No one ever told me that marriage, and then motherhood, would systematically alter my self-esteem. My husband is amazing, beyond amazing actually. He does not deplete my self-esteem, only adds to it, but upon being married, I realized just how insecure I actually am. Suddenly, the idea of being spiritually tied to someone made me examine every square inch of myself.
Motherhood did something similar. I realized that so much of the junk I thought I was healed of, was actually only laying dormant, like a slumbering bear, ready to be awakened when toddlers colored on walls or when I was acting less than Jesus-like.
And don’t even get me started on the toll that baby weight has taken on my self-esteem. Those extra pounds make me feel more insecure than the pack of “mean girls” I used to avoid in junior high. As of right now, I have an 8 month old baby and yes, my baby weight is still holding on strong.
Then, the other day, I stumbled across an article that I felt confidently was written to encourage women just like me. The author wrote about the need to banish the term “baby weight.” I began reading with great interest and a sliver of hope that when the article was done, I would feel freed from the pressure to lose. But the exact opposite happened and I found myself cursing at my computer screen.
As I read on about why women should retire the term “baby-weight” in an effort to be easier on ourselves, or what us Christians would call, giving ourselves grace, I realized that I didn’t agree at all. And I got angry.
Very often, what we desire to change about ourselves are not the things we actually need to change. Women are especially guilty of this. We look in the mirror and focus on each flaw, each blemish, each inch, instead of seeing what others see–our kindness, our loving hearts, our charisma, our sex appeal.
But every once in a while, the thing we desire to rid from ourselves really does deserve to hit the road. Baby weight is no exception, but somehow we have been led to believe that when it comes to physical appearance, well, we should just relax and take it easy.
I became angry at the idea of retiring the term “baby weight” because at the end of the day, I don’t want to settle, or be content, or find peace in 15 extra pounds. I don’t want to look softer, fuller, rounder. These terms are all euphemisms for “extra weight.” I don’t want to lose the term “baby weight.” I want to lose the weight. Period.
I don’t want to get comfortable in the new me and why should I? Why should I roll over, offer up one deep heavy sigh, and conclude that this is just how I’m going to look from now on?
Of course, someone reading this might feel offended when they consider that all I’m talking about are some extra pounds. Anyone reading this could very easily think I sound shallow, vain, or self-absorbed. And that’s sort of my point. If I work my tookus off because I don’t want a new body that is “substantial and meaningful” chances are another woman might consider me preoccupied with physicality.
But is it wrong for me to not want “a heft that is curvy and vibrant to the touch”? Is it wrong for me to fight for what I once had? Does motherhood mean forfeiting who I once was for a plumper version? I don’t want to have to choose between the old me and the new me, the past versus the present. I don’t want to be left feeling like no matter what I choose, I somehow gave up on myself.
What I want is to not have another woman judge me if I choose to work out 5 days a week and count calories to get back in shape. Just like women who lovingly accept their new post-baby shape want to feel free to do so, I want to feel free to not do so.
What I want is for this whole, let’s-embrace-the-new-us-philosophy to die. What I want is to see people take responsibility, take action, take aim instead of settling, rolling over, or turning a blind eye.
What I want is to feel okay for wanting more…even if that means not wanting more pounds to go along with it.