We hear about this all the time. About how we need to stop body shaming other women and nurturing an environment that creates unreasonable expectations about how we should look and sets a bad example for young women.
But what about when we body shame ourselves?
I was scrolling through my camera of photos from a recent family vacation when it caught my eye.
The hotel where we were staying on this vacation had a duck pond near the pool area. The kids and I had a blast feeding the ducks, swimming, and playing pool games. One of the pictures, which my husband must have taken, was of the kids squatting along the edge of the pond tossing food pellets to one of the ducks.
In the background of that picture was an elderly woman wearing a one-piece swimsuit. She was also bent over feeding the ducks, with her aged, flat booty facing the camera.
Then I looked closer.
It wasn’t an old lady.
It was me.
I gave the camera to my husband, pointed to the picture, and asked him if my butt really looked that way in real life.
It wasn’t a firm and round butt.
It was a stereotypical flapjack style middle-aged mom butt.
I think it was a bad angle. You’re standing in an awkward position.
Lies. My husband was avoiding the question.
Then I got all lawyer on him and the deposition began.
How long has my butt looked like this?
Do you think it’s because of all the wine we drink?
Or because I’ve had two kids?
Or because I need to start doing a thousand lunges a day?
Perhaps its because I’m getting older?
Maybe I’ve got a hormone imbalance, like a bad thyroid?
Do you think I can start contouring my butt with makeup like the Kardashians contour their faces?
I stressed and obsessed about my mom butt for a couple days.
The self-shaming was out of control.
I started discussing it with some of my mom friends.
Then I quickly discovered that they all have insecurities, too.
Saggy boobs. Flabby stomachs. C-Section scars. Double chins. Thinning hair. Adult acne. Cellulite.
One afternoon, when I was in the middle of a phone conversation with one of my girlfriends talking about our mom butts, I looked over and saw my five year-old daughter playing legos by herself in the living room.
I got off the phone and started playing with her.
We laughed, we smiled, we told stories, we worked on a school project. We made ice cream sundaes and giggled when I accidentally spilled multi-colored sprinkles all over the floor. We made figurines out of play-doh and pretended to work in a restaurant. Her waitress name was Flo and mine was Linda. She took customer orders while I prepared the food. Today’s Special was beef stroganoff and fried cod.
We had the best day.
And then it dawned on me.
My daughter didn’t care about my flapjack style middle-aged mom butt.
She cared about spending time with me.
The same is true for the way all children feel about their moms. They don’t care about your saggy boobs, flabby stomach, C-section scar, double chin, thinning hair, adult acne, or your cellulite.
They care about you.
Spending quality time with you.
Laughing with you.
Playing with you.
Making memories with you.
When your kids are adults, they won’t remember your minor physical imperfections. What they will remember are the memories you created and the relationships you nurtured. The fun you had together and the lessons you taught them. They will remember that you made them a priority. The way you loved them.
That’s what they’ll remember.
Not the small details about your body.
They think you’re perfect just the way you are.
And you know what?
Who cares if we have mom butts?
We are moms, after all.
We need to stop body shaming ourselves.
So ladies, as summertime and swimsuit season are upon us, don’t be afraid to jump in the pool and go swimming with your kids because you are trying to avoid being seen in a bathing suit. Don’t be ashamed that you’re wearing a one-piece instead of a Brazilian cut bikini. Don’t worry about getting your hair wet because it’s curly and dries funky. Take the plunge.
You are your own worst critic and nobody else is paying attention anyway. Don’t let your own minor imperfections rob you of enjoying experiences with your kids while they’re still little. Don’t let your insecurities steal your peace of mind.