I recently wrote an article called Riding the Weight Wave acknowledging that weight fluctuations are normal – and giving everyone a likely too detailed timeline of my sizes and weights over the last decade. I got a few comments asking HOW I stay kind to myself. I am in no way an expert when it comes to being body positive, I still struggle and I’m still learning, but since you asked, I’ll share the ways I stay kind to myself when it comes to body image.
1. Media Fasting
I don’t watch television. I avoid commercials and advertising. I don’t go shopping at the mall. I don’t look at fashion magazines. When I do stream a show or movie, I select titles with characters who are protagonists because of their skill, smarts, or wit. I attempt to avoid anything that perpetuates unrealistic expectations for bodies (male or female).
2. I Am More Than My Appearance
I try to remind myself, on an almost daily basis, of all the things I offer the world – my love, my empathy, my voice, my passion, my intelligence, my creativity, my humor, my patience, my playfulness, my companionship. The list could go on and on. I am so much more than my appearance and I am valuable for so many other reasons.
3. Supportive Sisters and Partners and Friends
I am fortunate that I have a very supportive partner, sister, and friends who build me up and make me feel beautiful. When I doubt myself, I hear their voices telling me I’m a babe and a goddess.
4. Baby, I’m a Hedonist
he·don·ist, ˈhēdənəst,ˈhedənəst (noun) a person who believes that the pursuit of pleasure is the most important thing in life; a pleasure-seeker.
I love food, I love wine. I accept that I’d rather enjoy these things than be hard on myself all the time.
5. Should is a Judging Word
Should is a judging word. There’s some second hand therapy from me to you. When I have a critical thought, it almost always involves the word should. Anytime I hear myself using a should phrase, against myself or others, I stop, and remind myself to be compassionate.
6. “I’ve Got a Perfect Body but Sometimes I Forget”
I’m a big Regina Spektor fan, in her song Folding Chair shes sings,
I’ve got a perfect body, though sometimes I forget, I’ve got a perfect body cause my eyelashes catch my sweat, Yes, they do.
For the most part, my body does what it’s supposed to do, it allows me to enjoy my life and take care of my family. I am very fortunate to have my health, and if I’m 15 pounds overweight, so what? Furthermore, I live with a person (Dr. Husband) who constantly sees the very worst health issues, random injuries, and saddest illnesses – harsh reminders to be grateful for my body as it is.
7. If You Compare Yourself to Others…
Fifteen years ago, I found a huge reproduction of the poem, Desiderata, at a garage sale. I hung it in my bathroom so I’m guaranteed to see it everyday. When it comes to being kind to myself, one line stands out:
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
I try my very hardest not to compare myself to others. When I see that fit, put-together mom with her seemingly perfectly recovered flat stomach in her crop top and yoga pants at drop off, I remind myself that she has a totally different set of resources than I do, and is likely facing a totally different set of challenges than me.
8. Falling In Love All Over Again
One of our OKCMB contributors pointed out that a big reason it can be hard to love our mom bods is because, post-baby, we start to feel like our bodies don’t belong to us anymore. She recognized that you have to take some time to get to know and accept the new you, then fall in love again with the body you have. Another OKCMB contributor shared that you have to accept your body on some level or you’ll never be happy. Check out this article on Getting Fit in a Looks Obsessed World.
9. Bite the Bullet and Buy Some New Clothes
Finally, a big step in being comfy in my post-baby bod was replacing my wardrobe. Sometimes you just gotta bite the bullet and buy new clothes that fit and are flattering. When my son was born we were broke. For financial reasons, I had to go slow and replace one thing at a time, but when I finally got my hands on a couple staples that fit, I felt so much better. Furthermore, an OKCMB contributor adds, “Once I quit caring about sizes, shopping became so much more enjoyable. Like c’mon…just try on the 12s, who cares. They’ll fit better and you’ll feel better.”
How do you keep the love alive for your mom bod? Share your advice with fellow moms in comments.