I Don’t Care If You Love My Post-Baby Body

by Dina Leygerman

Our society is broken. Shattered, actually. It values beauty over substance, money over ethics, and popularity over intellect. It glorifies pregnancy but downplays the fragility of postpartum. Our society embraces women who "bounce back" and wear their "pre-pregnancy jeans" immediately postpartum, forces women to constantly evaluate and judge themselves and each other, and creates cliques and feelings of superiority and inferiority. In other words, it fosters feelings of inadequacy. While the postpartum body is most vulnerable to critique, lucky for me, I don't care if society loves my postpartum body. I don't care what anyone has to say about my body ever, in fact. Sure, people will talk, but their talk has no significance on my life and happiness.

I was naively under the impression that once I left high school, the cliques and criticism would stop. I had absolutely no idea that judgement actually increases in both frequency and intensity as you age and gain experience. Some of us are more fragile than others. Some of us take others' critique close to heart. We hear the whispers, we feel the judgmental eyes, we internalize those words, and then we turn them into self-hate.

I'm friends with some of the most beautiful, intelligent, and kind women, and they never stop talking about how "fat" they are. It's as if we have all been programmed (we have been, btw) to hate ourselves. I say enough. Enough with the self-deprecation, because it's not cute, it's not trendy, and it has absolutely no positive impact on anyone. It's time to love our bodies, and concentrate on something more productive than self-hate.

Because My Body Just Performed A Miracle

I'm sorry, but did my body not just create a life? Can we just stop for a moment and reflect on that? Have we really gotten to the point where the fact that women literally create and foster life is just "a thing we do"? Are we so vain that all we can focus on is how a woman looks pre- and post-pregnancy (and even during) and not on the fact that she just birthed a human being?

Well, my body just created a life, and now it is nourishing that life. So, I love it for what it's capable of.

Because My Body Just Healed Itself

Do you know what my body had to do in order to create life? In addition to all of the talked about pregnancy symptoms, the body must physically prepare for birth. So, the spinal curvature realigns to maintain balance and the ligaments that hold the pelvic bones together loosen to prepare for labor. The entire body adjusts in order to create, sustain, and deliver a life. That is incredible. And once that baby is born, the body then heals itself. Postpartum bodies are magical.

Because My Body Is Real

See, fortunately for me, I don't live in the spotlight. I am not famous and I'm not a celebrity. I don't need to show the world my photo-shopped thighs and my six-pack abs. I have the luxury of being real. My body has stretch marks and cellulite, and the weight is disproportionately spread throughout various parts of it. My body is as real as it gets. And you know what? That makes me happy.

Because My Body Is Sexy

Have you ever watched a woman rock her child to sleep? Have you watched her feed that baby? Comfort that baby? Protect that baby? The woman's body does all of that and that is freaking sexy. There is nothing sexier than watching your partner care for your children, what does it matter what the body looks like?

Because My Body Is Strong

My body can create a human, carry that human for 10 months, birth that human, feed that human, and then comfort that human for the rest of that human's life. My body can stretch and then shrink and then stretch again and then shrink again. My body can nurse a toddler, while holding a pre-schooler. My body can produce milk while running on a treadmill or lifting weights.

Because My Body Is Nourishing

My body creates milk for my children. It just knows to do that. For me, that nourishment lasted 8-10 months, at which point my body decided it was done producing milk. However, some women feed their children well into the toddler years. That is incredible. Our bodies are amazing.

Because My Body Provides Comfort

When my daughter hugs me, she says I'm fluffy and comfortable. That phrase used to conjure up some self-loathing issues for me, but now it just makes me smile. She's right, my body is fluffy, and I'm glad she finds comfort in that.

Because It Doesn't Exist For You To Love

I can't sit here and tell you I was in love with my postpartum body. That would be a lie. It took me a while to appreciate it, and I ignored it for a while as a result. It took me about a year to come to terms with the fact that it has permanently changed.

But you know what? My body makes me feel like a woman. My body is no longer a girl's body; it's gained experience and life. My body has been through weight gain and weight loss. It carried and birthed two children. It went through surgery. It grew strong. My body isn't perfect according to societal standards, but it's near perfect according to mine. So, no, I don't care if you love my my body, because you don't have to live in it. It's not for you to love.