I miss my pre-baby body, but the new one isn’t so bad — skinny jeans can waitJanuary 17, 2021
THE other day on Instagram, I saw a picture that shook me out of my scrolling.
It was a black and white shot of a woman’s stomach that, unlike 99.9% of the images we see, wasn’t perfectly flat.
Instead, it was wonderfully squishy and covered in jaggedy dark stripes, with the caption: “These aren’t stretch marks – they’re flames of creation.”
I admired the sentiment and I wish I could say I felt the same. But the truth is, I loved my pre-baby body and I want it back.
I’m surprised – and a bit ashamed – that I feel this way. I’m a big believer in body positivity and accepting that our supposed imperfections are the things that make us who we are.
Before I became a mum, I would have rolled my eyes at celebrities who claimed to have “snapped back” post-birth.
I’ve always worked hard not to judge myself by some impossible standard of female beauty, and encouraged my friends to do the same. And yet… does it make me a terrible feminist to admit that I miss the way I looked before?
Before my ribs pulled apart to accommodate a growing human and my stomach expanded – and then deflated – like a beach ball?
Before the veiny cumbersome boobs now strapped to my chest replaced my perky “fashion tits”?
I'M NOT ALONE
And on the subject of fashion…There’s a famous quote about the pram in the hallway being the enemy of great art, but in my case it’s also been the enemy of great style.
If only there were some breastfeeding-friendly yet chic clothes out there, because I seem to be wearing tracksuit bottoms and jumpers on repeat.
Meanwhile, piles of beautiful dresses and jumpsuits and my skinniest high-waisted jeans – the ones I bought when I was on the “heartbreak diet” so have always veered dangerously close to camel-toe in – lie redundant and untouched.
I know I should be grateful that I not only have a working human body, but one that has just done a load of overtime to grow, give birth to and now nourish a baby. It’s a small price to pay for a bit of a “mum-tum”.
And I guess I’m not alone in not loving my lockdown body, or being sick of my clothes right now.
I’m sure I should be spending my time marvelling at the product of my genes, not wondering when I’ll fit back into my jeans.
But behind this desire to get into shape is a longing to reclaim my body as my own. After birth it felt unrecognisable, and now it sometimes feels like it belongs to my daughter.
When she grabs clumps of my hair in her determined little fists, or clamps her gums around my nipple, it’s clear that we now have a time-share on this flesh-bag that used to be my body.
The dislocation I feel when I look down at myself in the shower isn’t just because I’m squidgier, it’s because I’ve said goodbye to the old me, the one who did daily yoga and had the time to eat something other than KitKats.
This week I’m…
Watching… The Great
This Channel 4 period romp about Catherine The Great (played by Elle Fanning) is, well, great.
Riding… Air Blade
Eco-friendly, socially distanced and fun! Scooting electric-style is the next best thing to having a hoverboard.
Listening to… A Promised Land
Barack Obama’s dulcet-toned reading of his memoir is an uplifting blast in these grey times.
The other day I bumped into a friend in the street who I hadn’t seen since BC (before childbirth). She looked at me and then looked at the pram, then eye-balled me. “You look like you haven’t even had a baby!” she cried.
I suppose it was meant to be a compliment. And yet I was weirdly offended. I realised that motherhood has changed me so seismically that I want it to be visible on the surface, too.
I do miss my pre-baby body, but the new one isn’t so bad. Those skinny jeans can wait.
● Follow Kate on Instagram @katewillswrites.
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