“Why are you so proud to be half naked on the internet? You are a mother. Your daughter will see that.”
I got asked this today. I am surprised that it was the first time it came up. I have sensed the judgment and watched the unfollowing and unfriending of many of my “modest, conservative” family members and friends. To be honest, it never really bothered me. I never have fit in, ever. Why start now?
But at the mere mention of my daughter, it made me really stop and think.
About a year ago, I didn’t know it, but I started on a journey to finding self love and respect for my ever-changing body. As a woman with a long history with negative body image, disordered eating and anxiety, this journey was something I felt I must document. For myself, and inadvertently, for women on the internet who follow me.
It wasn’t all at once, but slowly, piece by piece, inch by fluffy inch, I not only started accepting my body, and society’s perceived flaws, but loving them. I started to see beauty in the spaces and places I grew up conditioned to hate.
As a woman suffering with PCOS, an endocrine disorder that can cause weight gain, infertility, unwanted facial hair and hair loss, I already felt less womanly. Less desirable. More ugly in a body I felt was broken and created to steal all my femininity.
So learning to love my body, as it was, in it’s current state, felt like an act of bravery. I still remember posting that first crop top picture, with my dimpled tummy and stretch lines, and immediately hiding my phone under my pillow- refusing to read what I was certain were going to be negative, disrespectful comments. But, “it didn’t matter. I wasn’t doing it for them. I was doing it for me.”
When did a woman unapologetically accepting and embracing her body become an act only carried out by the bold?
I fell asleep that night, and woke up with courage to go read the comments. There were a few nasty, rude comments. But in all, I read from women who felt empowered. Inspired. Encouraged to love themselves, too.
Unintentionally, I started sharing more and more of me and my body. People came out to tell me I was doing it for attention. But I knew I wasn’t. I was doing it for me. I was doing it for the women who felt just a little bit more represented in the realm of social media normally ruled by airbrushed, photoshopped, perfect bodies. I was doing it for the dimpled, bumpy, cellulite-covered, stretch-marked, saggy, chubby, heavy, hairy, underrepresented bodies who felt left out of the discussion, unwelcome in a world that doesn’t display who they see staring back in the mirror each morning.
Sure, there were people who expressed their distaste. They proclaimed I needed ‘self-respect’ and to not celebrate the body I was in. I was told I was too big to show myself. I was told I was too loud. Too bold. Too brave.
Is there really such a thing as too brave? When did a woman unapologetically accepting and embracing her body become an act only carried out by the bold? The brave? Doesn’t that itself say something is really messed up with how we portray women and ultimately what we teach young girls to view themselves in comparison?
I am proud of my body. It has been through hell and back. It has birthed two babies. It has grown and changed. I am not ashamed of my body. I am not going to hide myself away until society accepts it. I am not going to stop telling the world that I am happy and confident, even when they tell me I shouldn’t be.
I want my daughter to see. I want her to see my body. And your body. All different stories and shapes and curves and characteristics. Maybe then, she won’t feel like a warrior sent out into battle unarmed and out of place. Maybe she won’t feel that just because her body is different, doesn’t make it disgraceful. Maybe she will see that being okay with yourself, and speaking of it proudly, and displaying it is something we should all learn instead of unlearning how to feel shamed and hidden away.
So yes, my daughter will see my half naked body on the internet. But my hope is she won’t see the flaws and imperfections society sees. My hope is she see’s her beautiful mother, believing in herself, embracing her body, speaking her mind, and encouraging others to feel brave enough to do so, too.