[Monthly Columnist – Jaimie Bowman] – I’ll be honest–I’m not sure how to love my post baby body.
It started in the 6th grade–didn’t it for most of us?
I was in P.E. class, bending over for our warm-up, when the muffled laughter came from behind me and then grew louder and louder.
I turned around and asked what was so funny.
Three girls looked at each other, then back and me, and said,
“It’s just that….your butt…it’s as big as Mrs. Rowan’s!”
Mrs. Rowan was our P.E. teacher–I was 12.
I stuffed that experience way back in the deep dark corner of my soul, hoping to never remember it again.
Yet sometimes it emerges, like when I’m in the shower.
Or looking in the mirror.
Or trying on a new pair of jeans.
At 36 years old, I still remember that experience like it was yesterday.
It happened again many times, like when I was in college and put on my bathing suit in front of friends. They didn’t mean to stare, but I did have big hips.
I saw them looking.
When I got married, my husband told me over and over how much he loved my body. I had never had anyone tell me that before.
For the longest time, I didn’t even believe him.
“How could he love….this?” I thought.
Yet over 13 years of marriage, every single day he has told me that I’m beautiful, that I’m sexy, that I’m hot.
You would think that I would believe it by now.
I do believe he feels that way, but I still don’t.
For some reason, I have let all the other girl’s feelings about me trump what my own husband thinks about me.
After I got pregnant with our first son, I noticed the stretch marks that started showing up. It felt like every morning there were new ones, and they were everywhere.
Deep purple, canvassing my belly like an odd painting.
After I had our son–who was a whopping 9 lbs, 7 oz., a nurse came in with a thick accent and actually said,
“Wow, you have a lot of stretchy marks!”
Gee, thanks lady.
Like I didn’t notice.
Thankfully through nursing, all of the baby weight fell off within a few months.
But I still could barely look at myself in the mirror without cringing.
Then came the comments from friends,
“You should love your body! Those are baby scars! Scars of love!”
Uh, well, they still make me feel like a freak.
After I gave birth to our second son–another big boy–the weight came off again.
However, when I stopped nursing, the weight started coming back on, fast. It didn’t help with my self-image, although I would frequently tell myself these are scars of love!
Now my boys are 7 and 5, and I am 40 pounds overweight.
I have scars all over my post baby body, and to me my belly looks deformed.
And yet every single day my husband tells me,
“You’re beautiful. I love you just the way you are.”
How can I learn to love my body?
I want to, I just don’t know how.
Through reading other people’s stories, I have been encouraged. Recently, a still, small voice whispered to me that I am beautiful–and it wasn’t my husband’s voice this time. It was from somewhere deep inside of me.
I really think it had something to do with reading over and over on Renee’s blog I Love My Body series.
I think I needed to hear it from other women–women who have battle scars like me.
I’m also encouraged to tell other women that they are beautiful too, because no matter how beautiful I think they are, chances are that they don’t feel that way about themselves.
Jaimie Bowman is a minister, speaker and writer who lives in Southern California. She loves speaking truth into women’s lives and helping them find their unique purpose. Together with her husband and two sons (ages 5 and 7), you can often find them stuck in traffic on the 405, trying to find new places to explore. Jaimie blogs regularly at The Wonder Years and you can find out more about her at JaimieBowman.com.