My instructor at a fitness class I attend was recently talking about self-image, and how women tend to fixate on the negative parts of their body. Most women have at least one moment when they recall being told something about their bodies – often at a young age and in an off-handed way – and forevermore feel the stigma of that comment. You have a wide waist. You have thunder thighs. You would be so pretty if you only lost some weight. For me, overweight in my pre-teen years – you shouldn’t wear a jean skirt.
The instructor also talked about the importance of reclaiming that body part by recasting it in a positive light. So for instance, instead of having a wide waist, you have narrow hips. I love this idea. Even beyond empowering us as individuals to reclaim our body and move on from the negativity, it sets a wonderful example for our children – especially our girls.
As a thirty-something mother of three, I don’t find myself thinking about the way I look as often as I once did, for better and for worse. (Although I like to pretend black flannel pants can pass for dress pants, they just can’t.) But I actually love my body. It is faster and stronger than it has ever been. It birthed and nourished three healthy children. I can do push-ups without having to go on my knees. I recently PRed in a half marathon. And, the biggest feat of all, I’m able to keep up with my three kids. Well, usually. And with excessive amounts of caffeine.
But writing this, I realize that I focus more on what my body can do rather than on how it looks. My legs are strong and well-defined. My back is smooth. But there are certainly parts of my body that are not as attractive as they could be. My feet are really wide. My stomach is far from flat. My breasts are not only saggy but also completely different cup sizes thanks to three years of breastfeeding.
Okay, so here goes. My attempt to recast and reclaim:
My wide feet absorb hundreds of miles running by myself, with good friends, and with my children. They carry me over mountains. They pad softly as I peek in to check on my baby. They balance children while roughhousing. They have been good to me. I love them.
My stomach has been through a lot. It has been pushed from the inside out for 122 weeks through three pregnancies. It has been a reliable source of stored fat during breastfeeding. The muscles underneath are strong, and help me run faster, carry my children, and stay balanced. It has been good to me. I love it.
My breasts. Well, that’s tough. I guess their lopsidedness is Picasso-esque. They give visual interest to a horizontally striped shirt. But in all seriousness, I wouldn’t change them. They provided nourishment for my children and kept them healthy. They have been good to me and my children. I love them too.
All right. Your turn.