Vulnerability is the new black and the Internet is a handy blank slate on which to pen our deepest fears and frustrations. So here goes: I hate my post-baby body.
Okay, let’s back up so I can give due appreciation to this fleshy place I’ve been living in for 38 years. The body is healthy, thank God. The body works fine – better than fine, actually, again thankfully, when it comes to producing funny, smart and healthy kids (pu pu pu).That stands to reason, as I do have what can be charitably called “birthing hips.” Yes, I’m a short curvy Jewess built for life in the shtetl. Slap a kerchief on my head and I’ll start singing “Matchmaker, Matchmaker.” I love to cook, host meals for many people, and eat – but that’s not really the problem.
No, the “problem” is one you’ve all had. I had an awesome baby six months ago, and while we all applaud her weight gain on the scale at pediatricians’ visits, I don’t feel quite the same about my own. The weight gain wasn’t even that much. It was somewhere around 20 pounds, which is quite normal, if by “normal” we mean “the kind of thing that makes me cry in my parked car outside the gym.”
There are other indignities besides the weight, of course. Throw in the fact that I have some sort of distorted non-tasty kreplach parked on my stomach that refuses to get off. Add the fact that I refuse to go buy pants in a size I’d rather not be, so my options are to either go naked (humiliating, and it’s 34 degrees here in NJ) or to wear stretchy maternity-esque pants. Tres chic. It all adds up to a not-so-fresh feeling.
Look, I’m sure Beyonce is out there looking fit and fabulous a few weeks after giving birth as though nothing ever happened to her. And that’s just swell. But that’s the reason I decided a few years ago to give up my guilty pleasure of Us Weekly: I knew that crap about stars instantaneously shrinking back to their pre-baby selves would drive me insane. In my world, that kind of thing takes a lot of time and a lot of hard work. And it’s frustrating, depressing and tiring.
Let’s face reality, ugly though it may be. I’m almost 10 years older than Beyonce, have had three children and have never – not even when I was 16 – had a body like hers, so the likelihood I’ll develop one now is slim (ha). Obviously, we do ourselves a disservice when we compare ourselves to people whose entire livelihood depends on how they look (and who probably work with people with an intimate knowledge of Photoshop). And yet.
The killer is, the person I really want to look like isn’t Beyonce – it’s myself. I want to be the person who wore all those cute dresses and jeans that are in my closet, where they’ve been for about a year, gathering dust. I want to be someone who gets excited seeing an outfit in a store, not depressed because I don’t want to buy it until I’m back to my own real size. I want to feel attractive again.
So now I have a trainer, and I dread seeing her meet with her on a regular basis. She’s sweet and has had her own baby and understands what I’m going through – much better than my first go-round with the unempathetic stick figure of a trainer. When I look around at the athletic bodies of people at the gym, of course, I feel even worse about myself, a non-athlete virtually since birth. I’m convinced all the hotties are looking at me and thinking, “Wow, she comes here a lot, why isn’t it working?” — so I just focus on my iPod and work as hard as I can.
I try to remember to write down what I eat, fighting my endless impulses to sabotage myself. The dormant lawyer in me seems to think that not writing it down means I didn’t eat it, so then I go for days not doing it. Yes, the self-destructive mechanisms are elaborate in this one.
Oh – and I try to avoid the mirror. Which makes me sad in and of itself, because I remember when I thought I wasn’t half bad.
I didn’t even want to write about this because it’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing generally, I suppose, not to be the person that you want to be or envision yourself to be. But the only person who can change who I am is me. Maybe putting myself out there – by making myself vulnerable, exposing my insecurities – will force my hand to do something about it.
Please send suggestions and motivation my way.