To the double-digit mom buying fruits, veggies and lean protein,
We met the other day. You saw one of my friends buying donuts ... I’d like to say that was me, but my baby has many food sensitivities and so while nursing, I have to eat like a crazy person. But if it wasn’t for that — I would love to eat pizza. And donuts. And all the things you would eye in my cart, and naturally think, “Really? And to still look like that?”
Yeah. I’m that mom. The one who inherited a small body frame, the tiny waist that could fit the tiny shorts, and it has very little to do with what I eat (or don’t eat.)
I read your open letter because let’s be honest … being my size (or aroundish my size) is supposedly the “ideal.” And I was curious why you might have to say about my body size. Like for every other body size, opinions abound.
I noticed quickly that just one look at me made you feel bad. Not because I am that pretty, or because I said something to you that was mean, but just because I am the size I am. You confessed in your blog:
To get down to your waist size, Skinny Mama, that’s a goal I’ve strived for and sacrificed for and starved for longer than I care to admit. I’ve cried over the unfairness of people like you, who have bodies that work and thyroids and metabolisms that make tiny figures that fit in single-digit sizes.
I’ve known that just the sight of me makes someone else uncomfortable ever since I was a kid. I became body aware — not because I was bullied — but because I was never allowed to complain about not feeling right in my own skin. Because every mention of my body size are me feel that I needed to utter an apology to the world.
“You are right. I don’t deserve to be this small. I’m so sorry dear world for the body I have that seems so egregious to you…” because by virtue of being me, I must apologize to the world.
And this has continued from elementary school till now, as a mom of three. When I posted a photo to some of my friends who have babies my age, asking which bathing suit to wear, I got the same response I’ve gotten all my life:
“I hate you. Just kidding. I don’t. But maybe a little bit. LOL.”
And I know the script well enough, as I have rehearsed it enough times to have it memorized. “Please don’t hate me, LOL. I was born this way. I take no credit — and I am jealous of your (skin, hair, ability to have children). ”
Please don’t hate me for my body size. It’s not just bigger-than-average moms that feel the need to say this.
It’s a stupid script, really, but I love my friends and I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable, so I say it all the same. And whatever I claim to be jealous of I truly am.
I’m not asking for empathy here. I imagine reading this might feel like how I have felt all my life putting makeup on my bare face staring in the mirror next to my friend under the bathroom’s flourescent lights:
“Ugh,” my friend utters in disgust, “I’m getting a pimple. Gosh, I look gross.”
Meanwhile, I look at my pocked-up skin, having long since forgotten what it felt like to actually be able to count the pimples on my face, feeling gross and dirty and wishing I could just scrub my face clean of all the inflamed zits, meanwhile squinting to find the offending mark on her porcelain visage.
Yeah. Maybe you feel like that when a skinny momma says, “Me too.”
And yet… I could have written your post with just a few changes to choice words.
To [have a baby], [Big] Mama, that’s a goal I’ve strived for and sacrificed for and starved for longer than I care to admit. I’ve cried over the unfairness of people like you, who have bodies that work and [uteruses] and [hormones] that make tiny [offspring] that fit in [my image].
Recently a friend in my mom’s group posted this empowering article about how moms should just wear the dang suit and have fun with their friends. And she followed suit by posting a photo of herself in her darling suit. I added my photo to the list, but only with an explanation that since giving birth to my rainbow, do I now feel so much more comfortable in my skin. And I went sure to add on that I still have cellulite (because I need to validate my lack of confidence in spite of my weight.)
Crickets. There were crickets.
But if I may, can I share some of my thoughts from the last 5 years when I have seen you, double-digit mama pushing a cart full of veggies and lean protein, your beautiful babe sitting perked up in your cart:
“She got a baby.” (Heart sinking). Why am I not good enough for God to bless us with a baby again? What the heck is so jacked up with my body that it kills all my babies in pregnancy and tries to kill me too?
“Wow, her kids are so evenly spaced…” Mentally counting … So Maddy is four now, if we got pregnant this month, they would be five years apart… sob … that’s not what I wanted.
“Look at that little boy…” Reminds me of Z. Shoot, everything about him reminds me of Z. I remember being a boy mom once. Oh crap, here comes a tear. Must stop staring, must stop staring.
“Dang, that woman must have it together.” Way to go lady for choosing whole foods. Wish I could stop and ask you for some recipes… and pointers on menu planning.
“She’s so confident. I love her look. Wish that were something I could pull-off.” Love her outfit. And her hair. Yeah … she’s gorgeous.
Yeah. It turns out I had just as much thoughts about you as you had about me. And at the end of our brief interaction, in which we said a lot but never spoke, we both mostly felt less than the other.
Because as you succinctly put it — comparison is the thief of our joy.
But I think our issues are deeper than comparison.
You and I are both trying to find our joy — nay, our identity — in what our bodies look like and what they are capable of. It’s the same lie that is so engrained in our society, we no longer recognize it for what it is.
You found your joy by remembering your body conceived and bore children. Your body that ran on fumes, but still had enough for everyone and everything to spare. Your body was so productive, not only did you create humans, you created businesses and a home — while still having time to look sexy.
I lost my joy because I couldn’t produce — not babies or solid businesses — and keeping tack of my home left me feeling anxious and not-enough. I tried to compensate for my perceived failure in a million ways, but at the root of my unhappiness mostly lay in what my body couldn’t do.
When you looked at me and wondered what it would be like to have a body that worked … I looked at you and wondered the same.
But I have to ask you — what if you never had businesses or babies or a calm home or a smaller body? And what if my ovaries shriveled up, my thyroid whacked out and my body continued to miscarry my kids?What if I stayed infertile and I never got a my rainbow baby and redeeming birth I so desired?
What if our bodies were not only unattractive to us and to others … but they produced nothing?
What if you and I had to face our real worth and derive our joy not from how we felt about our bodies, how other people felt about our bodies, or how our bodies produced things for us to enjoy?
I think you and I would both agree Jesus would still be enough– even if we had to wrestle a bit with these engrained beliefs that our worth is about being happy with our bodies, and making everyone else around us happy with our bodies too.
Because the truth of it is — He is more than enough.
With you on the journey, sister-friend, to reclaim true joy within all of our circumstances,
Skinny mom buying the (gluten/soy/dairy/egg-free) donuts