This week I was shopping with one of my favorite girlfriends in the world. She’s a thrifty mama who loves to snag bargains from the T.J. Maxx sales rack. It’s fun to shop with her because, well, she is drop-dead gorgeous — tall, thin, amazing hair. She’s a walking mannequin, basically. Do you know the type? No matter what this girl grabs off the rack, it works.
Maxi dress? Adorable. Short romper? Perfection.
I’m convinced she could roll around in hay bales and cow crap and walk away looking like Kate Middleton.
She is one. hot. mama.
My figure can be a bit more challenging to shop for, but on this particular day, the universe smiled upon us both. Twenty minutes into our outing, we were spinning in front of the dressing room mirrors in matching floral dresses. What are the odds that two different women could walk into the same dressing room with the same dress — and both walk out happy?
It was magical. Seriously.
So we high-fived one another at checkout, thrilled to be leaving with $20 worth of figure flattering awesomeness. We were attending a party later that evening, and now we were officially ready.
“Hotness is happening tonight!” I laughed.
“In double doses!” she added.
It was gonna be great.
Then, a few hours later, I received a text message.
“Ugh. Remind me why I bought this dress again?”
Seemed obvious to me that Girlfriend bought that dress because she looked amazing in it.
“Well, it showed off your waist, your legs looked amazing, and the print was fabulous! And it was $20. THAT is why, silly girl! See you tonight!”
I received a frowning emoji in response.
Girlfriend didn’t show up in her floral dress that evening. Apparently, she spent 20 minutes in front of the mirror talking herself out of how amazing she looked. Correction: telling herself how ugly she looked.
I couldn’t believe it.
How is it that a woman so beautiful — so stunning — could look at herself and see anything other than perfection? But then again, I’m always shocked by the gorgeous, talented women who spend so much of their time in self-loathing. And if I’m being completely honest, my friends have called me out for doing the same thing.
Mamas, can we have a chat?
It’s astounding to me how many of us struggle with this. How many of us have spoken unkind words over our bodies? Words like “fat” or “jiggly”? Like “cow” or “gross”?
Which is why I’m reaching out to you today. Sisters, if we really hate our bodies this much, it’s probably time for a little exercise…
…in self love.
Right now I want you to take a minute and do something with me. Yes, you. “Uh…no. I don’t need to do this! I have great body confidence. Don’t make me do a silly self-love exercise!”
Oh, really? Have you put on an outfit this week, looked in the mirror, and huffed loudly because you didn’t like what you saw? Have you eaten a snack and instantly felt guilty? Have you compared yourself to one other person and ended up feeling less-than?
Yah, sit back down. I promise — this will only take a minute.
It’s gonna feel funny. Maybe a little weird. But I believe it’s necessary. Because, mamas, these bodies we spend so much time hating on?
They created life.
Beneath your scar-filled skin, there once was a little miracle.
Those stretch marks are an atlas of your baby’s growth. A map filled with a bumps, lumps, and lines that show just how long and hard the journey was.
Really. So don’t roll your eyes.
If you look in the mirror and feel disappointment, you need to stop it. Right now. At some point, we have to stop the cycle of self-loathing and accept our bodies for what they are: freaking miracles. You have to love yourself where you’re at. That doesn’t mean your body can’t evolve. It just means that the body you have right this second is also worth loving and appreciating.
So, you and me? We are gonna take a second to give some much-deserved love to our beautiful, amazing, ever-evolving mom bods.
Still with me? Good.
Let’s do this.
1. Put your hands on your hips.
Now shake them. Shake those curvy hips, girl. Shake ’em like a Polaroid picture. Why? Because they are there. And in this very moment, there’s nothing you can do but enjoy it. So dance! Dancing makes everything feel better. And as you sway those hips from side to side, you probably should thank them.
Thank them for doing their job.
Those hips, the ones that may no longer fit in your “skinny” jeans, they made you a mother.
They grew in anticipation of new life. They made that whole childbirth thing possible. So enough with the hate, okay?
And by the way, as you go about your daily life, with your precious kid cargo firmly attached to the side of your super-comfy hip, be thankful that they are wide enough to make that possible.
Say it: ‘Thank you, curvy hips!’
2. Look at your stretch marks.
Feel them. Run your fingers along those red, purple, or silvery raised lines.
And appreciate them.
Yeah. I said it. Appreciate them. Because every line represents a moment of growth. A little twist. A little turn. A little line to show that at one point you held a living, growing, human being within the walls of your skin. Appreciate those lines. Rejoice in those lines. Find joy in those lines.
Because those lines made you a mother.
Say it with me now: “Thank you, stretchy skin.”
3. Grab that mama belly.
Wrap your arms around yourself and hug that excess skin or that tummy pouch. And love it. Love that it’s there.
Love why it’s there.
Remember the nine months that you spent with that tummy. Rubbing it, talking to it, filling it with late-night chocolate milkshake cravings. Remember the first time you felt a kick, a turn, a hiccup, a tiny elbow pressed against you from the inside.
That bulge under your shirt? The one you hate in anything form-fitting? It was once a home. A warm, safe home that was occupied by your greatest gift. And although that home is now vacant, don’t be angry that it still stands. Be grateful and love that it was built in the first place.
Are you crying yet? Let’s say this one together: “Thank you, soft belly.”
4. Now look at your child.
You made that. Your body did that. Be proud of that. Pat yourself on your strong back and marvel at the fact that this body — your amazing, incredible body — was capable of delivering the miracle of life.
Don’t be mad at your body for doing its job. Don’t hate your body for the changes it made to bring forth life. It made space for a new little soul in this world. Your baby.
So repeat after me:
HOORAY FOR SPACE! HOORAY FOR LIFE! HOORAY FOR MY INCREDIBLE BODY!
Now, do me this favor:
Keep looking at your children and stop looking in that freaking mirror. Because, girl…
You are gorgeous.
You are amazing.
You are strong.
You are a mother.
And there is no mirror in the world that could fully reflect your beauty and worth.