“Holy shit she’s fucking huge” On the beauty, insecurities and consequences of living in your own body

It probably wont shock you too know that I have struggled with body image. To say I’ve always been big would be to tell a lie, I ballooned in high-school. I’d look at my friends, enviable of their slender figures and look at my own misshapen stomach, large thighs and budding breasts. To an 11 year old ‘fat’ is an insult but one on the same level as ‘bitch’, at the time it hurts, that someone would label you so, but as you grown the insult becomes a label, a negative self identifier that creates a young identity coated in layer of self doubt and skewed body image.

Pregnancy changes you, in many ways, I’ve talked a lot about how it changes you emotionally but the physical changes a womans body undergoes during pregnancy is significant to say the least. I suffered with morning sickness and actually lost weight in my first trimester, we weren’t really telling people but it was amazing to see how many commented on my weight loss, as if weight loss was only ever a good thing. I didn’t really look pregnant until I was about 16 weeks along, I finally looked in the mirror and I didn’t see fat/thin I just saw a body, a body that was doing a fundamentally amazing thing, it was creating and carrying life and for once I really didn’t give a shit how people saw my body because it was doing exactly what it was supposed too. My body however was placed under an increasing amount of scrutiny, as the weeks went by at college people would look at me and think “Is she….? Nah no way” turning too a “Wait is she, is she really?” Too a “Holy shit she’s fucking huge” I no longer walked I waddled, the corridors parted like the Red Sea and well I really didn’t give care.

For me pregnancy meant a thorough re-evaulation of my body, I’d never spoken to a professional about anywhere ‘down there’ and now I was having very in depth conversations about cervixes and my pelvic floor, something I hadn’t previously realised existed! I’d never had someone stare me directly in the vagina before and yet here I was legs spread wide with someone putting there fingers inside me in a deeply unsettling and painful manner. My body was no longer a vessel of insecurities and shame it was carrying a human being, and he had to be the ultimate priority.

This next paragraph I’m going to write is perhaps contradictoy to all the values I hold so deeply. I am a proud mother and feminist or perhaps just a terrible version of the desired constructed media given ideal of female. I wobble, I barely brush my hair, I don’t know how to contour, can’t for the life in me successfully get eyeliner to do what I want it to do. I will very happily go to the co-op in my pyjamas and my partners massive green parka because for I value other peoples opinions on my appearances. If I choose to put on makeup, do my hair, wear fancy clothes I do so for me, not because I wouldn’t be seen without them. But despite all this I still struggle with one very permanent aspect of myself, my stretch marks.

Yes I appreciate many many women get have stretch marks, and I by no means wish to undermine their relationship with there own body but I do struggle with the appearance of mine. I didn’t choose  to have a stomach permanently covered in deep silvery lines. They wrap the entirety of my stomach, from my pubic line to a good 7/8cm above my belly button. I’m told by people that they prove I had a baby and I should be very proud of them, but I have a child to prove I have a son, the stretch marks are just ugly permanent marks in my skin. I don’t look at them and remember my pregnancy, I just look at them and see them. I’ve tried really hard to embrace them, to feel empowered by there existence, but clearly I still have some more learning and self loving to do because from my angle there just sad. Its not just the stretch marks its whole shape of stomach. The skin was stretched so quickly it looks like a deflated balloon, saggy, wrinkly and shapeless. Its not the body a 21 year old should have. I sacrificed a lot for my son but I hadn’t realised I would be permanently sacrificing the skin on at least a 1/6th of my body. Alas I still have much to learn I know, but i’m allowed to feel sad. I know appearances aren’t everything,

But fuck that, I refuse to let my insecurities ruin my body and myself for, well, undramatically, the rest of my life, my stretch marks aren’t going anywhere so this summer I vow to be the summer of the bikini!

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