I wasn't more than 12 or 13 when my father made a snide comment to the effect of "thunder thighs" or something of the like. He thought he was just teasing, but just like that my life long battle began. It wasn't entirely his fault, and perhaps he didn't even realize what he had done. But I became fully aware of what was and what was not socially acceptable when it came to how I looked. Like most young girls of pubescent age, everything matters. How you look and how you perceive how people see you just happens to be the most important thing in the world. At that time, I thought I was fat. Keeping in mind, dear reader, I was maybe 13, but I knew I was fat. Well I was fatter than every other girl in my class and certainly fatter than all the "popular girls." Little did I know, most of those popular girls felt the exact same way I did. And some still do. Life and time have a way of equalizing us all.
Fast forward 16 years and I can say with all honesty most of those feelings have gone. I say most because I still have the occasional glance in the mirror when I linger a little longer on my midsection as I step out of the shower. But now as I look at the stretch marks and hanging belly skin, I see love. Love that came from carrying my son through a pregnancy. Love that comes from nursing my son as he grows through his first year of life. Love that comes from a woman who finally after 29 years of living in, loving, and hating her body...has finally decided to let it go. I don't want to be one of those women who scrutinizes every line on her face or schedules her "routine" tummy tuck or face lift at 50. I don't want to be one of those women who agonizes the cellulite or spider veins. I don't want to be one of those women who passes on her negative body image issues onto her children. I want to be a woman who laughs often and doesn't give a single thought to the laugh lines that will inevitably appear. I want to be a woman who eats dessert with her children and husband and enjoys it without thinking of the extra sit-ups she'll have to do in the morning. I want to be a woman who doesn't shrug off her husband's compliments or roving hands. I want my children to see that I think myself as beautiful regardless of what size jeans I am currently in.
THIS IS MY BODY. It's not Hollywood perfect. It's not MTV perfect. But perfectly me. This is the body of a woman who has loved life and given and nourished life. Every stretch mark and dimple has been earned in love, and as I trace those curves I will smile. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and I will no longer find my beauty in this world.
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