Something remarkable happened to me recently.
I’m three months postpartum after having my second baby, and I have all the usual battle scars of bringing life into this world — stretch marks on my thighs, a squishy pockmarked tummy, and boobs that sit somewhere between pornstar and deflated balloons, depending on the time of day. Yet, for the first time in my life, I put on a purple ribbed bodysuit with high-waisted jeans, went out to dinner with friends, and proudly flaunted every little curve and bulge it accentuated.
Why? Because now, in its most imperfect form, I’m more comfortable with my body than ever before. It’s like I’ve realized a new kind of sexy. It’s a mom bod kind of sexy. And it’s powerful.
To be clear, I haven’t always felt this way.
My first daughter was one of those fat babies with rolls on her rolls. As she grew, I distinctly remember friends commenting on her “delicious little thunder thighs” and thinking...man, I wish people would celebrate my post-baby thunder thighs like that. But they didn’t, and I didn’t, either. I just couldn’t wait to get back into shape — the shape I knew. And giving up my breasts for the purpose of keeping another human being alive, I felt like my body wasn’t my own. It was my baby’s. It was for utility.
Even before I had babies, I never had the most positive body image. Even though I’ve always been petite and never struggled to manage my weight, like most women I know, I’ve found things to criticize about myself. Comparing it with the airbrushed models in magazines or celebrities on tv, I was self conscious of my broad shoulders, narrow hips, and flat butt. I always felt too busty for my size and wished my torso were just a little bit longer.
Still, I’ve always been athletic and had good muscle tone. I never really had to worry about cellulite, saggy skin, jiggly thighs or the rising and falling tide of my milk-filled breasts — that’s all new. And it’s all due to growing a baby.
I’m now in a body I don’t recognize at all. It’s not the body that took me years of getting over teen angst to accept. It’s a new body with untoned angles, wider hips and budly middle. A lot of the advice out there says to be proud of what you have to show for this new body. The stretch marks and saggy boobs are a testament to the beautiful baby or toddler bouncing on your lap. All true. And sure, it’s nice to focus on the beauty you’ve created rather than the beauty you’ve lost. But what about simply accepting a new form of beauty?
There’s something absolutely empowering about embracing a post-baby body. It’s like you’re telling the world that you’ve done something remarkable and this is what you have to show for it. It’s kind of perfect in it’s imperfect ways. It has its own look.
Thinking of it this way have helped me appreciate my body more because I no longer care about what other people think of it. I am this way for a reason — a really good reason.
You know what else helped? Shopping. I realized that all I needed to feel good in this new look as opposed to mourning my old one was few nice and well-fitting pieces that made me feel good again. As another mother put it, sometimes you just have to indulge your buldge.
I found it’s important to invest in clothes I love to wear. Well-fitting clothes that complement my new life and enhance my new silhouette did wonders for my mood and self esteem. A good pair of high-waisted jeans firmed up that tummy while also showing the world it exists. A tight top made with good material accentuated my new goods.
So, go shopping. Get out. Get exercize. Have a cookie — guilt free. This is your new look.
Admittedly, I’m not happy with my new mom bod all the time. While I feel pretty confident in a one-piece swimsuit, there’s no way I’ll ever go near a bikini again. I’m constantly doing squats to firm my small, flat butt right back up. And there’s some days I just don’t buy my own message at all. Those are the days when nothing seems to fit right, and I feel defeated. Then, I take a shower, do my hair and suddenly that little spark of confidence starts to emerge again.
Like becomeing a mother, learning to love your post-baby body takes patience — only it’s patience with yourself.
My poochy belly? It’s kind of cute. My flat butt? It’s still enough to squeeze. My massive boobs? They’re making milk, people. Milk! How incredibly weird is that? Oh, and they’re also just boobs. Big ones. I want to celebrate this body. I want my daughters to see what a normal body looks like, and what a confident woman looks like in it.
This new body of mine… it’s something else. It’s something beautiful. It’s reminding me everyday that I’m not just a mother. I am still a woman with a lot of my life to live. And I’m sexy, dammit.