I’ve recently started putting on weight, at a fairly steady pace. My healthy eating habits haven’t changed and I’m still working out regularly, yet my pants are getting tighter and I’m finding handles and curves in places they never used to be.
Normally, this would be discouraging. But the circumstances are different this time.
Though I’m naturally thin, I’ve still had my struggles with body image, with seasons in my life where my relationship with food is one of love and hate as I wrestle with my weight. Enslaved by the numbers on the scale, I’ve experienced the dark pit of self-loathing and appearance obsession that plagues many women.
If you’ve ever struggled with your body, the slightest change away from what culture deems “ideal” can send aftershocks through your psyche, which is exactly what I found myself facing last winter. As I stared at those two little pink lines on a white stick, the fear of what this would do to my body outweighed the joy of this unexpected surprise.
Body image is an endless struggle that women in every culture, every time endure. Perhaps it’s one of the few remaining issues that can unite us all. Our culture often sets forth an unattainable body weight and appearance that as women, we privately torture ourselves to live up to, even as we publicly decry the vulgarity of it all.
Is there any of us who can honestly say we have never inflicted upon ourselves the torture of self-critique and judgement?
How many of us have stood in front of the mirror and wished we didn’t have those hips, longed for some curves, wondered why we can’t look like her or struggled with loving the body we’ve been given?
It hasn’t happened overnight, but seven months into my pregnancy I can now embrace these changes rather than subjecting myself to the usual guilt and self-loathing. This time, the weight I put on is nourishment for a new life being formed in me. The tight pants and extra curves are symbols of the new season I am entering. They are good things.
While the scale is showing me I’m bigger than I’ve ever been, I have never felt so beautiful, so sexy, as I do now.
As pregnant women, we do our best to eat healthy, to work out, and to stay in the best shape we can, but it’s no longer because our identity is tied to the numbers on the scale. It’s for the health and wellness of our little babe, for us to be able to give them the best care we possibly can, both now and after they are born.
Does it mean we’ve beaten the negative self-image demon for good? Hardly. It still lurks in the corners, waiting for a chance to rear its ugly head and whisper its lies.
But for now, the demon cannot paralyze us. Pregnancy can teach us to be women whose beauty comes from inner confidence and joy, rather than a small pant size. Let us revel in the wonder of and uniqueness of the female body, daily in awe of the miracle we’ve been privileged to experience.