So I have been fighting the urge to take and post a photo of the tag of my pants. Because I can't remember when I was last this size. Because somehow this unintentional decrease in mass has made me inexplicably...proud. At first I thought it was just a reasonably-healthy expression of pride in my post-babies-body-accomplishments. Then I thought it was some semi-harmless narcissism. Then I thought I could convince myself that it's somehow fitting, in a proto-feminist body-image post, and pretend that I wasn't really hoping to get virtual pats on the back.
If these were the real reasons, even the embarassing last one, I would take that pic and it would be all jpg-y in seconds. That shit would be ON the internetz, cluttering it up with more me me me.
But I'm not going to take a photo - hell, I'm not even going to reveal the size. Because what drives the whole concept is the beginning of a Bad Thing Chicks Do.
BTCDs happen. We, as a gender, can often actually fulfill some of the stereotypes applied to us, and we, as a gender, do a lot of the same things. Some of these things are self-sabotaging and stupid, and I blame the media for tricking us into them, but I'm not going to pretend we're not the ones actually perpetrating this behaviour, keeping it alive. BTCDs seem to involve our body image or sense of beauty too often. I like to think I resisted engaging in a lot of common BTCDs throughout my life....until After The Baby (tm)
I've never had a perfect body. I've had dozens and dozens of stretch marks since I was twelve - they were angry purple stripes until almost 16. I have a big moon face with freckles and three moles and a small jackknife scar on it. I have winged shoulder blades and a sticky-outty rib and a farm-tan on my arms that never fades to match the fishbelly whiteness of the rest of my body. My teeth are kind of crooked and my hair looks a lot like a drunk lion's mane.
But until I got pregnant for the first time, I never once thought of myself as ugly.
It was the water-retention that really did it to me. The weight gain was only a little beyond the 'suggested weight gain' and I was ok with that. But when the bloating started? I kept no photos from my baby shower because my hideous doughy balloon-face made me cry. And after the baby, when I had that floppy extra-belly worth of fatty skin to gaze down at every time I breastfed, I started, for the first time in my longish, nihilistic and fucked up life, to hate my body - really despise it, like it was something outside my Self. Something I could battle, or at least resent.
Hating your body for no good reason is a classic BTCD. As an umpteenth-wave proto-feminist I fought against it from my early puberty until somewhere in my late teens when I finally came to real acceptance of my own physical form. Then I existed in a wonderful world of 'reasonably attractive and ok with that' until the aforementioned procreation. Something about the whole process of pregnancy just left me open for all the newly-arrived Body Image harpies in my head, the constant hormonal fluctuations made me succumb to the resultant angst over and over, until it became a habit to allow those negative thoughts through. I don't know when exactly it was that I crossed the line between self-effacing humour comments and bitter self-hating comments, but somewhere, there, me cracking wise about my imperfections became a string of small self-destroying words. It became ok for me to make these harsh judgments about a body that was recovering from childbirth, to feel ashamed and not good enough. To feel that my body had been broken, scarred, ruined.
Well, it hasn't been. I know now that I was so very skewed, so very wrong. In fact, I went back and had *another* baby. I gained more weight this time, even. I had another unscheduled c-section and another long slog through post-baby-belly why-me. I still have a flabby stomach that will not win me any prizes, that I sometimes squeeze through my fingers like bread dough as if it's a costume I might be able to take off.
But I don't hate my doughy flesh. And I don't hate *me* for wearing it. Because I refuse to fall prey to the BTCD, not when I've already got so much on my plate, not when I have a chance to be a good example for my daughter, not when engaging in the behaviours will actually *make* me hate myself.
I am not perfect. I am not beautiful. I do not look the way I do in my head. But that really doesn't matter. Looks are, ultimately, such a small part of what makes a person loveable, no matter what the god damned media keeps trying to tell us. I think my looks are 10% of what makes me myself, and I've decided my looks are 20% less appealing than I want them to be. Not a huge defecit there, my 20% chunk of my 10% section. See? Doesn't matter. Follow the math. The math won't lie.
And I'm not going to tell you what size my pants are. but here's a picture of my smile.