Avoiding Mirrors & Hating My Post-Baby Body – Kveller
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Avoiding Mirrors & Hating My Post-Baby Body

Confession: I avoid mirrors. I dress in the dark (but that is at least partially because there is a window in our closet that has no curtains). I am very unhappy with how I look.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, you’re just being self-indulgent and stupid. You just had a baby THREE MONTHS ago–and ANOTHER baby 15 months before that. You have a lot going for you: your health, a great husband and family, a home, a job that lets you work from home and be with your kids. You’ve got a lot going for you, lady.”

And I’d say, yeah, you’re right. But the thing that’s annoying is that no matter what else you have going on in your life, it feels truly terrible to look down at your body and not feel good about it. I feel that way every day. And I’ve had it.

A few kids ago, I was in a much worse place. I’d had two boys 18 months apart, and had gained 60 pounds from the pregnancies. I was extremely unhappy in my marriage and desperately casting about for the guts to leave my husband.

And I decided to take control.

I told my husband I was leaving, and hired a lawyer. And I bought myself some sports bras.

Working out at the JCC was easy, and gave me the added incentive of some time to myself, since the kids would be taken care of by a woman in babysitting there that I trusted. I knew no one in town and therefore didn’t care how I looked while working out. Sometimes I’d all but cry as I sweated away on the exercise bike, thinking about how my life had fallen apart at the seams.

“Why are you even bothering to go to the gym?” my then-husband said to me at one point. “No one is ever going to see you naked again.” I didn’t answer, just gritted my teeth and redoubled my efforts.

I worked hard. It wasn’t a chore as much as it was climbing a mountain. I had no ideal weight in mind, and had no aspiration to be a size zero. I wanted to be healthy and happy in my body.

And that’s what happened. I bought new clothes, and met new people, and felt beautiful again.

I’ve never been and never will be a stick figure: I’m a curvy Jewess, and that’s just how it is. I went out with at least one guy who, after swimming with me in my parents’ pool, told me he “would rather be with someone skinnier.” And I gave him that opportunity.

And then I met the man I love and married.

And now here I am again.

Now, I have neither someone else’s mean words or the prospect of new eyes on my body to motivate me. Now, my motivation is only going to come from one source: me. Now it’s a lot harder. But having done it before, now I know I can do it again.

I learned my lesson then and need to re-teach it to myself now. The lesson is not the bullshit axiom “There’s nothing that tastes as great as skinny feels”–because that person has obviously never eaten homemade churros with dulce de leche dipping sauce, accompanied by an amazingly delicious margarita. And I pity them.

The lesson is simple: the way you look is fleeting, but the way you feel is not. I know from my past, that distant time when I was in pants that zipped, that by taking responsibility for myself, the long-term results will make me happier to be in my own skin and back in my “happy clothes” again.

And that’s whatever the number on the scale says.

For more on post-baby body struggles, check out Why Am I at War with My Post-Baby Body? and Feeling Thin & Looking Thin–Not the Same

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