“You look like your pre-pregnancy self. Your midriff is absolutely gone!” A friend complimented me recently as our kids (quite oblivious to the gravity of our discussion), played in her living room.
“I, on the other hand..” She sighed sadly and continued “…am just expanding like a balloon. What’s your secret?”
I felt embarrassed. A part of me wanted to point out to her that I am still 9-10 pounds more than I was before pregnancy, not to mention that I still have to suck in my stomach for photographs 😉 (though I am not sure I can still blame baby weight for it, considering my “baby” is almost 4.5 years old now!). A part of me wanted to show her some of the old clothes I still have tucked in at the back of my closet from the days gone by in the hopes that someday I will be able to wear them again.
Instead, I just accepted the compliment and mumbled something about green tea and no sugar, knowing very well in my mind that it’s all BS (I am more of a coffee drinker and I just had consumed three cloyingly sweet “raskadam” minutes before stopping by her place).
But this is not an isolated discussion. In fact, I am sure somewhere in the world a group of women is discussing the exact same thing as we speak.
In the last decade or so, I have been part of this discussion leading the conversation from either side of the table a countless number of times. I can’t remember the last time I spoke to a woman and it had not somehow, magically, turned into a discussion about body image at some point. Sometimes, I have been “the skinny one” and sometimes I have been “the fat one”. But in both cases, I have been anxious and self-derogatory, dissecting every single flaw of my body over and over again, trying to nip, tuck and fit into some imaginary ideal simply by the power of my critique.
But my last discussion was different. That part of me which wanted to go on a rampage insulting how I looked was weak. It was a tiny whisper, easily neglected. Somehow, my mind and heart were only a third party to that conversation.