HoneyKids writer Kate Dimarco tells us how she feels about her post-baby self, and why she's working hard on body confidence...
When I was tasked with writing this story, I’ve got to admit I felt intimidated. Intimidated because I feel exposed talking about my deepest, most intimate thoughts about my body image. But mostly because I’m still not exactly sure what my opinion is on my post-pregnancy body – I know what I should feel, but that’s not often what I see when I look in the mirror.
Reality vs expectations
We all know how we’re supposed to feel about our post-pregnancy bodies. Our feminine form is to be celebrated and revered for the miracle it’s performed – from conceiving, to growing a beautifully formed foetus, to birthing that child and then, if you’re breastfeeding, pumping bubba with breastmilk for the first few months of life. Amazing! Certainly one of my finest achievements in life. I’m super grateful that my body was capable of it – three times!
But the thing is, it’s one thing to know those facts, but then to be able to translate that into how you feel about your physical appearance takes work. I understand the principle, but it’s tricky to find the confidence to be comfortable in this new body – with my different belly, my fresh stretch marks, my changed breasts and my bigger size.
I’ve never felt entirely confident in my appearance and I think that’s a tough place to come from when you’re trying to love your post-baby body. I stopped wearing a bikini long before children, I started wearing loose-fitting tops as soon as I developed curves, I’ve never exposed my cleavage.
Maybe because of my height (I’m exactly 6 feet tall) I’ve always felt somewhat exposed, particularly as a female and possibly more so in Asia. I have a pre-conceived notion that females are supposed to be small, petite, dainty – all things that I am not. What I see in society and online only serves to reinforce my beliefs. Despite having a healthy BMI, I cannot buy clothes in most Singapore shops, I don’t see my size reflected in popular culture (yes, there are lots of tall women, but they’re usually size 0 models) and the fitspo images I see online all feature new mums, cradling tiny babies, wearing leggings and crop tops. Thin, flat and bouncing back is where it’s at, apparently. I know, I know…I hear you all saying that I should know better than to believe what I see online, but you can’t escape the barrage – everywhere you look there are people who are seemingly flawless.
I’m getting there…
To therefore have the inner confidence to feel happy with my new body is taking time. But I know it will come. I exercise at least three times a week, I have a (mostly) balanced diet and these days I’m even lucky enough to get plenty of sleep. I also work hard to be a happy person who is grateful for a rich, loving and fulfilling life. So irrespective of what I look like – I know I’m doing the right things by my body. I’m treating it well and I should be proud of myself, on the inside as well as the outside. Perfection is an illusion, a myth.
What I find very interesting is that I have the capacity to look at other people with such admiration. I’ll often see a regular woman with great style or catch up with a friend and think how pretty she looks. Why is it that as women we find it so easy to love others, but we give ourselves such a hard time for not being perfect? I need to start shining that light inward and giving myself a high five for all the things I’m doing right.
It turns out that almost 40 years of living has made me pretty self-conscious, but only six years of being a mum has certainly revolutionised the way I verbalise my criticism. The last thing I want to do is show my children that I don’t fully embrace who I am, nor would I ever want them to think that my lack of body confidence has anything to do with them. And most importantly, I want my three wonderful, loving little humans to grow up with as much freedom, empathy and confidence as possible. Because only then will they realise their true potential and contribute meaningfully to life on this beautiful blue planet.
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