Nowadays it's common knowledge that those of us socialized as women are held to a ridiculous and unattainable standard of beauty for all of our lives. Those standards can become particularly vicious after we give birth. Hopefully, our partners don't get on that bandwagon, and I know mine didn't. He encourages me to be proud of my beautiful postpartum body, even when that's hard. However, and honestly, my partner loving my postpartum body didn't make a damn bit of difference.
According to the film and accompanying movement, MissRepresentation, women and girls in the US are trained that their value lies in their beauty. If you're like me, you are calling bullsh*t on this archaic tradition that has far outstayed its welcome in our culture. Every person has value, regardless of how they're perceived by others and especially regardless of their perceived attractiveness. Of course, celebrating yourself for your beauty is fine. Rejecting the notion that women are more than their so-called sex-appeal isn't about telling women what they can and can't do with their bodies. That's the whole point. We are more than our bodies, our sex appeal, and our beauty. We are worthy human beings in our own right.
When I'm postpartum there is so much more to focus on than whether my body is sexually desirable. According to the National Institutes of Health, pregnancy is dangerous. How about celebrating the feat my body just accomplished? How about acknowledging that my loving relationship with my partner is about more than whether we are hot for each other's bodies at every moment of every day? When I say my partner loving my postpartum body didn't make a difference, it's not because I don't want my partner to find me attractive. It's because I am still worthy, even if my partner doesn't find me attractive.
Because I'm More Than My Body
I am a complex human being filled with thoughts, ideas, passions, and motivations. For many of the years between 10 years old and 26 years old, I was relatively disconnected from my body. As a result, I spent a lot of time cultivating those other parts of me. They're pretty cool, and I think you should totally meet them sometime.
Because I Worked Really Hard To Love This Body
Through chronic childhood emotional and sexual abuse, not to mention consistent gaslighting, it's a damn miracle that I'm able to not only love my body, but actively celebrate everything about, within, and around it. When it comes to my postpartum body, my body-love is the only one that matters.
Because If I Cared That He Loved It, I'd Have To Care If He Hated It
I can not care if someone hates my body. I spent too many years caring about other people's thoughts about me and my body to go back to that hateful, second-guessing, anxiety-riddled dynamic.
So, you see, it's really quite simple. I can't care if my partner consistently loves my body, because then I'd also have to care if and when he ever hated it. That's self-destructive.
Because Sometimes I Don't Believe Him Anyway
Most of this list will be empowering, because I've worked really hard to get to body empowerment. However, this particular point is still true, and always will be. As a survivor of sexual abuse, and a chronic major depression disorder sufferer, when I'm in the worst of my self-hating sh*t that is mental illness, my partner loving my postpartum body will do one of two things:
1) Make me beat myself up for being ungrateful for all of my blessings; or
2) Wonder why he insists on lying to me just to make me feel better.
Spoiler alert: depression lies.
Because It's Not My Obligation To Be Beautiful
Contrary to popular belief, women don't actually owe anyone their beauty. As a society, we've taught girls that they're they're supposed to be pretty in order to be valuable. Looking good, dressing up, wearing makeup, and primping our hair is what our culture calls "taking care of yourself." Take a minute to think on how f*cked up that is. My society tells me that taking care of myself means spending all of my time and money looking pretty?!
False. Taking care of myself is actually doing things that make me feel good in my body. Eating nutritious foods, doing inspirational and motivating physical activity, going to the doctor for regular check-ups, and setting boundaries are things I do to actually take care of myself. Physical beauty? That's really besides the point.
Because My Partner Loving My Body Is Not The Point
My postpartum body has dips, valleys, and soft squishables that it didn't used to. I even now claim a pair of lopsided boobs, you guys. These hills and valleys tell my body's story. I earned them. However, how my body has changed, and whether it's pleasing to my partner, is not the point.
The point is: I am beautiful whether or not I possess the narrow set of white, cisgender, thin, able-bodied physical traits approved by our culture. I worked ridiculously hard to get to the place where I can say, "In my body is a good place to be." Postpartum or not, I f*cking love myself. That is what matters.