Category Archives: pregnancy

Top Three Reasons Why I’m Finally Bikini-Ready.

bikiniready

I remember a time, long ago, when the internet was just a household fledgling and Sarah McLachlan played nonstop on my Walkman.

It was 1996, and I was so unhealthy and sick when it came to my body image.  Now keep in mind, I was also the thinnest I’d ever been.  Weighing twenty pounds less than I should have, my body cried out for nutrients.  But because I’d been told by many a person that I was “Super-skinny”, I decided it was finally OK for me to wear a bikini.  So I bought one and wore it on vacation to Panama City to visit my half-brother, who was stationed there at the time.

And I hated it.  I felt  like I was crawling out of my skin the entire time we went to the ocean or a water park.  I was paranoid people were staring at my body fat and shuddering in disgust.  When I developed the pictures from the trip, I despised looking at my stomach in them.  It seemed to pour over the bikini bottom and just looked, well, gross.

(And the fact was, it was just ill-fitting, and I was so weak I had no muscle tone.)

Fast forward eighteen years.  (Excuse me while I go have an age-related heart attack.)  I’m twenty pounds heavier, have had a child, and have some rumply skin right above my belly button since giving birth to my daughter.  I also have some rumply skin underneath my arms, just a little bit, that’s popped into existence over the past couple of years.  I have stretch marks, but I’ve had those since I was a kid.

Before this recent Fourth of July weekend, I briefly contemplated buying a bikini.  I hadn’t worn one since that trip to Panama City, and thought maybe I was finally in the right head place to do so.  “No”, I grimaced to myself.  “My abs don’t look like those people’s I see on the beach.  I’m too white.  I’m suppposed to be tan.  People would laugh.”

Then, I realized, I was listening to my old eating disordered voice, and f%$& that s*$%.

I’d been listening to it all along.  Who the hell CARED if my stomach looked fish-white?  I’m supposed to look like that, I’m Scottish, Irish, English, German and French!  Who the hell cared if my bikini bottom was too big and someone saw my ass for a second as my daughter climbed onto me?  It was at a freaking family BBQ.  I realized I’d been missing out on being me, crazy, “who gives a shit”, outspoken Amanda all these years because I was listening to an old tape inside my head.

So I picked out a polka-dotted bikini, and I wore it on the Fourth.  And here’s the reasons why I think I was ready:

  1. I stopped giving a shit about what others thought of me.    Was this easy?  Hell no.  It probably took about eighteen years!  But – the second you realize the things people say about you negatively are directly related to the way they feel about themselves, you are set free.  Seriously.  So that friend who always makes comments about what you’re wearing and how you look in it?  Probably hates herself.  And her body hate doesn’t have to influence the way you feel about yours.
  2. I gave love to the places on my body that needed it.  Some of you may remember the “Tummy Love Project” that I started on here.  I never finished it on the blog, but I finished it in real life.  One of the reasons I never wore a bikini was the amount of hate I had for my stomach.    So, I meditated about it, I gazed at it lovingly in the mirror, and I strengthened it (I find in my recovery that muscle strengthening exercise does not trigger me, but instead makes me feel empowered.)  You may be laughing at the gazing at it part, but it worked.  Why?  For years, I’d been pretending it wasn’t there, silently excluding it from existence.  For the first time, I acknowledged it and respected it.  And that started the hate loss.
  3. I respected my body for what it’s gone through.  The funny thing is, before I’d given birth, I loved my body way less than I do now.  Part of it is – I didn’t know what I was working with before.  I didn’t know that I had this amazing body, capable of producing and giving life to this world.  Again, you may claim corny, but I say it’s astounding that women can do this, and be up and walking the next day.  It’s a miracle!  So, I respected my body – and flaunted its magical prowess when I wore a bikini.  I gave birth, goddamnit.

I’m sorry if you read this article expecting some miraculous not-yet-discovered secret about weight loss that made me look bikini-ready.  I was only bikini-ready because I finally loved my body and respected it, not because I had finally achieved some weight loss goal.  My head had to be in check to wear one.  Interestingly enough, I was less bikini ready when I was thinner.

So here I sit, in my bikini, writing this out in the sun on our front lawn while my little one naps.  My legs are pale white, some fat hangs over my bikini-bottom (PS, we all have it when we hunch over)…

and I’ve never been happier with my body.

Aya De Leon

Recently, my friend Liz sent me the link to this stunning blog entry.  In it, the fabulous Ms. Aya De Leon wittily takes on the media and its inability to make her feel her body is inferior.

Read and enjoy!

Screw the Easter Bonnet…

gender stereotypes start young...
gender stereotypes start young…

“What is she wearing?”

I was asked that question 35 times the week before Easter.  It was as if my child was going to a debutante ball.  I tried to shrug off vague annoyance and proceeded to judge myself for having that vaguely uneasy feeling.  But after judging myself as a “think-too-much Mom”, (Yes, I have been told that, even though I was under the impression it is 2013) I snapped upright and paid full attention to that feeling.  I was annoyed, because –

Girls are supposed to be pretty and feminine and all decked out for everyone else’s enjoyment.  Raiiight??

Perhaps boys’ mothers got asked as much; I don’t know because I haven’t had the chance to ask my mama friends yet.  But I have an inkling that the pressure is on the girls, yet again, to step up to the plate and look pretty.  The fashion industry snaps us up at birth by making girls’ clothing more fun.  I’ve heard a million times from mama friends in hushed tones, “I love putting him in this suit, but it’s much more fun to look in the girls section.  You have so much more.”

Can I please put my daughter in ripped jeans and a wife beater next year?  Please?

OK, I’ll calm the feminist rebel in me for a second.  Do I love dressing my daughter up?  Of course.  Is the baby girls’ clothing department aesthetically pleasing?  Hell yes.  But does your happiness and satisfaction lay in my daughter’s appearance?  No it doesn’t.  And my daughter and I also don’t want your projections of what a little girl should act or be like.

And even though I try to shield myself from the judgment, I then feel like I have to wipe off every frickin crumb off my daughter’s face and straighten out every hair from her ponytail.  Aaaaand, the funny thing is, I don’t, because a kid’s job is be messy and ruin her clothes and fall sometimes.

And the bonnet!  The f^%&ing Easter bonnet.  I had a million frickin comments from people because she wasn’t wearing one.  OK.  If they only knew putting (and keeping) a hat on my kid is like trying to write with a gummy worm.  Or something.  And I’m not going to put my kid in something she hates just for appearances.

I’m not saying change tradition and stop parading kids around in their Sunday best once a year.  I’m just saying, be aware.  Body image and gender stereotyping stuff starts YOUNG.  And it’s not me “thinking too much.”

(Image provided by zulily)

I Never Thought I’d Say This, But Lay Off Kim Kardashian.

Any of you who know me understand that I can’t stand celebrities like the Kardashians.  I don’t touch reality TV with a 10 foot pole, and basically think it’s the breakdown of American society.  So I paid little attention when she became pregnant.  I paid a little more attention when I found out they are naming the baby “North”, (read:  full name is North West.  Want to commit heinous crimes.)  and I paid a LOT more attention when photos like this surfaced:

0131-kim-kardashian-akmgsi-3

 

…And of course, critique ensued.  “She’s bingeing on cake, pasta and cereal!”  “She looks fat!”  BLAH BLAH BLAH.

Whoop de ding.  Another female on this planet is pregnant, and she’s gaining weight.  NO.  WAY.

The joke’s on you, you dumbass media.  You’re busy being all sick and gossipy, and Kim probably doesn’t give two sh*$s because she has every maternity designer and personal trainer at her fingertips.  And we don’t give two sh%$s because we’ve gotten pregnant too.

Just lay off.  Pregnancy is not a story anymore.  A million women have gained weight and pushed babies out.  Go find something more interesting to report on.  I hear there’s a small situation in North Korea going on right now.

(Image provided by tmz)

Pregnancy and Body Image: Some Surprises

I’ll never forget the way I felt when I saw the “Yes” on the pregnancy test screen. First there was disbelief, then panic, then later, after crying in a dazed state to my best friend and mother, joy. I had anticipated this for a long time; I had ALWAYS wanted to be a mother. But I anticipated this with dread and happiness simultaneously. Happiness, because I knew I would (minus the learning curve) be a great mother, and dread, because I didn’t know how I’d react to the weight gain, being in eating disorder recovery.

I seemed to worry less about my weight during the pregnancy. I think (and most doctors would shudder at this) I looked on it as the one time I could eat whatever I want and it wouldn’t matter. It was such an escape from my ED, in a sense. Society was cool with me getting bigger. I DID have to stop myself from calculating possible weight gain in my head, however (“If I’ve gained a pound a week then I’ll be X amount of pounds by nine months…AHHH!”) I was proud of myself though; I faced the numbers on the scale every couple of weeks and for the most part, left them at the OBGYN office. I didn’t hold back on eating.

28 Weeks
28 Weeks

But I worried incessantly about how quick my body would bounce back after. How long would it take to lose X amount of weight? Was I screwing myself by now by not curtailing what I ate? As soon as I gave birth, I looked down at my confused, tired stomach and wondered if it would ever change from it’s current war-torn state.

Still in shock...
Still in shock…

And I proceeded to have the strangest experience.  The weight dropped off like NOTHING.  I know, I know, you can call me a bitch if you want, but it was like a giant F%#$ you to my eating disorder.  I had been obsessing about how I would lose weight, and my body ended up taking care of for me. This began my admiration for the power of the human body.

I marveled at how I simply produced milk for my daughter.  I was astounded by the healing powers of my body when I, six weeks later, was able to run a mile after, well….let’s just say: there were some blood loss issues.  And I was impressed again, when my body truly resumed its pre-pregnancy form post-breastfeeding.   I have a trainer acquaintance who swears up and down that weight loss or gain is all hormone-related; I’m beginning to believe this.  Hormones, in my opinion, are NUTS!  (I’m sure my significant other, John, would attest to that.  Notice that I’m not talking about the emotional piece of my pregnancy.  That’s another book for another time.  Ahem.)

Bottom line…I feel sexier now that I had a child.  Even if I don’t look stereotypically sexier.  Before you think I’m a total Pollyanna, you should know it’s not 80% of the day, when I’m in a shirt that’s been thrown-up on (holy acid reflux, my Fiona had) or my hair looks like Mom hair or when I’m wearing flannels next to John.  It’s moments when I’m walking down the street to my job, and I realize, “I gave birth, goddamnit!  And I’m still here!”  Seriously, does anyone else take pride in that?  I sure as hell do.

goofball.
goofball.

I think the other piece of it the lack of appreciation I had for my body pre-pregnancy.  I just didn’t know what I had.  This amazing, regenerating, life-giving machine that was capable of so much strength.  But because I believed that it was just to be looked at…I hid it.

I don’t have perfect body image.  No way.  I have this little dimpled section of skin above my belly button that is a leftover physical mark of pregnancy.  Do I wish it was there?  Of course not.  But I’m pretty damn amazed that I was able to push a baby out.  I’m…proud of myself.  I’m proud of my body.  And after 14 years of criticizing my body, I’m pleasantly surprised at that.

I know this isn’t everyone’s experience.  I’ve talked to friends who struggle with body image after giving birth.  (I’m convinced whether you gain or lose weight during or after pregnancy is one big genetic, hormonal crapshoot.)   I just wish for all of them that they can feel empowered after what they did.  Cause I “still got it”, and so do you.