I don’t really like to write about body image, but I feel that certain events over the past week have prompted me to do so. Earlier this week, an image posted by Cosmopolitan Magazine on their Facebook page sparked outrage when they referred to the woman in the photo as a plus-size model. The girl looked healthy and wasn’t one of those models where you could count her individual ribs (refreshing for once!), but the last thing I would do is call her plus-size.
Society places way too much pressure on women to look a certain way and be a certain size. However, regardless of you shape or weight, it seems like nothing is ever good enough.
- You lose weight, people now think you are too skinny – “eat some doughnuts!”
- You gain a few extra pounds – “are you sure you should eat that doughnut?”
In my own experiences, when I’ve lost a few pounds, people comment on how great I look (even though I may feel like I’ve lost my curves). But gain a few pounds and negative comments are made. In either case, people dance around the subject by asking you if you are ok, if you are sick, or if something is wrong. Thanks for the concern, but nothing is wrong – except for the unwelcome comments. I feel really awkward when people comment on my weight, to me it’s something personal, and if I’m satisfied with how I look, why should anyone else’s opinion matter?
I feel like these pressures also come into play after giving birth. The new moms we see in the media look like their pre-pregnancy selves within weeks. Some women are fortunate and bounce back naturally without much effort, and that’s great, but it’s not reality for majority of women. After I had Odin, it took me about 3 months (which to me is still too fast) to get back to pre-pregnancy weight – but definitely not pre-pregnancy “shape”. Breastfeeding was a major contributor, but I also started regular workouts 4 weeks after giving birth. During my pregnancy I made changes to my diet, incorporating more veggies into my diet, because I didn’t want Odin to be a picky eater like I was. I would feel like a hypocrite telling him to eat his carrots when I wasn’t eating my own. I feel like these modifications also aided in postpartum weight loss.
When it comes to exercise, running is my jam (the half marathon specifically). One of the things I’ve heard a few times in the past year is “you look too small, maybe you shouldn’t run so much”. Sure, I’m just going to cut back on something that makes me happy, makes me feel good and helps me de-stress: hells-to-the-no. When I started running it was out of a desire to lose weight I had gained in my first year of university, but now weight loss is not a motivating factor for why I run. I run because I LOVE to run. Running is what puts me in my happy place – ask my husband, I’m miserable if I go awhile without running or am recovering from injury.
All of this mumbo-jumbo to say:
What really matters is how you feel. The numbers on the scale may not be moving as quickly as you want them to, but suddenly all of your clothes are a bit roomier – celebrate that! Do you notice that your workouts that once seemed impossible have gotten easier? Can you run longer distances than last week?Celebrate those things too! Celebrate the little accomplishments and remember that what matters most is your happiness and how you feel about yourself – not what others think you should look like. The scale is not the be-all-end-all. There are so many things that a scale doesn’t account for. You only live once, so remember to treat yo self!