Bathing Suits. Body Image. Post-baby.
Need I say more?
I was causally walking through the mall on Friday afternoon, innocently looking at t-shirts and shorts, flip flops and sunglasses when I was accosted by the most upsetting sight...
this wall...of...well, bathing suits for young teenage girls who have never, ever had a baby and don't know, practically speaking, what a stretch mark is or what it means to have MANY of them OR for the very, very, VERY lucky women my age who have had babies but because of their lucky genetic predisposition (and often their tall slender bodies which leave enough room for a baby to stretch up instead of out during pregnancy) are still able to don a belly baring bikini after their children are born (Ahem. Miss Sara D. in MA whom I love like a sister but don't like very much during bathing suit season!).
You see, even if I had shed all of the baby weight I gained (and fortunately I have shed most of it), my stomach will never see the light of day again unless I want to dish out big bucks for a tuck because, as Scott likes to say about pregnancy and all things related, my tummy "took one for the team" when I carried and brought children into this world.
This is how bad it is. Shortly after we moved here I was looking for a primary care doctor. I saw a number of them in the process. One woman (whom I did not like for a number of reasons but read on to find out the biggie!) who must have never had children, and talked through her nose, said,
"Oh my honey. What happened to your stomach?!"
Are you serious lady? Did you just ask me that?
"Wow. That's too bad,"
Yes, yes, it is and now if you would just finish my physical before I knock you over with laser beams from my eyeballs we can all just be on our merry way.
Seriously though...it looks pretty bad. There are stretch marks and sag marks and my poor ole belly button looks as if it were the end of a balloon inflated and deflated seventeen times. If I were really hard core I'd take a picture and post it here...but, despite bearing children and having nursed in public and feeling, at times, like all sense of humility and dignity is gone, I have reserved enough self-respect to not post photos of my belly for the whole worldwide web to see.
So what's a stretch marked momma to do?
Well, I could wallow in my misery by eating potato chips and ice cream while flipping through fashion magazines and staring at barely clad, skinny models in bikinis.
Probably not the healthiest option...
OR I could just get on with things and embrace my new body and all of its, well, um, stretches and curves and motherliness (did I mention my boobs sag too?!).
I'm thinking option B is the best I can do.
Besides, if I take this from the superficial to the spiritual in my thinking, I find myself asking, "Lis, what would God have to to say about this?"
Oh dear. Not sure I want to go there.
What I am sure of is that God would prefer I spend my time and energy thinking about more important things than bathing suits and taut belly skin. And, that even if we did have so much money that a few thousands dollars spent on plastic surgery were not be a big deal, would it actually be the best use of the money?
Thinking God might have something to say about that as well.
So, the next time I find myself staring down the wall of itsy bitsy bathing suits, or enviously eyeing up one of the skinny women looking at the itsy bitsy bathing suits, I will smile approvingly and simply say "well...good for her" (through gritted teeth perhaps!) and then I will force myself to walk away and not spend another moment thinking about bathing suits or my stretchy tummy.
I will force myself to think about all of the ways I am physically fit and healthy; the running, the weight lifting, the Zumba classes, the vegetables I love to eat and am growing in my garden. I will think too about a gracious God in heaven who has bestowed all of these blessings on my life-- my health, the availability of food, my healthy husband and children and all of the things we have to be thankful for and I will inevitably be forced to say "lucky me."