The concept of contentment is far-reaching these days, body image notwithstanding. I am the same weight now as I was when I graduated high school, but it looks very different than the day I walked across the stage in my robe and easy invincibility thinking the world was at my platform shoes. Things have shifted - literally. And I've realized this: I have the body of a mother.
It does not matter how many planks or lunges I do, my skin has stretched to the point of no return and now a fine web of delicate lines trace my body here and there, a monument of what it accomplished in the growth and birth of another person (not to mention it will never again be "firm" - *sigh* that spot just below my belly button feels suspiciously like dough). If you are a woman who never got a stretch mark, congratulations. Go eat a cookie. Like, right now. In moments of despair, I envy you, but then in moments of clarity I remember that I did an amazing thing, something half the world population can not do. So why do I feel so embarrassed, or like I need to apologize to those who might see me in a swim suit? Like I was stating a disclaimer? This has been going on since the beginning of man! Why should I feel shame for what I was built for?
I don't want to talk about how the media and industry perpetuate a mindset of discontentment - lusting after beauty and better bodies - just to make a buck off of our insecurity (although that is certainly worth a conversation) but why do we become so discontent - and what's more - loathe the bodies we were given? Why can't I - a healthy, active, naturally (and outrageously) curvaceous size 8 - stop dreaming of being closer to an angular size 2? Why on earth would I even think of trading my Monroe-esque hourglass curves, now softened by motherhood, for the build of a pre-pubescent junior high girl? It's disgusting, but at times true. I found myself looking in the mirror the other day and objectively told myself that if I were in a magazine I would be a very pretty plus-size model. ??!!??!! What the what?! I give myself points for thinking "pretty" but why would I think plus-size? I'm average for my height! Most days I love my shape and size, and my husband certainly loves it. So why do I find things to become distressed over, especially things I can't change now - things like stretch marks and the effects of gravity?
Deep down, I do love me and the way God made me. It is just so easy to forget that after seeing the thin and powerful woman raised on the pedestal by today's American standards. Is it reasonable to expect our women and mothers to be wasp-waisted with gaps between our thighs? The answer is obviously "no." I am not saying that if you are naturally petite or willowy or lean that you are any less womanly, but I am saying that not every woman should be expected to trade in her shape for one that is not naturally hers. We should celebrate our shapes! All of them! Of course you already know this - I'm just on my box affirming the choir.
A friend told me the other night something her grandma once told her, and it's a philosophy I'm growing to love: if your thighs aren't touching, you need to eat more. Maybe it just makes me feel better because my thighs do touch. Don't get me wrong, I'm not condoning a lazy or inactive lifestyle, or one of obesity, but if your healthy, natural state is no gap, then be content.
God, I want to rejoice in the figure you made me, not criticize it. Who am I - a curvy little clay pot - to tell my potter that my shape is wrong? Especially when most straight clay pots would give their left handle to be a curvy pot?! And God, I can't do it on my own - I can't change my mindset by myself - I tried that already and failed. But you can do it for me. Would you? Would you reassure me everyday and every time I see myself that you made me they way you wanted - that it wasn't a mistake? That you designed the body of a mother to grow and stretch and do miraculous things and that it is not a badge of shame, but of honor? And would you help me to stop wishing to be something that I'm not, but to rejoice in what I am?
You are so gracious to concern yourself with the thoughts of a curvy, silly pot now with extra crackle glaze :) Thank you for loving me enough to see me through it all.