Some of the loveliest figures you see belong to mothers of one or more tots. Soon yours will be slender again. -Pg 32. Better Homes and Garden’s Baby Book. Meredith Publishing, 1943
I should have known from the book that told me my morning sickness was all in my head. Puking my guts out every morning and feeling like chewed gum stuck to the bowl of a drinking fountain is not in my head.
This summer, whenever we were out in public where women wore bathing suits, I checked out women. I was wondering when I would “be syphlike again” (32). Not that I was that before. I think my mother in law refers to me as a Viking princess (and I’m still trying to figure out if that’s a compliment or not). But still I wondered if other women had a figure like mine and, if one day, I will have my body back. Not the high school girl one. I promise. I like my curves. But I would settle to my early twenties body; no longer rail thin, not close to perfect, but something I’m comfortable with, something that is healthy.
First off, no one with a toddler was sylphlike. Even as they chased a running toddler this way or that, the moms had just a little more weight than they should. The thinner ones had children in elementary school years or older. Well, at least, I’m on target.
Second, I was amazed by what other women wore. There were, of course, the I-secretly-hate-you bodies wearing tiny, cute bikinis as they sunbathed, watching their offspring from afar. Women, with beautiful bodies, thin, with flat stomachs and nice legs, hid their bodies in one pieces and cover-ups. Many overweight women wore coverups. But my eyes were drawn to the slightly overweight women who chased their children, wearing bikinis. Women with guts like mine wore bikinis.
Who are these women who have accepted their flaws, their after-children bodies? And who were these women with hot bodies that chose to hide them instead of flaunt them?
Last week I joined a few of my friends for breakfast. When the subject turned to my mother, we admitted our envy over her decision of surgery. My mom can go get the fat in her belly removed and put into her breast to reshape it. And oh, while we have you open, we’ll just tuck in your belly as well. Um. Envy. As we daydreamed over the possibility, one friend talked about how she would like the surgery. The room grew silent as we concealed our hostile glares at our petite, thin mother of six-year twins. “You don’t need it.” “Yes, but I would like to have a pair of breasts.”
So there you have it, each one picking ourselves apart like a chicken dinner. I have always wondered how personal feminism got. Does subjection start in the bathroom as we stare into the mirror looking for flaws, things we want to change? Is it ok to want to look better? Or should we just enjoy who were are and accept our flaws like badges?
I don’t know. Some days I’m ok with my pregnancy-ravaged body, taking comfort that I’m healthier than I was before I got pregnant. Other days I remember how I had a flat stomach created with hundreds upon hundreds of crunches or the tiny, tight pot belly I had before the boys. Then I just want to call a plastic surgeon and work out a deal on credit. I don’t think I can keep questioning my looks. It takes too much energy and effort. I can strive for changing what I can (with healthy eating and exercise) and accept what I cannot change (blaming it on pregnancy and genetics).
At least, that’s what I say now. Ask me tomorrow when I glance in the mirror.