Sometimes I wish I could do as this woman did, and avoid mirrors for a year. I wish I didn’t spend time brushing my hair, worrying about my hair line, checking my teeth for food, and looking at my posture as I passed by storefronts.
I wonder what the world would look like if we didn’t look each other up and down sizing up our physiques when we first meet each other. What would we see if we looked into each other’s eyes instead of down at each others bellies or thighs, or feet? Since having my third baby, I’ve lost all the baby weight. So this isn’t a post about that. I’m back to a weight that I saw in college, again after baby #1, and and again after baby #2. At first, I was ecstatic, even though I’d been back before. I can fit into my clothes again.
I’m 5’6.5″ and somewhere between 125 and 130 pounds. Everyone comments on how skinny I am. On how fast I lost the weight. They comment on how “hot” I look. Someone even said that I better watch out because baby #4 was certainly on the way if I continued to look the way I did. And all of that feels good.
Until it didn’t. Until it became clear that many folks weren’t seeing me, but seing my body, my weight. Until it became a bit of an obsession on my part, thinking that when they stopped saying how good I looked, that means I must look bad. So now I’m stepping on the scale every morning. Sad to see the scale up a pound from yesterday. Sad at the paunch that still exists, the one that held my babies and gave them life.
A belly. My belly. It sometimes makes me hate being me. It is grotesque to me, unflattering, a pain in my every day life. And I wish it wasn’t. I wish I could embrace it, love it for being the life force behind the beautiful beings I call my children.
And I do when my eyes are closed. When I’m not looking at me, I feel wonderful. I feel good in my body. I feel how it carries me through my day. I feel how the squishy parts comfort my children, provide place for them to feel warm and safe. I feel how my baby, still breastfeeding, tries to put all the parts of my body in his mouth simply to feel comfort. I feel my husband’s satisfaction with who he has for a wife and partner. I feel how my feet hit the pavement in my new running shoes, how I feel strong and healthy in my two-mile jog.
And then I pass a storefront and see my reflection and see the lanky long arms and legs and small breasts with the belly in the middle and the curved in back and high butt and long neck and big feet and I see a stranger and I don’t like her. I don’t think she looks like a runner. I question what she is doing. I feel bad for her.
I feel bad for me.
And then I hate myself for being a size four and feeling bad about my body. And I’m not depressed.
There is no satisfactory ending to this post because it hasn’t ended and I haven’t stopped thinking about it and I’m on the brink of erasing this whole thing. But I won’t and I just hit publish.