Body shaming. When does commenting on someone’s body ultimately become shaming them? Can anyone make a comment on someones body? Do they have that right? Is it socially acceptable to comment and accept that comment, positive or negative?I have been body shamed and it happened last Friday night.
However, I was so happy. I was pregnant and having a girl- my future BFF! So I followed what my body and baby wanted. I ate constantly. I was one of those pregnant women who kept food down as opposed to bringing it up. I needed to eat to beat the bouts of nausea which would wake me up at 2am, 4am, 6am… you get the drift. I craved potatoes and olives which cemented her Mediterranean roots. Then I moved to ice cream, muffins, chocolate and pasta. Frankly, I was a disposal unit for carbs! Then couple that with extreme fatigue, I had to stop working out and boom my stomach shot out and I just started to get bigger.I gave into the weight. I was growing a baby after all! I knew that I could lose the weight postpartum. I have great drive and determination for any goal I set myself so I was never worried. I have never been the type of person who was fixated on having a perfect body, I just wanted to be healthy as health is so important. Plus, I knew I would do it sensibly, at my own pace, focusing first on my new baby and being a mum. The rest can come later.
So let’s fast forward to last Friday night where we go visiting someone so they can meet Peanut. (Yes we had to go to their house). I was looking somewhat good. I had my hair done the day before. Wearing a beautiful dress –something different from the leggings and nursing tops I live in – make up done and feeling like the closest to my old self. So I walk in and then I greet this person. Logically, I’m expecting the usual, “congratulations on the baby” or “she is so tiny and so cute” or “how is motherhood?”.
But to my absolute shock and horror I got, “You’ve got a lot of work to do my dear”, whilst proceeding to touch my stomach.
Say what?!?!? Ummmmm… Excuse me? I was completely blindsided. I didn’t know what to say or how to react.
Do I say “excuse me, I’ve just had a baby, what’s your excuse?” making me worse than the person? Do I start crying? Do I grab Peanut and walk out or do I just stay and smile? Well, what I did was agree with the person and say “I know, I’ve already started”. Then to make the whole situation worse, that night I began googling belly bands and home gym equipment. What was I doing? Why did I agree with the person? Why did I not stick up for myself?
I think at that moment I had felt so embarrassed and ashamed of my body. What didn’t help was during my pregnancy so many people would often comment on how big my bump and I were. I had people ask if I was carrying twins or triplets! I think deep down it really got to me more than I realised and Peanut being small, only must give rise to people to thinking that I had a lack of control with food, which lead to my postpartum body.
Thankfully, it was my sweet father in law who pulled me out of my body shamed funk by saying that my body is my own and no one has the right to make comment, even more so since I just had a baby. It was my choice of how I want my body to be and when I get there. Thank goodness for him I needed that dose of reality!
No matter pregnant, postpartum, round, thin, tall, short, carrying weight, being slim or any other body shape, no one should be made to feel anything less than comfortable in their own skin. I have learnt from my experience of being pregnant and giving birth that we should be praising what our bodies can do. In pregnancy, we grow new life for up to nine months. Our bodies get pulled and pushed from the inside to allow the baby to grow. And we put on weight, get stretch marks, get linea nigra, get hairy, get cellulite and a whole host of other things. No one can make comment on what we have gone through, how we should look afterwards and when we should be back to our prebaby body. I love the line from Tiffany Hall about her postpartum body, “it’s not about bouncing back, it’s about bouncing forward”. Every change our bodies go through we should embrace it and not disregard it. It’s what makes up our bodies and who we are. I believe that imperfection is perfection in its unique form and if everyone had a perfect body then how boring would we be? The biggest lesson learnt was choosing how to react to the body shaming. Most important to me is what I think about my body and myself and not someone else’s opinion.
Love your body, love what it has done for you, all the markings and all the imperfections and never let anyone make you feel less than in love with your amazing body!
Written by Kerry-Ann Karaminovski