my floppy breasts and soft stomach and wide hips are beautiful. when i look in the mirror i am proud to own the body that i see there. my hips are wide because they carried a baby for 9 months and then pushed her out. they are beautiful because they are strong. my belly is soft because it stretched to make a home for my baby, and so that she has a comfy place to lay now. it is beautiful because it is flexible and kind. my breasts are large and sagging because they are full of milk to nourish and comfort my baby. they are beautiful because they are resourceful and generous.
for years i had what many considered an "ideal" body, but i was never happy with it. there was always something i wanted to change, erase, shrink...in my mind, beauty was about getting rid of things. i liked to think of my body as something i was sculpting, and that beauty lay in taking away everything extra or unwanted. but no matter how low my weight was or how small my clothing size or how firm my stomach, i never really felt beautiful. there was always something more i could work on, so i was never satisfied.
now i realize that beauty is about life and growth and love. my body is only as beautiful as it is generous, open, and alive. i am not a sculpture. i am a garden. the weight, and the stretch marks, and the wrinkles that are added and that will be added in time are signs of life. my body is the soil from which the rest of me springs.
my arm and shoulder and back muscles are growing bigger and stronger from carrying my daughter. teaching my baby that she is loved and supported and protected is having a physical effect. the spiritual/emotional/mental cannot be separated from the physical. i am one being. if i want to be generous of spirit i must be generous of body, because they are one. i find that the kinder and more accepting i am to my own body, the more i am able to accept others.
it is heartbreaking to me to see so many articles, books, adds, etc. about "getting your body back after baby"...as if your body was something that had been stolen. i don't feel like my body was stolen by motherhood. if anything, i recognized and embraced my body as truly mine for the first time. i want to be healthy and fit, but i don't want my old body back. i want to know when i look at myself that i am strong, and flexible, and kind, and resourceful, and generous. i want to see all the places that i have been, and the love that i have given.
before having a baby my body was firm and small. it was a girl body. but now it is a woman body. occasionally i miss some of my old clothes that i'll never fit into again, or miss looking like the girls in the magazines. but for the first time in my life, i am really happy and proud of the way i look. in pregnancy and motherhood i found an appreciation of and respect for my body that i never had before.
sometimes people ask me what i like most about being a mom. what i like most about being a mom is that i am learning to be myself. it's strange that it took someone else living in my skin for me to become comfortable in it. strange, and beautiful.