It was a rare evening. Both of our kids had cooperated at bedtime, falling asleep easily in their own room. By 8 p.m., the rest of our evening was kid-free and wide open. Sure, we could have caught up on laundry or watched whatever was waiting in our Hulu queue. I could have given into the exhaustion of my approaching third trimester and passed out while my husband watched TV without me.
But on this night, we decided all of that could wait. I decided I’d rather stay awake with my love than get an extra hour of sleep. We closed our bedroom door and took our time with each other, refusing to rush. When we were done, we lay in bed, tangled in our sheets, still breathless from passion. My husband rolled onto his side to face me, propped his head up with his hand, and asked, “Can I tell you something?”
He knew my answer would be yes. Always yes. Anything. He can tell me anything.
He reached over to smooth a piece of hair out of my face, and he said, “Both other times you were pregnant, I dreaded the end. I was excited to meet our babies, but I knew that the end of your pregnancy was the end of your self-esteem. You’re so uninhibited when you’re pregnant. It’s like you finally think you’re worth something when your body is growing a baby. I was sad to see it end because I knew you would go back to feeling unattractive. I’d have to go back to reassuring you, never touching your stomach in case you were feeling self-conscious that day. I knew I would miss the version of you that I only got to know when you were pregnant.”
He went on.
“But I’m not worried this time. You’re so different now. You haven’t hated yourself in such a long time. I still love how healthy and sexy you feel when you’re pregnant. I think your body is such a miracle with our baby in it. But now I know that I won’t lose this version of you when she’s born. You finally love your body like I’ve always loved it, and it’s so sexy to me.”
I can’t begin to really explain how proud that made me feel.
View this post on Instagram
It’s the last time I’ll ever be pregnant. I have a hard time taking photos of myself because my arms are short and my body is big, but I managed this one and to be honest, I love it. I know I’m very round. I have a long way to go with this pregnancy and I’m only going to get rounder. But I feel healthy and beautiful and my baby girl is safe in this body, growing and getting ready to meet us. I have never been self-conscious of my face, and now for the first time, I feel like more than a pretty face. My body feels worthy to me, finally. So, here it is. I’m never going to be that writer that inundates my social media with tons of full body shots. I’d have to ask my husband to take them, and I have no time for frequent photo shoots. But once in a while, I feel obligated to show more of my body than my face and shoulders because I am truly as happy and comfortable and content as I say I am. Not only with the parts I’ve always loved, but with all of me. I don’t know what my body will look like for the rest of my life. It could end up bigger or smaller or stay just like this. And I’m going to love every day of the life I get to live no matter what. I only have one body. I’m not wasting my life hating it. #plussize #plussizeandpregnant #pregnantbelly #nobodyshame #effyourbeautystandards
He is right. I do love my body the way he loves it now. He loves so much more than how I look. That is what I needed to do so I could come around to loving me, too.
Everything in my life changed when I chose to stop seeing my own body as my enemy.
Enemies engage in a mutual fight. But my body wasn’t fighting me. My body was just existing, serving me well, carrying me through my greatest joys, and surviving my deepest tragedies.
I didn’t have an enemy; I had a victim.
Despite the fact that I was healthy and thriving, I was choosing to be cruel to myself because I did not see this fat body as a reflection of my intelligence or beauty. My body felt foreign to me, even as I lived inside it. So, I did all I could to change it into a thin body.
But it never happened for me, no matter what kind of abuse I subjected myself to. I could never continue hurting myself long enough to make the change. Every time I failed, I hated myself just a little bit more.
I had to confront my own biases about fat people to get past that feeling. I had bought the lie that fat people like me are inherently less intelligent and less attractive than thin people. It hurt to realize that I had contributed to that narrative by accepting it about myself.
But I shed that toxic mindset, and I choose every day not to look back.
I never considered that my husband would be so excited about it because he loved me so well even while I hated my own body. He has always been obsessed with every inch of me, no matter what I lose or gain. I have never doubted that he adored me.
I just never understood why.
Now I do. My body doesn’t look like a magazine cover, but it is a big part of the woman he loves. It’s carried both of his sons, and it’s carrying his daughter right now. My mind holds all his deepest fears and insecurities, and he knows I’ll never tell. My heart is honored to carry his pain, so he never walks alone. I committed to being one with him many years ago, and I have done an excellent job. I am an outstanding wife, partner and lover for him. It was never fair for me to feel like anything less.
This man loves me — mind, soul, spirit and body.
We have only ever been together. He has told me that I am irresistible almost every single day.
I always believed that HE believed it, but I didn’t understand what he saw.
Now I do.
We enjoy each other’s bodies, but now I do it without apologies, with the lights on, and without pointing out all my own flaws. Honestly, I don’t even feel flawed anymore. I feel like I deserve the way he worships my body.
He can tell. It’s changed everything.
Sex is hotter. So much hotter. As it turns out, feeling sexy is sexy. I thought it was great before, but the last couple of years have been a whole new experience.
We argue less because I’m just not as miserable. I don’t feel unworthy of the space I take up anymore. I don’t shy away from doing things I want to do because I’m fat. Since I have stopped hiding, I don’t pull the sheets over my stomach or hide my body with a pillow when we sit on the couch. It’s been a long time since I forced my body into a rigid diet, setting myself up for failure. I’m just happier.
He doesn’t have to think of ways to reassure me that I’m beautiful. I see myself through his eyes. When he stops me in the store just to spin me around and kiss me, I feel like I deserve it. I don’t care who can’t see what he sees in me. I see it. That’s all I need.
I thought I was on a journey to self-love, but it turned out to be so much more. Immersing myself in body positive messages has taught me a whole new way to see the world. I am a better mother, a more confident woman, and a more self-assured writer.
And it’s made my marriage a happier, more peaceful and way sexier place to be. It’s been hard to unlearn decades of negative messages about fat bodies, but it’s worth every bit of the effort it’s taken.
I’m so, so happy here.