Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Eternal Thinness Pursuit for New Mothers

Most women have a problem with their weight after they give birth but it should never detract from the miracle of birth or how a woman feels about herself. Let us look at an example of how many women feel about their bodies after they have give birth.

She feels fat. She thinks she looks fat. Everyone that she knows tells her that she is not fat. We all tell her that she looks great. But still she does not believe us, any one of us. She feels fat and therefore she looks in the mirror and sees fat. It is a vicious cycle that seems to have no ending.

The truth is that her body is not the problem, her own perception of her body is. She sees the way her body looks now, one year after giving birth and she sneers in disgust at her reflection. She shuns at the image that refuses to go away. Her full-length mirror is not showing her what she wants to see more than anything- a slimmer body. Her mind and body connection do not match. Her mind has not caught up with the changes that have taken place in her body. She liked what she looked like then, as opposed to what she looks like now.

She weighed in at approximately one hundred twenty pounds when she got pregnant with her daughter. Most of the weight she put on around her middle. Overall we all thought she looked healthier pregnant than she did before. She was much too thin for her height and frame before she got pregnant. She took care of herself extremely well during the pregnancy. Her labor and delivery were not as bad as some women face.

She lost some of the weight very quickly after Jessica was born but a great deal remained. She was also bothered by the many stretch marks that marred her body and served as a constant reminder of the changes her body had undergone. Her mother told her that she had so many stretch marks because she had been so thin. If she had weighed more when she had first gotten pregnant then her skin would not have had to stretch quite so far. She is not convinced that her mother is completely right although this does make a certain amount of sense.

She developed a problem with bloating after Jessica came along and she was no longer able to fit into any of the size eight pants that she had worn comfortably before the baby. How discouraged this caused her to become with herself! In abject horror she realized that this might be a problem that would plague her on a long-term basis.

She wants to be young again (twentysomething young again to be exact). She earnestly buys into the media idea of what a sexy, desirable woman in modern society should look like. She is a victim of the Cosmo era and what she looks like now does not cut it in her mind. She thinks that her weight now is a crime against nature, a crime of unimaginable proportions.

Surprisingly what she fails to realize is that the average woman is not pencil thin. Just look around, it is clear to see. Indeed while model-like women may photograph very well, in the brilliant light of reality (and everyday normalcy) they stand out as looking peculiar and deeply undernourished. Most women are at least a size twelve and up. Does she know this? How can she not? Does she not read the many articles that have been written on this very topic? Everyone else that knows her seems to know this all too well.

For many women the pursuit of eternal thinness is a proverbial trip to fantasyland. Put another way, it will never happen for them, ever, no matter what they do to make it so. Regardless whether it is pregnancy, a change in lifestyle or a drop in metabolism as our body ages, most of us women will never be as thin at thirty or thirty-five, or forty and so on as we were at twenty years of age. There are some women who were never thin to begin with. Some people can never be thin, period- end of discussion. Some women battle with weight concerns their entire lives. It is tragic how much a woman lets her sense of self-worth be so greatly affected by what number happens to show up on the scale.

Her husband has no complaints about what her body looks like. In fact she was fortunate enough to marry a man who loves her unconditionally. He thinks she is as beautiful today as she was before their daughter was born. He is incredibly happy with his family- a lovely wife and a healthy, beautiful daughter.

Not all men think thin women are the height of attractiveness. One man I know referred to the thin women among us as looking like anorectic boys. Another one said to me that he wants to hold a woman with some meat on her bones. Yet another one told me that he does not want to go to bed at night with a skeleton in place of a woman. Real women have breasts and hips and a derriere. Real women fill out an evening gown; they do not get lost in it. They are not like little girls playing dress up big ladies garments. They should be able to fit into these clothes today with no problem at all.

She refuses to be consoled by any of this. Her obsession about her size rages on. She tortures herself with every new diet that comes along and spends entirely too much precious time agonizing over the fact that she did not go to the gym yesterday or she should not have had a piece of pie for dessert at suppertime. I can hardly stand her weight rants anymore. I told her that I do not want to hear about it anymore. I need a much-needed mental break from this overworked topic of conversation. She has a daughter. We have much more important things to talk about.

I am not eternally thin. I have not been my idea of thin since I was twenty- five years old. I exercise on a regular basis, I eat very well, I am toned but I will probably never fit into teensy weensy little girl sizes ever again. Does this bother me? A little. Am I consumed with this knowledge and does it occupy a lot of my thinking? Absolutely not!! I am happy with myself just the way I am. Anyone who thinks that perhaps I would look better if I was ten to fifteen pounds lighter (or thereabouts) can keep their opinion to themselves. I am just fine and I do not need to be told any different. Now if only I could convince my friend of the same.

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