent and I am feeling the anger in my blood rise. I think the closet mocks me. “None of my contents will fit you the way you want them to” I think I hear it say. I hastily grab my oldest pair of jeans and an oversize t-shirt and throw them on. Sure this “outfit” if you can even call it that, is socially acceptable, at least I will have something on my body when I leave the house, but it isn’t cute let alone fashionable and in the matter of 5 minutes I have told myself things that I wish I hadn’t. The chorus of  “I’m not fill-in-the-blank enough” has started my day and while I love the precious bundles that will crawl all over me in these pieces of clothes I call a wardrobe I don’t feel beautiful and I am certainly not confident. I sometimes wish I could have gotten them without the changes in my body that came with it.

This might be an extreme example of your morning routine, but I am going to venture to guess that we have all been there at some point. Frustrated that our bodies are different now that we are Moms. Sure, we may have lost the baby weight but our hips are wider (or so it seems) and nursing tanks instead of lace camisoles now prop up other areas that were once gloriously firm. Where did the confidence in our body image go? 

Somehow with the sleepless nights and long days an image confidence was lost and women everywhere are struggling to get back into their pre- baby- self. You may be thinking, “I don’t have a problem, I just know what I used to look like and I need to get back there before I really feel like myself again.” I get that, I really do. I had two babies in 23 months and thought I would never get out of nursing tops and elastic waistbands. I used to dream about buttoning my jeans and wearing a belt! I’m serious. But what I am also serious about is the unhealthy attitude and stigma that comes with rapid weight loss and unrealistic expectations that lead you to believe that wearing your skinny jeans out of the hospital is normal. It is not.

Look, getting pregnant means gaining weight, it just comes with the territory. And it is good! That weight gain, in a healthy range, (different for every woman and your doctor can tell you what is appropriate for you) feeds your baby. It is the life-giving nutrition that your growing child needs. It supplies you with extra energy so you can pump blood throughout your body and your child’s. This weight gain keeps your baby alive before it is even born. After your baby is born your extra fat stores help your body produce milk for your child to eat from you!  Rapid weight loss will affect your milk supply and might possibly cause you to be unable to nurse. Whether you choose to do so is totally up to you, but just that fact that you could feed your child based on the fact that the extra weight helped produce that nutrition is pretty amazing. Eventually though what comes on must come off. Some say that it took you 9 months to gain the weight it will take you about 9 months to lose it. That is a fine parameter, but I would caution you to live in freedom. If it happens earlier, great!  If it takes a little longer, that is fine too.

When you start measuring your worth by the size of your jeans then we are at the beginning of a problem. When you start skipping meals and replacing balanced nutrition with shakes and powders it will only harm you in the end.  If you think “lunch” means a diet soda and some crackers you are wrong. When you start to believe that a choice like that is good and healthy then you have bought into the lie of the culture and you are headed down a path that is easy to go down but unimaginably hard to come out of.  Not to mention you will have a very hard time modeling healthy eating and body image to the young children that live in your home. The slippery slope happens slowly, one lie after another telling yourself that you will only do it until you lose the weight or can wear a bikini or whatever but then before you know it you are compelled by your weight and your self worth and body image is driven by disorder not health.

Which brings me back to the closet.  It doesn’t have to be your enemy.  You just have to be ready for the battle when you approach.  Whether your battle is every day or only every once in a while remind yourself of these things as you get dressed in the morning:

  1. Your body has accomplished a miracle in carrying a child to term and the subsequent delivery.  That is something to smile about.
  2. It doesn’t matter what size the clothes are, if you feel confident in them you will naturally radiate beauty because you feel it.
  3. Your worth does not come from outward appearance.  It comes from your inner being, who the God of the Universe created you to be and the beauty of your soul is far more precious than a pair of skinny jeans and a fitted shirt.

Get Ready Closet, I am coming for you! Tomorrow is a brand new day!

Written by Tracy Carson 

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