2016 is the year of body confidence. Every other Buzzfeed post is celebrating bodies, no matter what shape or size and parenting blogs everywhere are giving thousands of words to the Amazonian power that giving birth to a child makes you feel. Stretch marks are tiger stripes. The loose skin on your stomach is just proof of what your body can do. Ruined boobs mean you gave your assets to feed your child. Flaws are no longer flaws, they’re something to celebrate and be proud of.
Except I can’t do that.
It’s been five years since I gave birth and I can’t look at the flaws on my body as something to be proud of. I look in the mirror and see a body that I don’t recognise, a body that I don’t want.
I’ve had battles with my body since I was a young teenager and was diagnosed with BDD last year. This makes it tougher to accept the flaws on my body and instead I focus on them to the point of obsession, unable to leave the house in anything that remotely clings to my stomach because of course everybody will be staring at it. I can’t wear a bikini that isn’t seriously underwired, with a high-waisted bottom of course. I’ve missed nights out because I can’t find something to wear that successfully hides the bits I hate. I’ve induced panic attacks while lying in bed thinking about wearing certain outfits. Sex can be completely ruined by trying to keep my stomach covered or my boobs held in the ‘right’ place. These negatives happened occasionally before, but since having my daughter it’s so much worse.
I wasn’t one of those lucky ones who made it through without a single stretch mark – my stomach, thighs, and boobs are covered. I had boobs bigger than my bump during pregnancy, and they expanded further once my milk came in, so now they resemble something like a pool ball in a sock. I work out, I’m trying everything within my power to improve my body, yet I know that the body I desire is one that I’ll never actually be able to achieve. Because it’s not physically possible. And daring to say I want to try leads to a thousand ‘but you don’t need to lose weight’s. Which, just so you know, isn’t the compliment you think it is.
Yes, of course I realise how amazing my body is for being able to grow a baby, push it out, and feed it (a bit, breastfeeding wasn’t our strong point). But that doesn’t mean I don’t see my flaws as flaws. I’m broody as all hell at the minute so I see baby bumps and feel pangs of envy and desire, but I also remember how gross and huge I actually felt.
It feels like if you don’t feel completely proud of every element of your life that has changed since having kids then you’ll be lynched by the mummy crowd. Still want to go out and get pissed as often as possible? Disgusting. Find playing constant games of princesses as dull as an episode of Cash in the Attic? You’re a shit mum. Hate the way your body has changed? Evil bitch troll from hell.
I think women who are able to feel proud of their ‘tiger stripes’ and loose skin are incredible, but I can’t feel Amazonian. I just feel gross. And I feel like I should be allowed to feel that way. I’m 25 and my body does not match my age, I’m at peace with the fact my life doesn’t match that of a 25 year old (and love the reasons why), but my body isn’t something I don’t feel like I’ll ever accept losing. And now I’ll ever get it back.
Amazonian, I am not. Bound in Spanx, I am.