Thursday, November 15, 2012

I love mom bodies


The news this week contains all of the elements of entertainment: sex scandal involving a General and a Superwoman. Her six minute mile! Her 13 percent body fat! Her impossibly toned arms! Former Homecoming Queen! You must read much further down to find that she is also a mother of two young sons. 

Once again it is images of the impossible, the Fantasy Female, scrolling across the screen. It is hardly his fault; how could one resist a woman such as this? 

I refuse to believe that this is the ideal woman. I find this standard of beauty even more sexist than a woman's place is in the home

I don't know any mothers who look like her, all angles and self-confidence.  

But I do know a certain anxiety among women, mothers, to achieve physical perfection above all else.

There is nothing wrong with being physical fit, but is it the only priority? Is her body the measure of a woman?

Why aren't women as concerned about exercising their mind as they are their body? Or getting in a daily act of generosity as they do a daily workout? 

Why must we fight against the natural softness of femininity in our pursuit of feminine beauty? 

Summers I wade my kids around the pool and think about this- how beautiful women are! Moms with toddlers balanced on hips, or nursing sweaty babies hidden beneath a beach towel, pregnant mothers with their fascinating round bellies. Tired eyes, gentle movements, soft proportions.

There are beautiful girls at the pool, for sure. They all look the same, they walk as aware of being watched.  I never was one of them, never knew how to be comfortable in my body; not until I became a mother did I learn to accept my body and its imperfections, even be glad for it.

I have no desire to look like the teenagers at the pool.  I don't care if to ever have visible abs. I like my mom body! I am proud of the fact that my body has stretched to make room for three babies, and nursed them, and has sacrificed sleep and meals and agendas. I like being thirty-five with it's spots of age and first streaks of grey, with it's quieter words and softness, it's laugh lines and evolving priorities.

I have heard women say that they do it for their daughters, that they are on the treadmill at ten at night because they want their daughters to have a healthy body image, to see their mother taking care of herself. That is great! But let's not leave out the things that make a woman, a woman- her heart and her courage, her wisdom and compassion, intuition and laughter. Let's not teach our daughters that beauty begins and ends with a body.


Ode
Elizabeth Alexander

I love all the mom bodies at this beach,
the tummies, the one-piece bathing suits,
the bosoms that slope, the wide nice bottoms,
thigh flesh shirred as gentle wind shirrs a pond.

So many sensible haircuts and ponytails!
These bodies show they have grown babies, then
nourished them, woken to their cries, fretted
at their fevers.  Biceps have lifted and toted

the babies now printed on their mothers.
"If you lined up a hundred vaginas,
I could tell you which ones have borne children,"
the midwife says. In the secret place or

in sunlight at the beach, our bodies say
This is who we are, no, This is what
we have done and continue to do.
We labor in love. We do it. We mother.



5 comments:

Brandee Shafer said...

I love this post and have something brewing, myself, regarding the Petraeus scandal. I cried, day before yesterday, for Holly.

I love mom bodies, too, but do men? Do our husbands love the bodies that have been the vehicles for their children? I'm not always convinced.

It breaks me, a little.

Jo@Mylestones said...

"let's not leave out the things that make a woman, a woman- her heart and her courage, her wisdom and intuition and laughter. Let's not teach our daughters that beauty begins and ends with a body."
YES! And I love that exhortation to get in that "daily act of generosity" as faithfully as a daily workout. You are SPOT ON as always, my friend. xoxo

Amy said...

Right on!!

Cami said...

Beautiful, especially reminding us of that "daily act of generosity". Love!

Ruth said...

I hadn't seen this Elizabeth Alexander poem, and I really like it. Great post, as usual.