I think we all have things about our bodies we don’t love, that we’d like to change, maybe try on a different version if we had a chance. Sound about right? I joke that I wish I had a smaller nose and bigger boobs. Someone got the recipe mixed up when they made me!… or so I joke.
Those are the things I’d say I don’t love about my body; I actually considered getting a nose job in my teens, but after a fair bit of consideration opted to keep things the way they are. I figured if I couldn’t accept myself for the I was, then how could I expect someone else to? This especially resonates with me now that I have kids- and especially a daughter who I hope to raise to be confident in her own skin. Obviously there are some things that are harder/ impossible to change without an elective procedure, but knowing I had the option to change my appearance was a tempting one when I was younger and I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t considered getting a little work done when we’re done having kids.
The topic of body image and acceptance spans a variety of areas and isn’t limited to the changes we experience after having kids (both of the things I mentioned above stem from the years before I had kids). And on the topic of boobs, let’s face it: those are never the same after having kids and breastfeeding. I find that these kinds of emotions come in waves, sometimes we feel great and other times things chip away at us, at how we feel about ourselves. But while I sometimes wish I could change the things I mentioned above (or maybe something else depending on the day), I have also learned to think about things differently: what are the things that I can change for the better – such as my physical health– rather than those that I can’t? For example, one of the major changes my body has gone through since having kids is that my stomach and midsection by no means look the same as they did before.
I used to have a flat stomach, one that I kept toned and was proud to show off. I liked how I looked in a bathing suit- maybe a little more up padding top would be nice ;)- but I was and still a beach bum in the Summer. Take me to water and I’m a happy girl. But following Ariana’s birth I was left with stretch marks (I figured I probably would since my Mum has them), and no matter how hard I tried, my abs and the skin in that area were not the same. Looking in the mirror that Summer I questioned whether I would still be a bikini kinda gal or make the switch to some of the cute one pieces I’d been seeing. Follow that up with a second child and additional body changes and I was really unsure where I stood with myself when I looked in the mirror. I didn’t hate what I saw, but it took some getting used to, some acceptance, and that took time. Some days I think back on what my body used to look like and sometimes it gets to me, I’ll be honest. For whatever the reason, those things can creep up on us and affect us out of the blue. But that doesn’t mean they’re bad, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. They just are.
This past Summer I hit up the beach as much as I could, ran around in a bathing suit on the hot days, and enjoyed the bright sunny days of the season while they were here. I still have things about my body that I scrutinize (remember my joke earlier about my nose and boobs?) and I’m picky about photos of myself (selfies still make me feel incredibly self conscious- how do you find a good angle with this nose?!), but I also take pride in the efforts I’m making to feel better inside and out. Running is one of those things, and whether I run for 15 minutes or an hour, the way I feel afterwards is a high that helps diminish any stresses or anxiety I may have been feeling prior. I love how I feel after a run and that positive feeling is an overwhelming one in the best way.
Over this past year I’ve shared about some of the personal challenges I was facing, and also about the addition of running into my routine and upping my self- care game in the hopes that others would be able to relate. As with any journey, it hasn’t been straight uphill but overall it’s been a positive one; I just had to make some changes. It isn’t always easy to face things, the things that really hit home in our hearts, the things that are hard to shake off. But that doesn’t mean you have to rip off a Band-Aid or go from one extreme to the other. It can be small steps. Slow progress is better than none. Learning to love and take care of yourself don’t always come easily, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve it.
Thank you to my friend Janette of Ava to Zoe for being on this personal ride with me and encouraging me to share more on the topic of self love and body image. And to Union Swimwear for being a company that encourages positive body images in women and helping us share about this topic.
Photography: Akane Kondo Photography
Swimsuits: Union Swimwear