I've had a love/hate relationship with my body, which is as heartbreaking as it is undeniable. I loved my body in high school, and valued its abilities above all else. Then I endured a horrific accident and seven knee surgeries and, suddenly, my body couldn't do what I wanted it to do, so I started focusing on how it looked. That mindset continued all through my life and until I gave birth to my son. Not long after his arrival, I started to see my body for what it really was, and breastfeeding helped me love my body even more than I ever did before.
When you do something as exhausting and incredible and difficult and wonderful as carrying a pregnancy and giving birth and sustaining another human life with your body, you tend to view the vessel that carries your brain around, well, differently. I no longer cared about how my body looked; at least, not when I was juxtaposing my outward appearance with the functionality and capabilities of my actual self. Sure, I wanted to feel good and look good, but for me. I had fallen in love with my body again, and was essentially that care-free girl in high school, valuing my amazing form because of the wonderful things it can do, and not how it was viewed by others or whether or not it was living up to some unrealistic beauty standard set by an unforgiving and shallow culture.
Body positivity and self-love are constant works in progress, mostly because our society preaches the exact opposite with reckless abandon. However, I feel like I am a few steps ahead, now that I have successfully breastfed my son. Our breastfeeding journey is over, but my relationship with my body is really just beginning, and breastfeeding reminded me that I need and should love my body, always.