my flaws, my beauty

“How old is he?  Wow! You look so great!

In the past week this has been said to me exactly three times.  And yes, I remember each time because each time they were words I so desperately needed to hear.

I do not feel good in this body.  At all.

Just like with Eddie, I immediately dropped all the weight and then some.  My friends joke that if I want to lose weight, I just need to get pregnant, wait nine months, and boom.  20 pounds lighter than I started.

Seriously.

But it only lasts five minutes.

Then I get the real postpartum body.

The droopy skin.  The new spider veins.  The new stretch marks that didn’t look so bad on super stretched taut skin, but on loose flabby skin, no thanks.  The pimples.  The bald spots from hair loss.

Each time someone tells me I look great, I have to swallow hard to just say, “thank you,” and not try to talk them out of the compliment that they just gave me. 

Because I am paranoid that they are lying to me.

It’s true. I hate my body so much right now, that I am carrying around a lump of anxiety and paranoia that people are judging me.

“Be kind to yourself, you just had a baby.”

Just? I don’t know about just. It has been 13 weeks.  Charlie will be three months tomorrow.

Maybe it’s Hollywood’s fault. Maybe it’s because I have tiny skinny friends who went from pregnant to hot mom in 12 seconds.  Maybe it’s because I feel like everyone in the world is prettier than I am.  I don’t know.  But what I know?  Is that I feel so ugly lately.

I told myself I would give myself my 12 week maternity leave before I worried about weight.

And I feel like I did a pretty good job of just focusing on being comfortable and happy for 12 weeks.

Then I went back to work this week and saw people.

And felt like they were looking at me.  Not just looking…but scrutinizing.

They probably weren’t.

But I feel like they were.

I feel like everything I put in my mouth is judged by someone.

It’s probably not.

But it feels like it is.

My mind is creating whispers that aren’t there (or are they??): She looks bigger than she did before the baby. Sheesh, she still looks pregnant.  Someone get her some spanx!  She should probably order water and a cracker, not the enchiladas and a diet coke.  What was she thinking wearing that? Does she think she looks good?

No. I don’t.

“You look great!”

It’s so hard for me to hear…and yet…I need those compliments.  And I so badly need them to be real.

I find myself searching the face of the compliment-giver to see if she is being sincere. I listen intently to the tone.

Please don’t say it if you don’t mean it.  My heart can’t take it.

I find myself even wondering how Cort can continue to call me “Pretty Lady”.

My body image insecurity is peaking right now.

And then I found this picture that Cort snapped last week.

I remember when he took the photo, but I didn’t know I was in the picture.  I thought he was just zooming in on Charlie.

I distinctly remember feeling flabby and icky that day.  I was on Day 2 hair (you know, the shower, but don’t wash the hair kind of day) and I was frustrated trying to cover the sun damage on my face.

I had been very tired this day after running around all day and I was grateful to finally cash out with the small one for a bit.

I didn’t want my picture taken.

And now, looking at it over a week later, I see a small glimpse of why people tell me I look great.

It has nothing to do with how much I weigh.

It’s because I am happy.

I am loving being a mom right now.

And it shows.

Through all of my flaws and perceived “uglies”, through my bad skin and hair, through feeling fat and icky…

I am a beautiful mother of two.

Did seeing this picture erase all the bad feelings?

I wish, but no.

Did it take away my paranoia about people judging me?

No.  I am still sure others are looking at my waist wondering why I don’t have at least some semblance of one back yet.

I think it’s my stupid anxiety that does that to me, but at least until I can make a dent on the flaws, I know I am not a lost cause.

There is beauty amongst the flaws.

*************

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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. I can so relate to this. When people tell me how good I look, I find myself trying to correct them and explain it away. “Oh, thank you – but I am wearing full-panel maternity pants PLUS Spanx PLUS a really slimming nursing top underneath everything that is holding me all together.”

    By the way – the picture looks lovely. Not only are you looking happy, but you do look great too.

  2. Heck yeah. It’s amazing what a little happy will do.

  3. You don’t need to hear it from me for certain – but I’ll say it anyway. You ARE a beautiful mom of two. Look at the smile on your face. As Khalil Gibran says, beauty is a light in the heart. You have that light, my friend.

  4. You are one of the most beautiful women I know. No hyperbole.

  5. You are gorgeous…and I really mean it. Your eyes sell it in that picture above. Happy. That is what people respond to. Who cares if you are on 2nd day hair (hey I am right now at work! HEYO!). No one knows that but you. We see happy. The most compliments I have ever received are from days I was truly happy. It shows.

    And because I am a problem solver, how about a photo challenge for yourself. I had a friend do this before. Each week get a picture taken of you and point out the GOOD you see. If you really like your calves, take a picture of that. Doesn’t have to be a blog post, but just something to point out the qualities that YOU love about yourself. Hope that helps.

  6. You look incredibly happy and beautiful!

  7. You DO look amazing, friend. I know what you’re saying here. I do. I know you know I do.

    But you do look amazing. Happy. Whole. And that’s better than all the stretch-mark free bodies in the world.

  8. Katie? I think you look great . . . I thought you looked great before I knew you were pregnant, I thought you looked great as a pregnant woman, and I think you look great now.

    But, I’m the king of not believing people when they tell me that I look great. Seriously, I wonder what their ulterior motive is for giving me a compliment, and if I can’t find one, I bug myself to figure out why they were lying. It’s like a sickness . . . and I hate it. Even if I’m willing to admit that I look ok, I refuse to believe that other people see it. Grrrrr.

    Right now, I’ve lost about 20 pounds over the past 3 weeks (between being sick, and barely eating while sick, running around chasing toddlers in very hot weather, and not drinking . . . well, I’ve been burning off more calories than I’ve been eating, and by a lot), and I’m actually approaching “skinny.” The clothes I’m wearing want to fall off of me today – and I have my belt on the tightest setting . . . but, “skinny” means that I’m also feeling that I look “weak,” and that has me all freaked out . . . almost as much as if I thought I were looking fat (which I feel, but I know I don’t look).

    On top of everything, the antibiotics that I’ve been on have me breaking out like a teenager who just had a chocolate milk & fried food feast . . . so, I’m a good old-fashioned mess. And you’re beautiful. So there.

  9. You are SO beautiful…. inside and OUTSIDE. 🙂

  10. I get ya! I was feeling awesome about my post-baby body cuz I too, dropped the weight and then some fast. Then I started seeing pictures. I had confidence until the pictures and then I was like umm eww. Then I started dropping more wieght and felt great (I wasn’t doing anything, woo woo haha) and then it call came flying back on. Now I am a year post baby and I just feel like a fat ass. A fat ass who has some amazing arms, though. 😉

  11. While i am long post those times myself, I remember them well, and you did a BEAUTIFUL job of capturing the push and pull of happiness and fear/self-image issues. But I will say, you look radiant, and radiant beats skinny any day. Besides, skinny is relative and overrated. I can’t tell if you are in this pic. I suspect that you are from what I can see. But it will never be what makes you happy, so learn to cherish the radiance, whether you are wearing your skinny jeans or not. I honestly think aging brings peace from these feelings. Certainly I have learned to love myself more from about 38 on (I’m 46 now) and that included loving my body and the fabulous things it does.

  12. I think how I feel about myself colors how I see pictures of myself. If I’m having a “yay me” day, I think I look good in every pic. But if I’m having an “I am gross” day, the VERY SAME PICTURES will look terrible.

    That is some serious brain jujitsu if you ask me. 🙂

  13. First of all, I think it is beautiful that you are willing to put these insecurities out there for the world to know. That takes courage. And about the self-image, I *do* think every postpartum mom, no matter the size before OR after baby, carries this around from time to time. I always turn to scripture when I’m feeling this way: Psalm 139:13: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” and Isaiah 43:4: “…you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you… ” God created you and He loves you. That self hate is from the devil, friend! 🙂

  14. You’re a pretty mama. Like you said, happy and it shows. We all struggle with those feelings of self-doubt and self-loathing. Sad but true. All we can do is be conscience of our feelings, like you are, and have faith that we can change these feelings. You’re doing everything right, just keep on going.

  15. Oh Kate! Can you look around you at all the women you know and understand that look on their faces when you tell them how great they look? For reasons I do NOT understand, we women don’t believe the compliments we get. Is it possible that you will look more beautiful if you more often look through the lens that Cort looks through? Or see you as Eddie and Charlie see you? And is it impossible that women who genuinely like you see you through that same lens? You are beautiful on the outside, but even if you weren’t – happy is attractive!

  16. I just adore that your husband included you in the shot. That shows right there how beautiful he thinks YOU are.

    I’ve had to learn that from my husband too. He will tell me I am beautiful and I shy away from it and think or even say “except for ‘blah, blah, blah” or “yeah, I would be if only, blah, blah, blah was different”. He’s actually gotten upset with me about it before and now I take the compliment and thank him and move on but it’s still hard sometimes.

    I think SO many of us can relate to what you say here, too many in fact. But we ARE beautiful and we are blessed to have men in our lives who know it.

    xo

  17. I find when I’m not looking in the mirror or seeing pictures/videos of myself, that I feel good about myself. Then I see what I *think* other people see and I go, “WTF? I seriously look like THAT!?” It’s SO easy to be critical of ourselves.

    Sometimes you just have to take other people’s word(s) at face value. Because YOU, my dear, YOU look fabulous (whether you *just* had a baby or not!). Sincerely and truly.

  18. Katy,

    I so relate to this. Like, it’s scary how much i relate to this. I assume everyone’s lying and I don’t like people looking at me. We went to the pool yesterday—UGH.

    I have a ton of new spider veins since Piper. And brown spots on my face (they called it melasma), not pretty. double ugh.

    Love you, love your thoughts, and that pic is gorgeous of both of you!

  19. First of all, Charlie is A-DOR-A-BLE – let’s get that straight.
    But this isn’t about him; it’s about you.

    I am digging those eyes, that Mona Lisa smile. And everyone has already told you how beautiful you are; they’ve pointed out the light, the happy, the RIGHT of it all.

    So let me just add that I’m crushing on the triple-piercings in your ear.
    That’s a wee bit of bad-assery, my friend.

    You are a strong, smart, LOVELY bad-ass.

    Oh yeah.

  20. If you don’t print and frame that picture, I will have to give you a stern talking to. It’s gorgeous. And i think it’s even more gorgeous because like you said, you didn’t even think you were in the shot. You weren’t posing or trying to position yourself in a flattering way (which whenever I do that I end up looking even less flattering). You were in the moment.

    I’ve never lost the baby weight. Or I did, then it came back because I stress eat and sit on my butt blogging too much.

  21. –It doen’t matter a DAMN what people think.

    You. Are. Beautiful.

    Believe it. <3

  22. It’s the eyes Mama. They are so happy and content, and GORGEOUS.

  23. Sigh. I really feel you on this one. Maybe not on the 12 weeks post-partum part but on the “everyone is prettier than me” or “why can’t I look this way” way.

    I don’t really recall feeling this way before I was a mom. I was happy enough with my body, I have always HAAAAATED my hair with an extreme level of rage (seriously, I should probably be medicated). My skin is alright and I am even pretty darn good with an eyeliner should I feel so compelled. I felt like an average girl. Even if my hubs is awesome at telling me I am pretty.

    But since becoming a mom? I don’t know. I hate it. I suck my tummy in, I panic if I don’t cover the circles, I cry at who I used to be. The grey hairs, they never stop, and where are all these wrinkles coming from? I am NOT THAT OLD!

    I don’t know what it is. I had a baby 26 months ago and I STILL feel like, when I am out without her, I want a sign that says “OH sorry about the way I look. I swear I USED to be pretty but now I am a mom and where do I find the time? Not to mention my hips never retracted and I have no pants that fit and the grey? THEY ARE FROM THE NOT SLEEPING! So please, look at me through “she is a toddler mom” eyes so you’re judging properly.”

    Bit of a long sign but, that’s how it feels. Just what we needed, motherhood messing with our brains in ANOTHER way.

  24. Your gorgeous smile says it all. You are one beautiful mama.

  25. You are amazing. Inside and out. I love this post. Your honesty and your beauty shine through with every word.

Trackbacks

  1. […] got to give love to the girl who started this. My blogging bestie, Katie. She wrote a post about the beauty she’s found among her perceived flaws. When she talks about her post-baby body, I’m all nodding my head […]