Archive for the ‘Body Image’ Category

Armpits4August. It’s a thing.   Leave a comment

So, this came up.
Most of what I could say is in this article. Please do read.

What I’m going to do is tell you why I don’t shave, and it’s not because I’m a feminist.
It’s because I’m a mother.

I first stopped shaving when I was 3 months pregnant and nearly slipped in the shower. Anyone who has a baby knows how terrifying those first few months are. There is a constant, and somewhat valid, fear of doing something and loosing the baby. Shaving became one of those things I just did not have the guts to do.
I’d been shaving for years. The menfolk in my life seemed to prefer it, and I always thought of it as cleaner. Who wants smelly armpit hair? As for my legs, well, I have PCOS myself. They look like dude’s legs. I also have a small beard.
I was very, very self conscious. I still remember crying many, many times because I just felt so self conscious about it. Once my husband even stopped on a trip somewhere to get some razors, because I would freak out about it.
Then I got pregnant.
Everything changed. I stopped shaving my legs and everything else, too. I was still self-conscious, but at least I no longer feared being mistaken for a cross dresser (which I also feel guilty for, because there is nothing wrong with actually being a cross dresser ). A Pregnant belly is an unmistakable mark of femininity. Suddenly I was confident in my gender identity as never before. I am a woman. I like being a woman. I am happy being a woman. Finally, I am secure in being a woman. It doesn’t work that way for everyone, but for me, it did.
Then i had my baby.
Getting out became a goal in and of itself. Who cares what I look like? If I got my hair brushed every day it was a miracle; shower once a week was impressive. Everything became about pushing through those hard, hard first months. I had to refocus on what what important: Getting my hair brushed, and wearing my shirt right way out. I stopped caring about my hair. I didn’t even notice. I was so wrapped up in caring for my baby that some how I stopped worrying about how other people see me.
Then I was showering every second day and even got out for walks with my baby. I could walk without pain and my mind felt clear again. It happened some time around the six month mark that I woke up.
I realised that I didn’t hate myself anymore. I actually feel *good* about myself. I am happy being this way! There is nothing wrong with arm pit hair and a bit of a beard! I have nothing to prove. Not to the world. Not to you… and not to myself.

Then came the next realisation.
I am my daughter’s model. When she looks at me, she will see what she will look like when she grows up – even though she may, in reality, look nothing like me she will still think this way. If I show her that I am not happy with my body, then how can she be happy with hers? In her mind, I am judging her when I judge myself. Mother is the model of all things to daughter. I can teach her self love. This is my opportunity to make her happier than I ever was. I can teach her to love herself by not changing myself. By saying ‘I’m fine as I am’ I can teach her that so, too, is she. I can teach her to be healthy instead of thin; by happy instead of shaven. I am going to. If she chooses to shave later on, that’s her choice. But I will not have taught her from her youngest days that she has to to be a woman. She will not know how much self doubt I was tourtured with because I had a few hairs on my chin.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is where I will now explain something even more mind blowing than my journey to self acceptance with the help of a litle baby.
There is not a single part of your anatomy that does not serve a purpose.
Even your hair.
I know. I know. Pubic hair is icky, right? Wrong. As icky as public hair seems, what it actually does is keep the skin underneath clean and free of harmful bacteria. When you shave, you actually cover your skin in harmful bacteria and open it up with micro-tears in to which the bacteria can travel. Other removal methods are just as harsh. You actually make yourself more dirty by removing it.
It also makes things more comfortable. It reduces friction when you move your arms… and during sex. It cushions one against bacteria carried by one’s partner during sex, too. If you’re having casual sex, keep in mind that those micro-tears that let bacteria in also make you more likely to catch STDs. I found my regular UTIs disappeared after I stopped shaving. Nothing else worked.
So yea. It’s there for good reasons.

Put some though in to Armputs4August ladies – and gents. See if you like the freedom it brings. I sure did. You might be happier – and healthier.

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A fitting first topic   3 comments

Well. Here I am. Writing. I’m one of those people who was always thinking about writing a blog but never really did it.
And now I am.
And what, you might ask, triggered my final decision to really give this thing a shot?
Well, it was of course something that happened to come up. So many of my mini rants are.
Someone posted a photo of themselves at their new, dieted, post birth weight, well on their way to their goal… and I wanted to scream at her.

I didn’t. I didn’t because it isn’t her fault. Getting back to your pre-birth weight is just something women DO, right? All those baby pounds have to go, right?
Here’s the thing. No. No, they don’t. Firstly, the idea you have a perfect weight is blatantly false. Health is far more complicated than simply taking your height, and weight, and saying one person is healthy and another is not. Health is about blood pressures, and cholesterol levels. It’s about stress reactions, insulin levels. It’s about all kinds of things. Body fat isn’t really one of them.
Here’s the thing. Being overweight can be a symptom of other health issues. It isn’t, in and of itself, unhealthy. And yet we are obsessed. The entire medical establishment is obsessed. The entire population is obsessed. With a symptom. There is this idea that if a BMI is right, then an individual is healthy. It simply isn’t true. Hell, people with normal BMIs don’t even live longer. However, here we are, dieting. Don’t get me wrong, a not awesome diet can cause issues. However, dieting rarely aims to fix issues with nutritional deficiencies and overabundance – it aims to perform simple math that makes calories into be pretty dire. That, ladies and entlemen, is how we get some people with eating disorders. Actually, a lot of our ideas about health are off. Such as, did you know, half of all heart attach patients have normal blood cholesterol – many even low?
Anyway. Weight doesn’t define health. So why do so many women who have babies become so uncomfortable with their weight?
The answer is in how the conversation went after I asked “How does it feel?”.
There isn’t an answer. There was confusion.  How it feels just wasn’t  important. That’s not why most post natal women loose weight.
It’s about body image.
There’s this ideal self in the minds of many women that they could be if only they could be thin enough. Curvy enough. Pretty enough. There’s this idea that something is wrong with you if you have body fat. Ladies – and gentlemen – that’s not really true. Sure, something could be wrong with you, but it’s not your fat.
Women who have been pregnant have been through a huge change greater than even that of puberty. There is nothing else like it in the human experience. With it comes great hormonal and physical changes. One of these is that there is weight to be gained, and one’s body does not wish to loose it. One’s body actually rather needs it. This race to be thin is not healthy. It’s not healthy for your mind, and it is not healthy for your body, mama. You’re looking at the scale when you should be thinking ‘how do I feel?’. Everything else is a distraction. Post natal exercise is good. Post natal dieting? Not so much. Especially in breastfeeding mothers, your diet should be varied, and based on how hungry you are. For a handy health gauge, look at your energy levels. A good energy input and diet should result in a VERY GRADUAL increase in energy. Good energy levels are a good indicator of overall health. If you feel good, chances are you ARE good.
Ladies, I’m going to drop some knowledge on you.
Dieting won’t make you healthy. Dieting will not make you beautiful. It will not undo what has happened to your body.
Nor should it, because my dear woman, you are amazing. You made life. You carried it inside you, you let it change you. You nurtured it as best you could, and sweetheart, it was amazing. Literally amazing. You should be in awe of yourself. Instead you are dieting. For some ill defined unattainable image of beauty, or some misapplied diagnostic medical tool. Whatever your reason – stop.
Eat healthy. Whatever that means. Pick something sustainable. Exercise gently…. and enjoy your baby. Enjoy you. Beauty is not a virtue. It isn’t something by which you should be defining yourself. You are so much more than that. You are so much more than your BMI. You are so much more than you give yourself credit for. Yet here you are, looking for people to say ‘well done’ at your shed pounds for a sense of accomplishment. You created life, lady. Weight watcher brownie points just do not compare.