Monday, July 1, 2013
I always have had some body issues.
For some of you it’s something that came with motherhood. For that I’m sorry. It sucks. But for gals like me it’s old hat. While you were worrying about (gasp) the possibility of a C-Section scar showing in your bikini post-baby, I was just praying that leggings would still be cool after my baby was born.
The truth is that I’ve been so busy chasing a 20-month-old I haven’t had nearly as much time to think about myself. Time spent in front of the mirror deciding if I look fat in that? Mostly I just check for spit-up spots (or now it’s food thrown at me from the high chair); throw it on and roll. In short, I haven’t thought a lot about looks in the way I once did because I’m short on time. That said, I’m a style editor and thinking about looks kind of comes with the territory. I can’t really avoid the pages of Vogue (nor do I want to, although I can throw the Victoria’s Secret catalogue in the trash before it gives me a total complex). And I love fashion too much for appearances to mean little in my life.
Appearances matter much. It’s no different in the motherhood — at least not around these parts. I was reminded recently that perhaps there are recesses of the world, however, where a more honest depiction of motherhood is accepted, celebrated even, when I spotted a lovely little statue. It is a mother. Breasts sagging, a baby on each hip, a little paunch belly.
My first thought — ‘O, hey girl, I know you.’ She looked like a kindred spirit. She was a reflection of so many of us. And yet I couldn’t help but get a good laugh at her expense thinking how odd she looked. Mothers, we’re told, don’t look like that.
Mothers who work hard look like Gwyneth Paltrow. They walk on Victoria’s Secret runways just two weeks after giving birth with less jiggle than I had pre-pregnancy. They look like Jessica Alba and Gisele Bundchen.
There are lots of things people tell you before you have a baby. Some say these little people destroy your body (“but, they are so worth it!” they exclaim — lest you should think a regretful bundle of stretch marks not worth the existence of their precious child). Others, however, seem to bounce back so quickly and completely it seems a feat of magic. And most of us in the beginning are too tired to really think about it at all.
I think it’s all a matter of perspective. It’s where you allow your mind to live and settle. In parts of the world that little statue wouldn’t garner a snicker at all. It is what it is. It is #motherhood. #truth. But around these parts we’ve seen too much Bundchen. We’ve seen the exception more than the rule. And for many of us the exception has become the rule.
I don’t know what the answer is. It’s a big thing — tackling this world we live in that glorifies the smoothest thighs and leanest hips and gravity-defying breasts above most other virtues.
I think it starts in our own minds. In a belief that it’s OK. That being healthy is what matters. That taking care of ourselves and our families is what matters most. That feeling strong does not mean looking like Bundchen — and it’s more than OK. It’s #motherhood. It’s #truth. And that we don’t have to apologize for being devastated at stretch marks and C-section scars and say, “But my baby was worth it!” That we put it all in perspective — real life leaves most of us scarred. And stronger for it.
Besides, when they ask you to do the cover of the SI Swimsuit Issue, they’ll spring for the full Photoshop package — those scars will never see the light of day.
IND Monthly Style Editor Amanda Bedgood and her husband, Mike (who will contribute to this column), have a 20-month-old son, Wilder.