“What your figure will be, goodness knows,” Ma warned her. “When I was married, your Pa could span my waist with his two hands.”
“He can’t now,” Laura answered, a little saucily. “And he seems to like you.” (from Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder)
This one made me smile. I’m glad my husband still seems to like me despite my greatly increased waistline. The bigger challenge for me is to still like myself (I mean, my physical self). It’s hard at times to accept a body that changes, even harder at a time when the public ideal is either skeletal thinness or body builder type muscle. It leaves the rest of us working incredibly hard to maintain something that at least looks okay when fully clothed.
I remember going to a museum a few years ago and seeing plaster castes of Renaissance era Greek statues–beautiful nudes of full-figured women lounging or standing. I couldn’t see any of their ribs, nor did a single one have defined abdominal muscles, but they were beautiful. At the time they were sculpted, they were the ideal of womanly beauty. In fact, many of them were the artists’ depictions of goddesses. It occurred to me then that the modern ideal of womanly beauty would look almost grotesque on a sculpture of that style. But that doesn’t keep me from yearning for a thinner, leaner figure.
I struggle to see the beauty in what my body has become–a heck of a lot closer to a Greek statue woman than a modern swimsuit model. I read a question the other day that made me laugh and sigh: If you could go back to your childhood or teenage years what is one thing you would do? My answer: I would wear shorts every warm day and appreciate my darling, thin, gorgeous legs. But I actually can’t go back to the summers when I had darling legs and wasted them, so what do I do with where I am now?
I take an honest look and force myself to be appreciative. My body has been good to me. It has done some incredible work. It grew up. It carried a baby (quite a good-sized one) and endured surgery to give him a safe entrance into the world. It provided his nourishment for the better part of his first two years. Now it is carrying another baby. It will endure another surgery in a few months. It is nurturing and growing an entire human who is growing at a remarkable rate. Once again it will produce milk to sustain the life of my child. My body is tired, but it keeps on giving to the baby. It is preparing for the next phase even as it does the good work of the phase we are in. It has a scar. It has more padding than it used to. But it’s a good body. It’s the body of a woman, not the body of a child. I’m actually pretty proud of it…even if I can’t wear shorts with much confidence anymore.
(Seriously, if you are sixteen years old, WEAR SHORTS every day that is warm enough!!!)