This post is about the reality of being happy with your body, because you’re healthy, and for that reason alone.
That said, I specifically request you not bombard the comments of this post with suggestions on how to tighten my skin with bone broth, improve imperfections you see or discuss anything other than acceptance of ourselves.
We women are our own worst enemies, we are the creators of judgement against our own kind. Most worthy men around us pine for the mere attention we grant them. They look at you with complete adoration and compliment you while you proclaim yourself bloated with bad hair and zits.
It is us who creates the image and standards of ideal women. Barbies exist for female imaginative play, after all. But we need not be ideal to be beautiful.
Laugh lines are sexy.
What matters is the person you are, the person you intend to be, it is the joy you share with the world and what you give back that creates your beauty. No one is physically perfect, but we can have confidence in who we are to bring out the best in ourselves. If you don’t believe it, who should?
My favorite pictures of anyone are the guttural laughter showing pure joy. Joy is a must have. And the laugh lines they produce are the marks of someone who has enjoyed life. It is happiness and health that radiates from the inside out. Because when you strive for wellness, it is then your skin clears, your bloating diminishes, your hormones balance to an emotional ideal and the true, best you shines forth.
Nothing and no one is perfect all the time.
I’ve personally been battling quite a bit of depression since Wesley weaned. I haven’t felt that spirit of radiating joy since February 2012. This is sadly normal, but certainly not ideal. Our bodies and the hormones that run women’s bodies are made to procreate. Breastfeeding itself produced oxytocin, which provided additional feelings of happiness each time Wesley would nurse.
I’d been pregnant or nursing for 7 years straight when he stopped in February. My body was so confused when all that stopped, then it got hit with a huge whack of stress with our book launch at the same time. And now it’s 6 months later and I’m willing to admit I need help, which I’m actively working on.
Part of the journey is emotional recovery.
I’ve been through life changing events the last 2 years. I’ve turned my world upside down. I’ve become a different person. It’s changed how people perceive me, it’s changed the relationships I have in life, it’s changed my career, it’s changed our finances; there isn’t a single thing that this weight loss hasn’t affected in my life. It’s been an emotional battle to figure out how I feel about that change, how I want to perceive myself and the new reality.
No matter what I look like (or have looked like), the love my spouse has for me makes him weep. Because we are connected, we are in a partnership, we grow together and work towards being the best for ourselves and the family that we can. He supports me in every capacity he is able, because of the respect we have.
Thus he, my best friend, is unable to understand how when I sit among these ladies in the moment these picture were snapped my thoughts were about how much I would stick out and look unhealthy, while representing a health movement. And his lack of understanding is right, it’s an unhealthy thing to think when you’re having a blast at the party with friends you adore.
So it’s time for a little adjustment in my thought process. It’s time for me to have personal therapy, in the way that’s always worked best, openly and honestly here. I need to admit how I feel, why I feel it and use that confession as the foundation to move on.
It’s not about what I look like, it’s about where I’ve come from.
This was me. This is me.
But it’s just a body. A body that’s got wear and tear, that shows the journey I’ve taken. And just like laugh lines show joy, my body shows my journey.
I’ve got extra skin.
I’ve got, probably, over 20lbs of extra skin – especially on my upper arms, inner thighs and lower abdomen. These unedited photos are my reality. Of course I want to Photoshop the hell out of them. I want to not make this post and hide this reality under a rock. But why. For what? This skin is my badge of honor and success. This is my call to all women I can reach that we have nothing to be ashamed of; we create our own standards of beauty.
My poor body has lost its elasticity and shows the many, many years I spent over 300lbs. This is is what happens when you lose and gain and lose several hundred pounds inside half a decade. Not to mention 3 pregnancies, 3 lower abdominal surgeries, and a gall bladder removal.
I will spare you the horrifying results of nursing 3 boys for 6 years. Although again, what I have to show for that is true beauty, joy and wellness. I have 3 healthy, happy, nourished children.
I am not ashamed.
I will not compare myself to those who had a different journey.
Am I mortified at what I did to my body then? Absolutely. Am I proud of what I’ve done to my body now? Without a doubt. Can I change what happened as a result? Only with unnatural medical interventions, and then what do I have to show for my journey? More scars, more emotional trauma, and bills.
But guess what? These things make me who I am. And despite the fact that pants never fit me because designers don’t plan for extra lower abdominal skin, or the fact that I only feel comfortable wearing Spanx every day, I am learning to embrace this skin, these stretchmarks, as being as beautiful and sexy as the healthful changes they represent.
If laugh lines represent joy, then my extra skin represents wellness.
I’ve been reminded by some pretty smart women lately (thanks Stefani, Hayley, Liz and Diane) that emotions, even chemically driven ones, can be managed in your brain. If you think certain thoughts and develop habits to support a positive attitude, then you can change your own mental balance.
I might end up going on a strong supplement or medication to help balance my hormones. But the first things for me to do are to refocus on positivity in my own life, as well as continue to dial in my nutrition and stress management.
I am fortunate to have a spouse who supported my journey and still finds me, all of me, sexy and attractive. He encourages me to forgo skin removal and a “mommy lift”, to appreciate myself for what I am and what I’ve done. I now strive to see myself how he sees me.
From JesseStansfield.com at the Sustainable Dinner
How do you feel about yourself?
I guarantee you I’m not the only one who needs to be honest with myself, with what I’m really thinking and worried about, and how to move past the struggles I find myself encountering. I encourage each of you to forgive yourself, embrace joy and develop a strategy to find self peace and love in your future. It is, without a doubt, the most important thing in my life right now and I thank you all for joining me on this journey of utmost significance.