I think, as someone who really loves pretty clothes, I’m supposed to have been one of those women who were impeccably dressed throughout their pregnancies and didn’t have the slightest problem with body image the year after. It is to laugh.
After both of my kids were born, I was wearing my pregnancy shorts (darn things are the most comfortable clothes in the free world) until they grew holes. Why? Well, the same reason every other woman does it – because my weight hadn’t dropped and I didn’t “deserve” pretty things – and because I just didn’t have time to mess with new clothes, didn’t know what my size was, etc. And anyway I was always covered with baby byproducts. (Ah, milk stained shirts – I remember you with no fondness whatsoever).
And since I’ve had my babies, frankly I haven’t dropped to my pre-pregnancy weight. Uh, my babies are 14 and 10. I don’t think you call it baby weight at this point. Oh, and in there I became permanently halt – which means that sensible shoes are a life sentence.
I *totally* get that sometimes you really don’t like what you see in the mirror. Do you think I like what I see? Nope! In fact I’m invariably startled – like, “who is this woman and what has she done with the woman I expected to see?” Oh, I get it.
But. Also somewhere in there I gave up on waiting until I got thin again to make myself pretty. I can’t make myself a size 2 overnight – but I can fix my hair nicely. I can’t erase my wrinkles – but I can put on a little lipstick. I can’t take the scars off my foot – but I can wear a pretty dress.
And this matters. Because it *does* pick up your mood to see yourself neatly dressed. You do feel more able to face the challenges of the day when you’re put together and look like the person inside your head. (The contrary is, regrettably, more strongly true – that when you see yourself in the old holey sweatpants, you feel more down about yourself and act down). The choice of what you wear starts a cycle – and that cycle can be positive or negative, up to you.
It matters to other people too. It matters to your husband, it matters to your children, it matters to people around you. Maybe the pretty sundress you chose to wear to the store today brought a smile to an old man’s face – was that worth the five minutes extra dressing time? Because humans are visual creatures, your effort at making yourself more visually pleasant affects the people who see you.
Today a little girl – perhaps 2 or 3 – walked up to me and touched my skirt, saying to her grandmother, “she looks like a princess!”. The little girl made MY day (and gave me reason to reconsider the evils of wearing quilting cotton as clothing), that’s for sure. This skirt (red roses) gets me compliments every time I put it on. It pleases the eye.
It’s such a simple thing, putting on a pretty skirt instead of an old pair of shorts, a neatly ironed blouse rather than a faded tshirt… but it can bring a little grace to the world.
So – don’t wait. Dress the body you have today, and treat it with respect. Maybe that respect and positivity will result in more exercise and the consumption of salads, and maybe it won’t. You’re still winning, if you bring some light to the world.