"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

27 February 2015

Mama Ain't No Svelte 20-Something

I just have to start off this post by begging you to please not EVER use "ain't" in real conversation with me. It would hurt my grammar-loving heart.

Okay, that said, earlier today, I posted on my FB:
By dinnertime tonight, I had numerous comments on there, most of which expressed indignation.

The thing is, I thought the entire situation was just so awkward that it was really funny. I mean, I'm fairly certain that her intentions were good and that she meant nothing malicious by what she said. Nonetheless, it was all rather weird and surreal. The friend I had been talking to said that in the moment, she was thinking, "I can't believe this is happening!" The day it happened, I told my husband about it, and we both genuinely laughed. I'm still chuckling about it. And that's why I shared it.

Maybe I just have a weird sense of humor?

But I found it fascinating that so many friends (mostly women) responded, and it got me thinking about social mores and culturally accepted norms.

The thing is, as much as it is commonly expected that you don't talk about people's weight, it is just as commonly expected that losing the weight you gain during pregnancy is a goal for all women.

But why is that?

Today, when I was chatting with our pediatrician about the kids, and B's rambunctious little boy-ness in particular, he pointed out that we live in such an artificial society, where we ride in cars everywhere, stay indoors much of the time, and don't really do much physical labor. We try to make up for that by going to gyms to "work out," but he said that really, if we lived in a more natural environment, a four-year-old little boy would be outside chasing rabbits and running through fields much of the day.

Relating to my awkward situation: I initially wondered if we all lived in a world where physical labor was just a part of our daily lives, if "losing the baby weight" wouldn't even be on our radar because it would just naturally come off. But then I wondered, would losing the baby weight even be a consideration in a world where manual labor is the norm and you don't have expectations to keep looking like you're in your early 20s for the rest of your life?

My body HAS changed in the past decade. Things are ... squishier. Parts aren't where they used to be.

But I'm really okay with that, for the most part. Because the thing is, this body has given birth to two beautiful babies, and that's exactly what it looks like. No, I can't run an easy five miles on a daily basis anymore. No, I cannot do push ups to save my life. And crunches? I don't think I could find my abs.

This body is the body of a 30-something mother.

I said "for the most part" because I hear that voice sometimes, too. The voice that says, "When are you going to lose that baby weight?" But you know what? My life right now is busy and rich, and honestly, spending hours at the gym to "lose that baby weight" really isn't high on my list of priorities.

See, I think we too often fall into the mindset that unless we're all slim and svelte, we're "obese," but that's just not true. The opposite of "thin" might be "fat," just like we all learned as preschoolers, but the fact is, there is quite a bit of middle ground there, into which most of us fall. Yes, I could benefit from dropping a few pounds, but my desire for that is because I know my body would be healthier that way, NOT because I want to "lose the baby weight." I want my body to be stronger, not necessarily skinnier. Because a stronger body is one that can serve God, my family, and this world better. A skinny body is just that. Skinny.

I know this may seem like "potay-toes" and "potah-toes" to some, but honestly, I feel like our culture sends such contradictory messages to women. Healthy does not mean thin, and while I think we all know that cerebrally, I don't think we embrace that fully. Because if we did, there wouldn't be expectations that post-baby bodies will someday return to pre-baby bodies, would there?

1 comment:

  1. Wow- how rude. I remember a friend talking about body image after she had her first baby- and saying to me, "I'm never going to complain about how my body looks again...look at what it just did." Created another human being, birthed that human being, made food and fed that human life. I'm curious whether the person who made that comment has any children herself...