I’ve been part of several conversations lately about the way I look, and I have decided to post at least a few times this week about those conversations. I have lost quite a bit of weight. My stomach is flatter than it has ever been in my life. I wear a size that it literally shocked me to buy when I had to shop for clothes recently. I had to convince myself to buy the size that fit me and what I was seeing wasn’t a mirage. I have never before in my life been this size. Yes, I’ve lost weight before, but never like this. This has been a different experience. So, in my recent public appearances I’ve been asked a lot of questions about how I lost it, am I eating, and do I exercise. There has also been compliments that were followed up by an interesting statement that brought up something I’ve been dealing with for quite sometime – my mummy tummy.
I’ve had women say “oh, you look so good” and follow it up with “you don’t need to lose anymore though”. They will ask if I am sure I eat enough. The thing is, if thin is beautiful, why worry about the other. I am not really trying to lose weight. It has just happened as the result of my achieving other goals in my life. The first one was I wanted to exercise at least five days a week. I like feeling strong and fit no matter how much weight I’m carrying. I enjoy exercise. It makes me a happier person. The second goal was to make my family’s diet as healthy as possible. I did this first by moving us to a whole foods diet, and have since incorporated much of the ideas set forth by the Traditional Foods way of eating. That is all I have done. I never said I’m going to eat this much food, counted calories or fat grams, nor have I had a certain weight I wanted to achieve by a certain date. I had healthy goals. It wasn’t a fad diet, some new pill, or an exercise plan that made me miserable.
Since the birth of my second child I’ve been dealing with several scars. These scars are physically noticeable when I am not clothed and are hard for me to look at. One of these scars, I cannot even touch. That is the scar left from my c-sections. The reminder of the naivety with which I went into my first birth experience. The betrayed trust of a woman taking care of another woman. The reminder that I didn’t get my VBAC (vaginal birth after cesearean). That despite what I did achieve with my second birth, I still needed a doctor to take my baby from my womb. I have healed so much from the hurt this left in me, but that scar will always make me turn my head. It isn’t natural.
The other scar is my entire lower stomach. This scar is natural and one I should easily be able to embrace. My mummy tummy was left to me after carrying a 22 inch, 11 pound infant for 41 weeks and 6 days. I was not lucky enough to inherit resilient skin. I won’t describe it here or post a picture. My mummy tummy is between me and… uh… me. I have witnessed on television women getting tummy tucks that I didn’t understand when comparing them with me. I had never even considered that I would ever say that if I had the money I might consider cosmetic surgery. Yes, I’m saying I have fancied the thought. Me… a tomboy naturalist.
So, here I am wearing a size I still can’t believe I can fit into, and I’m hoping one day I will find my belly beautiful the way it is. It carried my child. It did exactly what it was supposed to do. I’ve never been someone to show my naked stomach in public. I’m not going to miss a bikini. A close woman to me has a husband who calls her stretchmarks the roadmaps to their babies. How sweet! I wish I could see my stomach that way. I wish I could embrace the beauty that the story behind it holds. I wish I could not always have that little fear in the back of my head that those who do see it will find it as ugly as I do.
That leaves me with the question – What is acceptable human beauty? I know my mind has been programmed to see stomachs that are flawless as beautiful when it comes to naked body beauty. In faces, I look for quirks, uniqueness, not the him or her next door look. Like… my sister Ariana, Johnny Depp, my hubby, and Oprah Winfrey. I’ve never been one to obsess about my weight or anyone else’s and didn’t equate thin with beauty in every case. But, a change in a body part that had before always looked consistent. It has been hard to accept. Man, this post is hard to write… I can’t even believe I’m putting this out in cyberspace for whoever to read. But, it’s truth. It’s part of it. I will wonder how many expectant mamas will read this post and hope with all they got that their bellies show no sign of their pregnancy. I will wonder how many other mamas are commiserating with me. I will wonder how many mamas have learned to see their changed body as beauty. I want to find a way to live with what I have, to look at what I have achieved with my health, and see beauty.