Firstly, yuk, ‘mummy tummy’?? Are we 6?
I came across this story on twitter about the Queen’s eldest grandchild Zara Phillips and how she had attended an event and been photographed wearing a dress that showed she was carrying some weight around her middle, the media speculated that she was ‘up to 5 months pregnant’ and the womankind sighed a big sigh and realised that she was a woman who gave birth 18 months ago and now her body has changed.
They used this cringe inducing term ‘mummy tummy’ as if leading with a cutesy term negates from the fact they are shaming a woman for her body shape in a national newspaper and propagating ideals of negative body image for women.
The fact that this is news at all says a lot about the times we live in. There are children fleeing murder and drowning in our oceans, tens of thousands of animals being slaughtered and sacrificed, people in the UK living in poverty and using food banks, people with disabilities being failed by the government, yet the news in our papers tells of a woman whose body looks different post birth.
They compare her to Kate, Duchess of Cambridge who was pictured 6 weeks after the birth of her daughter looking pretty much as she had before pregnancy and speculated on whether Zara had a medical condition where her stomach muscles had split.
Because what every woman wants is to be asked if she is pregnant and then compared to someone slimmer than them! Zara was forced to make an official announcement to tell the world she isn’t pregnant. Pregnancy, labour, childbirth and those first years of your child’s life are bloody tough on the body, you gain weight, your body changes more than you could imagine, you become the perfect incubator for your baby, then you push a human being out of your vagina. Perhaps you then feed them from your breasts, your sleep pattern changed wildly and frankly, everything that you thought was important before pales into insignificance when you look at your wonderful offspring. Ladies, give yourself a break!
A friend of mine is pregnant with twins and I visited her along with another pal, the three of us have been friends for over 20 years. Preggers friend asked the two of us (5 kids between us) how long it takes for your tummy to go back. My pal answered ‘about 6 weeks’, my answer? ’14 years and counting…’
Because we are all so different, my friend isn’t any better than I am for losing weight straight away, genetics and lifestyle make the difference and I don’t feel any shame for not looking the way I did before I gave birth to a total of 28 pounds of (three) children over 4 and a half years.
Society assumes that we all give a shit. That we all are dreaming of a size 6 body. Dudes, I was a size 8 before the bambinos, I am now a 16 and despite years of dieting, always stay around this size. Could I lose weight? Yes, probably. But I love food, eat too big portions and spend a good proportion of my days sat on my bum writing stuff for blogs/magazines/books. I also really like booze. Beer, wine, cocktails… Yup! And I love food and booze more than I care about being thin.
My family are mostly all big women, I honestly think I am predisposed to be chunkier, we tend to be slim till mid twenties/early thirties and then gain weight. Sometimes I think I would like to be smaller, generally when I see a ton of women body shaming or when I go shopping and can’t find my size. Right now I am a mum of three and run a photography business, I’m starting a new career and working for the bloody awesome Responsible Fishing as an artist/writer. Life is pretty full and I like to enjoy big dinners with awesome family and friends. These aren’t excuses, I fully accept that it is because of these things (too many calories and too little exercise) that I stay the weight I am.
My body has been through so much in the past 18 months (not to mention the ten years of medication previously), three surgeries and two hernias in 18 months make exercise difficult, I felt like I was always waiting to be out of recovery mode!
But mentally and emotionally, I am learning so much. After everything I have been through I have a new respect and love for my body. Yes, it has stretch marks, scars and illness but it has carried me through these battles and still holds me strong.
There is so much pressure on women, especially once you have had children and I just wish there was more love and positivity shown towards post natal women. Mamas you are wonderful! You made a human being!!! You are goddesses!
When you see your stretch marks, know that your wonderful body got bigger to enclose and home your baby, your stomach may be softer because it’s missing the 9 months it held that baby inside. When your breasts change shape (and nipples, no one tells you about the nipple changes do they?! Yes, they are huge now!) it is because of the milk your body created and the hormones that make your body baby ready.
Your body may have changed, but so has everything else! Aren’t you more filled with love? Don’t you feel different in your head than before you had children? Don’t your priorities change? We accept all these mental and emotional changes for the better yet assume that physical changes are for the worse.
Some women naturally just ping back into the same shape as they were pre pregnancy, some change completely. Neither is right or wrong, it is just nature.
We need to band together and refuse to see our fellow woman shamed for being ‘too’ anything. Too thin, too fat, too muscly, too wobbly.
No one gets to tell you that you are ‘too’ anything.
You are more than your dress size. More than the size of your waist. More than your stretch marks. More than your scars.
You are an awesome human being and those who judge you for your physical appearance are not the folk to be listening to.
I judge on kindness, on humour, loyalty, love. The people I want around me are ones who are interesting, loving, awesome, funny, wonderful, caring. And I don’t give a fuck what dress size they are.
Love Sam xxxx