I was shopping for a new swim suit the other day. Swim suit shopping has always been a bit of a challenge for me and I was finding it even more so with my post-baby body. Before I had my daughter, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a bikini. Standing in front of the dressing room mirror though, I wondered, “can I still pull this off? Am I too old for a bikini? Is it even OK for someone’s mom to show so much skin?” I saw the stretch marks, the flabby boobs, and a wrinkly belly button. I could only see flaws.
Feeling comfortable in my own skin is a constant struggle. My inner-voice has always been so critical and totally lacking self-confidence.
Starting out at such a young age, that little voice would tell me:
“Your nose is too big,” or “Your arms are too hairy,” or You’re just too skinny.”
As I entered my teen years, the voice sang a different tune:
“You have too many pimples,” or “Your chest is too small,” or “Your bangs look childish,” and on and on…
Then I had a baby.
There is something really incredible about slowly watching your body transform during pregnancy. At first, there aren’t any outward signs. You walk around with this amazing secret, safely tucked away, but always right there. And then there are a whirlwind of changes! A bump starts emerging, making that little secret known to all. Ankles swell, hips widen, breasts start growing…until finally you are waddling around, ready to pop!
I read books and watched videos about childbirth but nothing can prepare you for the real thing. When the time came, my body knew what to do. It was performing a job that it was made to do. I harnessed a strength I never knew I possessed to bring my daughter into the world. And then my body fed and nourished another human being for almost 8 months afterwards.
After all that, how could I keep listening to the voices that only want to be hateful, critical, and negative?
Standing in that dressing room, wearing a bikini, I had to stop myself from being so harsh. So very self-critical. Stretch marks, flabby boobs, wrinkly belly button: they are just reminders of what my body is capable of. And I also thought of my daughter. I don’t want her to inherit my lack of self-confidence. I don’t want her to constantly battle with a negative inner-voice like I do. I want her to know, without a doubt, that she is beautiful inside and out.
So when I hear that critical inner-voice now, I have to remind myself:
“My body is strong. My body is beautiful.”
I bought the bikini.