Friday, November 13, 2009
I live in a peculiar time when it comes to body image, and consequently I find myself torn down the middle. The ever apparent Pisces, not sure whether to go with the tide or battle against it. Even if it leaves me stranded on shore, no more oxygen in my lungs.
About four years ago I never gave my body much thought. I was a 17 year old girl, taught and perky. I ate like a bird but not because I was desperate to stay thin but because I had so many other things on my mind, moving swiftly to consume and feel the world and "maybe I'll actually eat dinner with my family tonight". Once I moved in with my now-husband I ate more. I settled down, became content.
When I found out I was pregnant I was 115 lbs at a height of 5'7''. I wondered what my body would become, but I was more concerned with what my life would become and when I focused on the emotional the physical fell behind. I gained 50lbs in those nine months. My frame was a mix between a girl (being that I was only 19) and the full fledged essence of a woman. Confusing and beautiful in equal measure. It had its up's and down's. My hips are small so I ended up with a wicked case of sciatica which at one point left me completely bed ridden achy with baby weight pushing my bones aside to make room for the world. My skin unable to handle the sudden weight gain stretched and became a map of motherhood and dermal abuse. But my mind was suddenly level. Once a woman who battled depression with dark rooms and razor blades and now someone so flushed with life I had no choice but to let the sun shine in. For me, for us, for him.
After Jack and I finally met, after the rush of all that oxytocin that floods one after childbirth left, I looked in the mirror and I cried. I cried a lot. I cried so much that I began to resent everything and everybody. "What the hell happened to me? Why don't they tell you these things?" I was 20 and while everybody I knew was bikini shopping I holed up in my apartment caring for my newborn yet feeling like I was pulled through a meat grinder.
It was then that I got to thinking about women and body image and society. It was a topic that made me want to rage and yet at the same time it made me want to hide myself away. Even now. Even in this very moment.
I became hopeful after I became involved in our local burlesque troupe. These women are amazing. Pillars of feminine power and allure. They built back up my self-esteem and while it has taken me miles from where I was I still find myself looking in the mirror, head cocked to the side, skeptical eyebrow raised. While I want to praise myself for being a natural woman I want to abuse myself back into a size 4. Because fashion isn't made for women like me now, for mothers who ate too much Burger King when knocked up. I hate the industry for not accepting me, I hate myself for not accepting me.
And so here I am today, torn between two possibilities- embrace what motherhood has given me and dress it, feed it, exercise it, love it or reject it and starve, exercise, deprive. Maybe soon I can get to where I want to go, with ME still intact.