Lisa and I recently went to the cinema to watch Embrace, “A social impact documentary that explores the issue of body image joining Taryn, as she traverses the globe talking to people about the alarming number of body image issues that are seen in people of all body types.” The trip coming after Taryn posted an unconventional before-and-after image on the internet in 2013 that sparked an international media frenzy, see photo below.
There was a scene in the movie that really struck a chord with me. It was when they were interviewing a photographer who had taken a series of photos of women in their “natural state” no photo shopping, no editing, just the women, in all their raw beauty.
The photo that I loved was one of a mother and her two children. You couldn’t see the women’s face. Just her stomach. Her soft, stretch marked stomach. And her children, either side of her stomach hugging her, and it was the sheer joy and unconditional love on these children’s faces which I just absolutely loved. It bought a smile to my face. They loved her. They loved every inch of her. Her soft tummy, her stretch marks…to them she was their Queen, their everything.
This movie and this photo come as a timely reminder for me. A reminder about self acceptance. I’m now 12 weeks postpartum and to be honest I haven’t been feeling the best about myself. Silly I know! I’ve just pushed a baby out 5 mins ago! But I’m in that frustrating “in between” time of having a big beautiful pregnant belly which looked good in absolutely everything to now, not even being close to fitting into my pre pregnancy clothing which currently hangs redundant in my wardrobe. I’m rotating through about three different outfits (and that’s being generous!) which I can pull up high over my tummy and that I can easily breastfeed in. It’s safe to say my confidence isn’t at an all time high. But…does it matter? Does it really matter? And after watching this film and seeing this photo…I think not.
So why is it, as a women, that I let myself feel down about the way I look? Why is it that I feel I have to live up to societies expectations of the “perfect woman” and even if I did achieve “perfect beauty” and the “perfect body” would it even be maintainable? Would it truly make me happy?
I’m the first to admit I absolutely love having the odd spray tan or getting my hair and makeup done. It’s a treat, it makes me feel fresh! But this projection of a slim, manicured, yummy mummy…well, reality is, that just ain’t going to happen. It isn’t real life.
Real life for me is enjoying the foods I want to enjoy! And if that involves having the occasional pizza and a can of coke, I will. Because I enjoy it. It makes me happy. It’s a treat, it brings a smile to my face. I shouldn’t have to be made to feel guilty about it! I’m not hurting anyone, I’m not obese, I’m not unhealthy. I’m great actually! I’m strong and smart and happy!
Real life for me is spending time with my family, hugging and kissing and loving on my children. Watching them play sports, play with their friends, giggling, bouncing, singing, dancing, filling my heart with joy.
This wake up call has made me realise that I don’t have time to worry about what people think of me! Or, more specifically, the way I look. I want people to see my heart, my spirit, my kindness. That is what is important to me. That is what I want to spend my time working on. I can’t remember any funeral I have been to that made mention of the persons looks or their weight! People remember you for the impact you made on their lives, your kindness, your willingness to help others, your smile.
You see, what we have to realise is that our partners and children love us. They love every inch of us. They love us despite a soft middle, they love us despite stretch marks and the flappy mum tum that hangs over the top of our knickers. They love us despite our tuck shop arms and veins on our legs. They still love us when we have regrowth and they still love us when our eyebrows need waxing! They love us unconditionally. To them, we are their world. Just like we love our daughters and our mother and nana and all the women in our lives, simply for being them.
So ladies, it’s time to take some advice from Queen Elsa herself and simply let it go. And I don’t mean to let yourself go but let “it” go. It being perfection. For the sake of our daughters and their confidence and self worth in the years to come, let this idea of “perfection” go. It’s our social responsibility. Let’s instead be strong and healthy and happy. Let’s stop comparing ourselves to the woman in the magazine or the lady across the street, or that school mum who always looks immaculate! Let’s give ourselves permission to embrace ourselves.
Let’s look after ourselves, let’s love the bodies we have been given, let’s dress for our own body shapes and feel comfortable in our own skin. Let’s smile, do a good deed and help someone who needs helping for this is the examples we should be setting for our daughters, this is what we will be remembered for.
One of my favourite quotes of all time is “Comparison is the thief of all joy.”
No words spoken have ever been truer, and I for one do not want my joy stolen.
For more information about Embrace and the positive body image movement, visit https://bodyimagemovement.com/see-embrace-in-australia/