BEST OF THE MESS ◽ ENCOURAGEMENT
Now that everyone's New Year's resolutions are set, and usually they are surrounding fitness or weight loss, I want to take a step back and talk about a big frustration I've experienced as part of my baby making and weight loss journey.
As I started to put on the pounds with my first pregnancy, I could tell a shift in how people would interact with me. Some would say things like, "Don't worry, the pounds fly off when you start breastfeeding," or "You still look great..." What do you mean by "still?" I knew exactly what they were talking about and why they would make these comments. But let me tell you, it was freaking CONSTANT.
Then about seven months after my second son, once the pounds started coming off, another shift in those same interactions happened. I would hear, "Oh WOW, you look great!" And "You look so skinny!!" Or "You've lost a lot of weight, I can tell! Like wow, a lot!"
Cue red face. Cue eye roll. Cue gag emoji. I still get these comments literally every single time I see certain people. It makes me grind my teeth. It truly, truly irks me. This is one of my, what Marcy calls, "whiny windows." It bugs me for so many reasons, but maybe not for the reasons you might think.
Now let me take a step back and say I do not think these people have meant harm by these comments.
I do think they just have a little bit of an unhealthy perspective of the human body and what a healthy boundary should look like in regards to commenting on another woman's body. Because yes. Most of these comments came from other women.
Some of you may be reading this and wondering why any of those comments would cause frustration. "They were being nice, encouraging." That's okay. Some of you may be triggered right now and all frustrated right alongside me because you see where I'm coming from already. So let me share that perspective...
First, it is a natural, God-given fact that a women's body has to grow and expand to hold another life. To expand on that, if you see a pregnant woman, her body is going through unspeakable changes and every woman is affected by that differently. Some, like myself, are so sick during pregnancy that it literally takes all their energy just to go to the bathroom. Forget the hair. Forget the makeup. Forget making any of the healthy meals her body has become used to. Forget the workouts she had on lockdown. The pounds compile from there.
Second, not all women lose weight during breastfeeding. In fact many women, such as myself, have the complete opposite effect. Our body holds onto the fat because it is now fuel to producing that precious milk. That weight doesn't budge until the milk is gone.
But most importantly, why is it so acceptable for one of the first things we notice about another woman, one of the first things we feel comfortable commenting on, is her weight?
Why do we feel okay blurting out that, "Oh you'll lose that baby weight when you breastfeed?" When we don't actually know that to be true?
Why is it that we can look at a woman who has ALWAYS been beautiful, and tell her in admiration, now that she's lost a bit of weight, that she looks "so skinny" or be astonished with how "great" she looks because she's lost some weight?
We feel comfortable with this because it is a cultural norm. And it's a cultural norm that I want to reject. These comments may seem flattering, and I always accept them graciously. But in reality, they grind my darn gears because my fitness journey is for MY health, not for your visual pleasure. When you comment on how much weight I've lost, it just makes me feel doomed because no, I'm not done having kids. And now the next time I start packing on the pounds, I'm going to know what you really think about how I look.
Then I see my friends who are still on their weight loss journeys or maybe those that aren't in a place to prioritize that right now in their life. Or those that have health conditions that make weight loss near impossible. Or those that really just do not care. They are gorgeous to me, but I can't help but see their faces drop when you comment on my "success." Then I see my friends who battle with eating disorders, who hear these comments and are triggered again into a black hole that they just fought out of.
I didn't want to make anyone feel bad by writing this. I needed to write this because I want us all to think a little bit more the next time we go to make these kinds of comments. The way we look is not everything. The weight our friend, co-worker, or family member is losing or gaining is not about us, nor is it for us. There are many other ways to have a conversation, and it does not need to be and really should never be about their most recent body changes. Don't feel bad if you've made these comments to a loved one, just recognize how it may not be the best approach going forward.
God bless, love y'all!