The strange priorities of our times

I’d like to share something slightly off-topic. It’s been playing on my mind lately, so please bear with me.

I’ve never been particularly sporty and I do love good food, so I’ve always been somewhat on the chubby side. But now that I’ve had a baby, my body has changed. Yes, I’m still carrying some pregnancy pounds around with me but it’s more than just that. Pregnancy makes your entire pelvis wider and it never quite returns to how it was. A mother may be up an entire shoe size. Guess what, breasts also look a bit different once they’ve done what they’re intended for: fed a baby, not just made for a nice cleavage… Stretchmarks all over my belly, a nasty scar from the caesarean…

Anyhow, the details are irrelevant. Point is, my body looks different than it did two years ago and chances are it will never be the same again. Excuses, excuses, some people will say now, quoting certain models and actresses and maybe even friends of theirs who were back to their pre-baby bodies within months of giving birth.

Maybe they’re right. Maybe I am making it too easy for myself, saying that I just don’t have time for a lot of exercise, that breastfeeding is to blame for my chocolate cravings and that sometimes a quick unhealthy snack is all I manage between feeding, bathing, changing, playing and singing. Maybe that means I am a woman who lacks discipline. Maybe it means I’m an unhealthy hedonist. But I’m fairly sure F. doesn’t care about that.

However, society – in the form of magazines and adverts as well as well-meaning comments from friends and family – is making it very clear that I should bloody well be looking better than I am by now. As I said, I’m sure I could if I really tried. But my figure quite frankly isn’t my main concern at the moment. I’ve already lost about two thirds of my pregnancy weight and am wearing mainly clothes I wore before I got pregnant anyhow. I’m sure the rest will go once I stop breastfeeding (they even say you’re not supposed to lose weight whilst breastfeeding so as not to release toxins stored in the body fat) and return to work and a more ordered lifestyle.

For now, I’m just enjoying the time with my precious little man, whom I love so much that he is worth the stretchmarks, scars and sagging a million times over. Or, as C. (lovely man that he is) put it the other day when I complained about my belly because it hurt where I’m suffering from a hernia caused by the pregnancy: “Don’t insult your belly. I love your belly. It’s where F. came from.”

If only society adopted that view of a woman’s body after bearing a child. Our bodies produce a perfect person, complete from hairy head to little toes, yet we look upon these bodies as being imperfect for showing what they’ve been through. How can it be that “Wow, you’re looking as if you’d never had a baby!” seems to be a greater compliment than “You’re such a brilliant mum!”? Why am I thinking of not wearing a bikini this summer but changing to a swimsuit for the first time ever in order to hide the marks on my body? Is it not sick that anorexia amongst pregnant women is becoming a real problem these days? Can it be true that in certain circles it is the done thing to have a baby a month early by a planned caesarean in order to spare the body the worst of the stretching?

In a world in which tattoos, fencing scars and piercings are socially acceptable, why aren’t bodies that show the fact that they have been through so much in order to create a little person? Let’s all wake up and appreciate the miracle of life!

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