There is an unspoken yet nonetheless pervasive expectation that women's bodies are not supposed to age, or change, and the evidence that they've done so is somehow a failure on their part. This is almost never as true as when we're talking about pregnancy and postpartum recovery. That's why Carrie Underwood's post about "bouncing back" after giving birth offers such a healthy, and necessary, perspective on what it means to accept yourself no matter what stage of life you're in.
Underwood — who welcomed her second son, Jacob Fisher, with her husband Mike Fisher earlier this year, according to Country Living — is preparing to return to music, both to tour and record again. Weeks after her delivery, she opened up on Instagram on Tuesday about how much pressure she felt to "bounce back." Or in other, more honest words, return to the exact physique she had before growing and housing an entire human being for the better part of a year.
"I’m going to be honest, 'bouncing back' after having Jacob has been much more difficult than after I had Isaiah and I’ve been pretty hard on myself lately," she began in the post. "I go into the gym and I can’t run as fast or as far. I can’t lift as much weight or do as many reps as I could a year ago. I just want to feel like myself again... for my body to feel the way that I know it can."
Underwood continued by explaining that she has vowed to appreciate what her body is capable of — namely, housing then nourishing her son for the past year — as opposed to comparing it to the past.
"As I prepare for red carpets and for life on tour, right now I make a promise to myself to start appreciating what my body CAN do and stop focusing on what it can’t," she wrote on Instagram, adding:
I promise to stop analyzing every angle and every curve and every pound and every meal. I’m going to keep staying the path because it is a journey and as long as I’m always working towards my goals, one day I’ll reach them. I’m going to take it day by day, smile at the girl in the mirror, and work out because I love this body and all it has done and will continue to do!
Fans and followers immediately started sharing their support, as well as their own stories of pregnancy, postpartum and self-acceptance. "I too have 2 kids under 2 and my body has not been the same the second pregnancy," one comment read. "I also nursed the second one longer and she required a lot more milk than my first child. It’s amazing what our bodies can do and it will take time."
"You are beautiful on the inside and out! Its [sic] so amazing what our bodies are capable of (growing our babies and pushing ourselves after in ways we couldn’t imagine to get back where we want to be)" said another.
Underwood shared a similar sentiment when she gave birth to Isaiah back in 2015. “We place so much emphasis on looks and less on how you feel and how your engine’s running,” she said of how pregnancy and childbirth has given her a new perspective on her body, according to People. “I think if we did more of that, more people would be more accepting and probably even treat their bodies better.”
Regardless, it's clear that Underwood is cutting through the noise and finding real self-acceptance and appreciation for all that she has been able to do. Understandably, her sentiments are being well-received by her audience, as they should be.
The world needs more people like Underwood reminding us that it's OK to be human, it's OK to be in flux, it's OK to try and fail, and it's OK to love ourselves unconditionally through it all.