The struggle of body image

Like so many others, I struggle with loving my body despite its appearance. After having grown and fed two children, my body doesn’t look the way it used to. I’ve put on 20 lbs, my breasts are droopier and less full than they once were, my belly is soft, criss-crossed with stretch marks and permanently altered by the horizontal scar that allowed my oldest son to be born quickly and safely.

I strive to see all of these changes as miraculous. I want to be grateful for the ability to carry and nourish my precious children. I want to wear my years and my experiences proudly, with acceptance and self-love. I want to honor my priorities and my choices that have put time with my kids and enjoying my life over starvation diets and endless hours spent at the gym.

I try, and I struggle. I compare myself to others — both those that I know personally and those I see in the media. I beat myself up emotionally for lacking in physical perfection. I waste so much mental energy on figuring out how to be the mom that I am as well as the woman that I wish I was.

My internal negativity is reinforced by others. My body is not appreciated and revered as my wiser mind tells me it should be. I am seen as fat rather than fertile, lazy rather than loving, uninterested in my physical appearance rather than unwilling to compromise my values.

If my husband valiantly saved one of our children from a fire, or from an accident, and came away scarred, I would see those wounds each day and love him more fiercely for them. Each one would be a mark of his devotion as a father and a reminder of the awesome man that he is. It would not detract from his appearance, nor from his value, in my eyes. Rather, I would find him more attractive. And others would, upon knowing the story, respect and admire his loving sacrifice for the sake of his family.

So why aren’t we, as mothers, seen that same way? Why aren’t the ravages done to our bodies seen as battle scars incurred in the protection of and devotion to our children and our families?

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