July 14, 2006
We have slowly been moving the stuff from our old bedroom into the new room, and in doing so I cleaned out an entire closet of ancient, dusty piles of clothing. I have a bad habit of buying crappy Old Navy t-shirts, then deciding that even I have some standards and banishing them to an ever-growing stack of ugly, ill-fitting shirts that apparently were designed for the specific purpose of highlighting bra-strap pudgerolls.
Into the donation bag they went – all of them, along with any jeans that took the term “low rise” way too seriously, a too-long shirt that I stupidly cut with a pair of scissors in the hopes a ragged, uneven hem might be fashionable some day, a boxy denim skirt that would make Kate Moss look like a lumbering wildebeest, and a pair of ungodly white fleece-y sweatpants that attract every pet hair within a fifty mile radius.
In the process I discovered at least five pairs of pants that I had hidden away at the start of my pregnancy last year, around the time that I embraced a tender, emotional relationship with Mint Milano cookies and could theorize that my expanding waistline was certainly due to the growing baby, never mind that he was about the size of a pencil eraser. Postpartum, I still couldn’t fit into them, and so kept them stuffed in the back of the closet in favor of roomier styles.
I tried everything on yesterday, and I was thrilled to find that all my old size 10s fit now. The size 8s, not so much, but the size 10s finally fit again. Believe me, I haven’t been dieting, so I think my body has just taken this long to reassemble itself into the same basic shape as before.
The same basic shape, but not exactly the same: my belly is squashier, and weirdly…I don’t know, kind of loose? Saggy. Well, of course. I mean, at one point it looked like this:
And now it looks like this:
I took that photo today because of this website (found via Amy). I spent some time on there this morning, looking at image after image of bodies that don’t fit within our societal ideals of beauty. I mean, to be completely honest my first reaction was one of surprise and disbelief, because it is so incredibly foreign to me that anyone would show that part of their body if it didn’t look like what you would expect a naked, displayed belly to look like – taut, tanned, smooth, muscled – but the more I looked the more I felt amazed and in awe and proud of those women. To show your body in all its reality is to take a step towards owning it, and a step away from it owning you.
I am not a confident person with a good body image. I look in the mirror and I see flaw after flaw after flaw. I am terrified of hitting this “publish” button. Every alarm bell in my head is going off. I have been staring at this web page for an hour, trying to work up the nerve to show you a part of myself that I normally keep hidden even from my own husband.
But the thing is, this is me. Right now. This is my body. I own it.