Super Duper Uncomfortable. And Honest. And Dare I Say…Brave.

T was wrapped in his towel and cuddled in my lap after bathtime. He poked my belly. “What’s in there?” he asked.

He is really into Disney Princess stories right now. One of his classmates was dressed as Rapunzel last week on pajama/dress up day at school and he asked me to tell him the Rapunzel story later that day. I started, but couldn’t remember the details so I told him I’d look it up online.

The plot of the Brothers Grimm version on wikipedia was pretty damn dark for a three year old-blinding by falling into thorns, agreeing to give away your baby when you’ve been caught stealing, a knocked up 12 year old. I don’t want to sugar coat the world for T, but jesus, that is a lot to explain and I needed to start making dinner. I went with the Disney version and had to explain pregnancy anyway, although it was less complicated than talking about tween pregnancy….

He seems to dig the idea that I grew him and his brother in my belly. So the other night after bath T poked at my soft, blobby stomach and asked what was inside. I told him nothing, that I was done growing babies and distracted him with tickles.

He asks about the milk in my breasts when I’m nursing his brother. Of course he is going to ask about the contents of my belly. And eventually he’ll notice that I’m not as skinny as some moms and more skinny than others. I’m sure he’ll mention it to me. I don’t want to feel self-conscious around him. I don’t want to feel ashamed of my body, of the fact that I don’t fit some unattainable standard of beauty. I don’t want him to expect that women are supposed to look like fashion models. I want him to enjoy beauty, but to find it in all shapes and sizes. Mostly I want him to be attracted to who people are inside rather than what they look like outside.

But if I want all that stuff I probably need to stop berating myself for being tubby. For having wrinkles. For my ghost white skin covered in moles and freckles. For my pale lips. For my ugly man hands. For my tree trunk legs and thighs that rub together. For the stretch marks on those thighs. For the stretch marks around my belly button. For my enormous ass. For my lank hair. How can I teach him and his brother to find beauty in more than the narrow definition fed to us by advertisers and the media if I can’t forgive myself for not fitting into that ideal? Why does it matter to me that I don’t have a banging body? I’m a feminist, god damn it! It’s not like my celulite and average looks are preventing me from having wonderful friends. When giving me a grade my professer isn’t using my physicality as part of her rubric. And not to get too graphic, but Z seems more than happy to get it on with my non-perfect self.

Doing right by these sons of mine is so important to me. Raising them to be good men who value women and who know in their bones that women are every bit their equal is my number one goal. Other stuff is nearly as important to me-raising them to be hardworking and responsible and kind. But equal respect for all people is my top priority. I want them to be outraged that women face so much violence in this country, that women are more likely than men to be food insecure, that women make less money for the same work. I want them to be part of the solution.

But raising these boys right starts with me. For years I’ve wanted to find confidence and pride in my appearance. For years my anxiety has won, whispering to me that I am worthless and ugly both inside and out. For my sons I need to figure out how to let the anxiety go.

So I got a new bathing suit the other day. Ready for some honesty? And some major uncomfortableness? And some fucking fearlessness? I’m going to post unfiltered pictures of me wearing it. So what if I have tree trunk legs that glow in the dark? So what if my thighs rub together? My body has gotten me through a hell of a lot-it created two amazing and beautiful boys. My body! Created beauty! It got me through a devastating mental breakdown. And hopefully it is going to continue to get me through this life for many years to come. So I don’t look like a 15 year old model. Well that makes a shitload of sense being I’m a 36 year old stay at home mom. T and C love me the way that I am. So does Z.

Deep breath. This is me. And I’m trying really hard to be cool with who I am.

k bathing suit

And now I’m trying really hard not to point out all the flaws.

k back bathing suit

And now I’m trying really hard to not imagine that you are laughing at me. I’ve heard that there are some folks out there who enjoy a little junk in the trunk.

k side bathing suit

And I couldn’t resist including this one. Do you see my glowing legs? In high school my best friend used to call me Powder.

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32 thoughts on “Super Duper Uncomfortable. And Honest. And Dare I Say…Brave.

  1. That IS brave! Great post and I know it won’t necessarily help you to believe it, but you look adorable and beautiful and your bathing suit is super cute.

  2. I wish you well on your endeavor. I know it won’t help, but I’m going to tell you anyway…you ARE a beautiful woman. Don’t measure yourself by society’s standards as they are fake and unattainable. Be yourself and be confident being yourself and that is all you’ll ever need.

  3. 1) That suit! And you in that suit! Wowzers!
    2) I have plenty of evidence that there are many, many people who enjoy junk in the trunk. I sense that you may be married to one, in fact. So am I.
    3) Let’s write a book about Raising Boys to Value Women (working title — I’ll think of something better).

    xox

  4. Good on you, mama. You really are a stunner. You didn’t know it when you were young and you don’t seem to know it now. Maybe you will one day. But in the meantime… the rest of us can see it. :kisskiss

    • The brand is Esther Williams Swimwear. You can find it slightly cheaper elsewhere online, but Modcloth does free shipping at that price point, and even more importantly free returns. It got to me pretty damn quick, too. Get one!

      • yeah, seriously cute! And who will notice some wrinkles or leg-glow when they’re admiring the ink! I’m jealous…there are so many imaginary tattoos that I have but am petrified of the death-do-you part aspect of them.

      • Got my first at 28, thought long and hard about it beforehand. Z has way more than me, 12 or something, or as he says, “Not enough!” They are addictive and they have really become a big part of our identity. The ones for our kids are some of our favorites. We feel pretty comfortable being the old wrinkly folks with tattoos. All that said, our parents despise them.

      • Yeah, I’m dubbed the “nose-ring mama” in my friends because I’ve had my nose-hoop since I was 21 (had to take out the tongue ring because it was hurting my gums), and have wanted tattoos for a long-time. I’ve even not applied to jobs that won’t let me have my facial piercing, lol.

        Maybe you’ve inspired something…we’ll see! 🙂

  5. As someone who is struggling with a post-pregnancy body, I hear every word. I want my daughter to think she is beautiful at any size and at any age, and I know part of that will come from me and my comfort with my own shape. And I know how hard it is to push aside anxiety to hear what other people have to say. But I do want to say: I’ve never met you in person, and I know photos lie, but I don’t see an enormous ass. Or glowing legs. (And let me say, as a transplanted Oregonian myself, you’d fit right in here–we’re all pale as ghosts here in the pacific northwest/.) You look cute, No, you’re not a size two or whatever. Neither am I. But the words you use to describe yourself aren’t how you look to me. Did you see that Dove campaign thing on facebook that had the forensic artist drawing women as they described themselves and then as others described them? Because that’s what this reminds me of. Your words don’t describe you as others see you. But it’s hard–sadly, for all of us, I think. Please know that I am completely sincere–I don’t see a tubby person in these photos. I see a really adorable person in a great suit. Keep trying to see her. I will too.

    • Thank you for your kind words. You know, I don’t know a Mom who doesn’t struggle with how she feels about her postpartum body, which was a big reason I wrote the post. We should all be kinder to ourselves and it is so hard to figure out how when society has dictated a nearly unattainable standard for beauty our whole lives. How do we not listen to that noise when it comes to our bodies? And why can we ignore it when it comes to other women? I look at my friends and family and see beauty in all shapes and forms. I really do. And yet, I can’t when I look in the mirror. And it seems my friends do the same thing. It is so frustrating and we need to be better to ourselves. And yup, saw the Dove thing and thought it was really interesting.

      I wish you…luck?… success?…with your daughter. I hope she grows up knowing beauty is a diverse and wonderful thing and making it narrow is not only stupid, it’s just another way to devalue women.

  6. U underestimate yourself u body rocks and a million women would kill to have it. 🙂 and as u have said u body has gotten u to where u r and will carry u to where u r meant to be. Thanks for another great honest article. I enjoyed it.

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