Making peace with my mum bod – for my daughter’s sakeAugust 10, 2016
As my daughter was running around the house last night, stark naked, before her bath I caught myself thinking ‘She has my big feet, poor kid, I wonder if she’ll get my thighs, dodgy knees, the boobs that caused me so many years of embarrassment…’.
From the moment I found out I was having a baby girl, I couldn’t help but put together an identikit of what she might look like, choosing my favourite features and adding in my husband’s; my ears, his nose, my skin tone so she won’t burn in the sun, his thick, dark hair, my eyes with his eyelashes, and so it went on.
I don’t know if I’d do that to such an extent if we were having a boy, perhaps simply imagining a mini version of the man I married, with brown eyes. But with girls, in this society so obsessed with judging/hiding/flaunting/starving women’s bodies and the media gleefully pointing out every flaw and ‘bad’ angle, you can’t help but hope that your daughter will get through life with looks that make everything a bit, well, easier. And I’m fully aware of how screwed up that is.
And we find ourselves in this weird limbo, of privately building up our little women to be confident, to find their passion, to celebrate their intelligence and independence, only for the wider world to do everything to diminish that, from GAP’s recent (dreadful) campaign where boys are ‘little scholars’ while the girls are ‘social butterflies’, to strangers commenting on their looks; ‘Oh, she’s beautiful’ ‘What a lovely dress’ ‘You’ll have to watch her with the boys with that face!’.
These comments are well-meaning, of course, and sometimes you just don’t know what to say to a little girl – despite that article coming out a few years ago, telling us to ask them what they’re reading (something I agree with, and I’ve really tried, I promise). It’s just the default reaction, it seems. Her clothes, her shoes, her hair.
My main issue, though, is trying to avoid passing on my own body issues and projecting those insecurities on to my daughter. I don’t want her to feel self-conscious like I do. When we have a bath together and she slaps my breasts or belly, giggling at the sound, I have to force myself to laugh along, and not move her hand away. And I’m getting better. She’s not judging me; she’s just enjoying being close to her mother.
To any other mums who hide from the camera, protesting at having photos taken, in that moment you might hate the baby weight, unwashed hair or the bags under your eyes, but in years to come you’ll look back and be so grateful to have souvenirs of that time.
There’s nothing wrong with my body – after all, it made her. And she’s perfect. And she’ll be perfect with my thighs.