Our diet culture projects an ideal that attaining a ‘perfect’ body is required for women, no matter what their life circumstance. No mother should ever need to defend her value based on the size she is at.
The mainstream message in our culture today is one that is defined by dieting, promoting the idea that our bodies are not acceptable unless they meet an impossible standard. The truth is that less than 5 percent of women in America naturally resemble the body type that is prominently portrayed in our media today.
That leaves a majority of women feeling conflicted between their own bodies and an idea of what is desirable.
Diet culture and media aside, countless women would attest to feeling insecure or unhappy in their own bodies, uncomfortable with their current weight, or desperate to change something about their body size. For mothers especially, body size and weight changes continuously as they embark through different seasons of motherhood, from pregnancy to postpartum and beyond. The natural changes their bodies go through can be frustrating, and an immediate reaction to this is the desire for control; hence – the reason why so many women fall back on dieting as an attempt to manage their weight or change their body size. The more important question to ask, however, is not why your body isn’t at a certain weight (whatever that number might be for you).
Rather, it’s asking yourself: what are you sacrificing in the pursuit of weight loss?
The majority of women who are viciously fighting against their body’s size and weight with dieting tactics are sabotaging the overall quality of their life. This includes self-care, mental and emotional health, relationships, and more. Mothers in particular, may find themselves missing out on important moments with their children and families, or even communicating a message to their children that their bodies are not acceptable as they are.
So what is a mama to do?
How can you practice acceptance of your body at its natural weight or the size that it is currently at? How can you begin to shift the paradigm of health in your mind to one that is focused on connecting to and respecting your body rather than fighting against it?
It is essential to remember that health encompasses so much more than just the physical; our overall health is defined by our emotional, mental, spiritual and physical well-being. If one or more aspect of our overall health is sacrificed for the other, we cannot truly thrive in life. If rigid eating or exercise practices are imposed on yourself for the sake of reaching a certain number on the scale, it is quite possible that your body is not intended to naturally fall at that weight.
Another important question to consider is how would you live your life differently if weight were not an issue?
Where do you find yourself holding back for fear of your body size or weight? Are you waiting until you reach a certain weight or size before you allow yourself to do certain things in life? In doing so, how much precious time are you losing, when you could be truly living by embracing and respecting the body you are in now?
Don’t hold your breath any longer or put your life on hold.
You have permission and every divine right to live wholly and unapologetically in your body, no matter your size or how much you weigh. You deserve to respect yourself and treat your body with every kindness in the world, because your life is valuable and worthy. There is no number on the scale or size of clothing that can ever change that, so let go of those false promises.
If you have been at war with your body, be willing to extend compassion and grace to yourself to begin a new way of living that can start now. Body acceptance is a journey that happens gradually, and with a commitment to mother yourself with great care and respect.
Your current weight or body size may not fit into the standard that our society says is “acceptable”; but this does not mean that you need to mistreat yourself in attempt to fit into a mold that was never meant for you in the first place. Begin making choices that support body kindness, such as intuitive eating, self-care, and mindful exercise, and you can slowly begin reconnecting with your one and only body that has carried you and protected you through life thus far.
Nurture and take care of yourself mama, you don’t deserve anything less.
Adapted from the original article.
Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC is a San Diego-based private practice dietitian helping others embrace their health for themselves and their loved ones. Focusing on maternal/child health and eating disorders, Crystal creates the nurturing, safe environment that is needed to help guide individuals towards a peaceful relationship with food and their bodies.