From LC to Caitlyn Jenner to postpartum bodies, we’re all abuzz this week about what makes a woman, and what makes her beautiful.
As moms, we’ve gotten used to rethinking our relationship to our bodies, and how we talk about them.
Like when we tried to redirect our internal dialogue from “I’m huge!” to “I am a pregnant mother goddess swollen with the fullness of new life!” (Or something! Hey, we tried!)
So we loved what Jen McLellan, founder of “Plus Sized Birth,” told Motherly about about how giving birth changed her thinking about her body: “During pregnancy something changed within me as I watched my belly grow and felt my son kick. When I gave birth on my knees, there was no looking back! I realized in that moment the strength and beauty my body possesses.”
On Monday, Lauren Conrad shared that the editorial staff of her website has decided to delete “skinny” from their vocabulary.
Here’s Conrad writing:
“When we’ve talked about getting in shape in the past, words like “skinny,” “slim,” and “thin” have often come up. Starting this month, we’ll be banning any body shaming terms from the site, and replacing them with words like “fit” “toned,” and “healthy.” We try do to this for the most part anyway, but now we’re making it official! The word skinny will now be reserved for skinny jeans. My editorial team and I had a long talk about it, and we want to make sure that the focus is on being fit as opposed to a number on the scale. Every body is created differently—and healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes.”
After I gave birth to my son, I was conscious of the way I poked at my postpartum body, knowing my then three-year-old daughter was eyeing me. I tried not to grimace when she grabbed the folds of fat that sagged around my emptied womb and announced, gleefully, that mommy was “fat.” Her little eyes were mischievous, waiting to see how I reacted to her watching, to her laser focus on my midsection and her use of the “F word.” I wanted to scream “Don’t touch it, don’t make it exist!” But her little eyes were always watching so I forced out a smile. “Mommy had a baby,” I would tell her, “This is what Mommies look like after they have babies.” That sounds positive, I think to myself. But at the same time, I resolve to add an extra workout to my week.
I want to tell her that her lovability is not connected to her size and shape, but that the world will, for the rest of her life, tell her the opposite. Every single image she sees of women — on TV and in the movies, on magazine covers and her toy shelf, in the Fairy Tale High books she reads and in the whispers of the little girls on the playground — chant the same refrain: be thin, be thin, be thin. I want to tell her that her battle has just started, that it will come at her from all ends, and that there is no end in sight. But I can’t form those words. I’m not sure she’s ready for them yet.
Being a woman is powerful. Being a woman can sometimes feel disempowering. As moms, we’re working to be conscious not only of the messages we send to others about their bodies, but about the way that we talk to ourselves about our own.
Speaking of transformation. . . also this week,Jon Stewart welcomed Caitlyn Jenner to womanhood by noting that in the transition from male to female she also experienced a shift in cultural perception and expectation, Mic noted. From “what a strong athlete!” to “what is she wearing?”
Women are incredibly strong, powerful, and yes, beautiful. But if only allow ridiculously unrealistic expectations to define what we think about ourselves, we can wind up trapped in unhealthy ways of thinking and relating to the miraculous bodies we posses. Why not love the skin you’re in instead?