Okay so I am a feminist. Have been for as long as I can remember. Even when I don’t remember being one or identifying myself as one, I was a feminist because of my long standing values and principles – which have remained steady for all of my adult life and even younger. Which is why, calling myself fat, albeit the truth, given the context in which I uttered them, makes me slightly ashamed of myself.
I had Baby #2 – Baby E eight weeks ago. Yipiee for me and my family!! Because Baby E is a girl, I feel all the more invested in discussions regarding body images, self-esteem, and more importantly, the discourse surrounding body shaming, and ownership of one’s body. So…I gained 34 pounds with J and 21 with E. Of course because I was still 9 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight before J, I had gained more or less the same amount of weight overall.
At 8 weeks and 3 days, I have only lost 11 pounds since E was born. That is NOT a lot of lost weight. I still have a belly that makes me look about 4 months pregnant. I don’t yet fit into all my clothes. I live my days in workout clothes, nursing bras, and loose tops that are easy to pull up or down for nursing. I am extremely proud of what my body has been able to accomplish with the two pregnancies. I feel fulfilled in more ways than I can enumerate. I love my kiddos so much that no words will ever be able to completely articulate that love so I won’t even attempt that task.
I never had any ill-health during either of my pregnancies save for some nausea during my second, not a single stretch mark on the belly, no hormonal patches, rashes, or hair loss whatsoever. I birthed two beautiful babies and they are growing amazingly well that I can only keep counting my blessings and the tremendous joy they both bring to my life. And yet…much as I tell myself how proud I am of my body for giving me my two kiddos and that the extra weight I am carrying does not matter, and even though I honestly do not have any self-esteem issues, the fact that I am carrying around all this extra weight makes me feel oddly incomplete – I am not sure how else to express what I am feeling.
The sense of incompleteness is an internal inadequacy that stems from believing that I have somehow failed myself, that I failed an inner desire to prove to myself that I am fitter than what I am, currently; that I need to be more active, energetic, healthier for my kids, for my husband, for myself and I am not any of that currently. I am fat and flabby with thunder thighs, huge boobs that I wish I could surgically reduce, and hips that were simply meant for birthing. I have a pear shaped body that was never meant for shorts – not that, that has stopped me from wearing them. Anyway, I digress.
What brought on this honest introspective look at where I am today has to do with a random encounter with an Indian woman who brings her two daughters to the local library’s storytime. Seeing me after a long time today, she smiled and asked, “Have you had your baby girl yet?”…and then looking directly at my belly, “…or not yet?” First of all, I was HUGE the last time she saw me. I was clearly not THAT big in the belly this time. Second, really!! I was so taken aback by her addendum that I replied by saying, “Yes, I did. I guess I am still fat.” Instead what I should have said was ask her, “Why? Do you think I still look pregnant?” or something smart alecy. I guess I am just not clever enough to come up with quick retorts to such weird questions.
Anyway, that was that. I should have embraced my body. I should have embraced my size without being insulting to her (which I wasn’t) or simply said yes and moved on after thanking her for asking. Sigh…hindsight is always 20-20…
Fact of the matter is – Yes, I need to work on getting fitter and losing weight. I need to eat healthy and start working out again. It will happen. S L O W L Y …