To all the new mothers out there, even if you had your last baby a decade ago, or you are a mother to your cat, goldfish, or bicycle. I have something to tell you: You are gorgeous. You are beautiful and sexy and deeply lovable.
Ever since returning back to work (at a yoga studio) a few months ago, I have been dealing with body image issues, the likes of which I haven’t encountered since I was a child. Trying to fit in and be lovable is something I’ve aspired to since I can remember. A lot of my preoccupation revolved around exterior appearances. My body, my clothes, and what I “do.”
As I have grown into a mature woman this has gradually become easier. I have gotten to know myself better and feel more comfortable in my own skin. I’ve even been able to rock a bikini poolside, knowing that my cellulite is showing. I have found some healing around giving a damn about what others think.
Being a new mother however, has brought a lot of my old insecurities back to the surface. I have bumps and bulges in my midriff where before there were none. I can’t kick into a handstand anymore. I look and feel different. Something about being in Beijing, and especially about being in the yoga room, brings these insecurities up in me even more. My classroom is generally 90 percent filled with young, fit, Chinese women. Based on the way I hear ayis speaking bluntly about people in our yard, I know body judgment isn’t a foreign concept here. I feel judged. I have a pigu (rear-end) that was large before the baby. Now, it’s bigger.
This last weekend after a class I taught, my ego took another hit that sent me and my body-image to a, pardon the pun, bottom. I (briefly) got to the point where I thought the solution was to exist on juice to make it “right sized” i.e. smaller, again. I spent the day wanting to hide in a heap under the covers in my bed. But I was given encouragement by my husband and friends, and that turned me back toward the light.
Whether inside the yoga room or on the streets of Beijing, everyone has insecurities. Perhaps the most beautiful, skinny woman you’ve ever seen is wishing her nose was different or her legs were longer. The best I can do is to shine brightly and rock my curvaceous booty, giving others permission to do the same. The idea that after having a baby my body should be the same as it was before or that I need to scramble to get it there, is unfair. It’s better to treasure the little bump on my belly and feel gratitude for what it brought me: my beautiful little boy.
I need to accept my beautiful body for what it is. Honestly, a wonderful, marvelous body! I can’t be of service to others hiding it under the covers.
So again, to all women out there, mommies or not, you are beautiful no matter your shape. Shine brightly so others can do the same.
Theresa Pauline is a yoga teacher, social entrepreneur, momma, wife, and beijingkids contributor. You can find out more about her at www.taozitreeyoga.com
Photos: Courtesy of Theresa Pauline