Who says that things like stretch marks and a few extra pounds and less perky breasts are imperfections, anyway, when they occur naturally to almost all women? The media says so, but what authority do they have? Some men expect perfect, flat-stomached, blemish-free women. While there is nothing wrong with finding a certain body type attractive, the kind of man I want loves and accepts my womanly body, and respects that it is capable of miracles. He does not think of my pregnancy marks as imperfections, but rather a natural and even beautiful part of me. Men who base their attraction to me merely on how youthful and perfect my body is are too shallow to be attractive to me. They are also unrealistic and don't appreciate the natural signs of womanhood.
Fortunately, there seem to be plenty of men out there who do accept this type of body. I thought that as a single mom, I would become un-datable, both because of my child and because of my new post-baby body. But the opposite has come true and my dating life is actually
healthier and more fulfilling than it was previously. It is largely because I don't need men telling me I'm beautiful to feel beautiful. I know my body is beautiful, because look what it did, it made a child! I have come to love my wider hips and belly fat because they came with bigger boobs and better curves. I feel that my body has ripened into a true woman's body, full and curvy. For a while I was a skinny teenage girl and that was great. But now I am in my twenties and a mother. Naturally my body adjusted to that.
As a college student, there are multiple anxieties I face daily, including anxieties about myself. But for the first time in my college career, and really my whole life, I no longer feel anxiety about how hot my body is. I admire my body for what it is, not what it is told to be like by the mass media and judgmental men. I look back on before I was pregnant, and I can't believe how I based my attractiveness on the approval of society. Being skinny and perky meant everything to me. I felt so gross when I put on my freshman fifteen with sodium-rich college canteen food, and I felt so guilty when class and my part-time job left me too exhausted to work out. The pressure to look a way that was not natural for my body was tremendous; I felt I was not good enough. Now that I have learned my body was actually pretty hot after seeing it turn into a capital B, I am happy with just my not-pregnant shape. I accept that my body is a certain way, and I don't feel pressure to look different for the mere approval of others. I feel that the child I made gives my body a free pass: it performed a miracle and thus it is great in its own way. Now with less anxiety about my body, I can focus on what is really important, which is being a successful student in order to become a successful graduate who is able to provide for her child and herself.
My new healthy perspective on my body also affects the example I set for my daughter. Instead of worrying constantly about being perfect according to unrealistic standards, I have a new confidence in my body, a new pride in its natural shape, that sets a healthier standard for her to follow for her own body. I can show her that being skinny is not necessary to be lovely. Womanly curviness, stretch marks, bigger boobs – they are all signs of natural womanhood. Fighting being a woman with dieting and over-exercising is not the example I want to set for her. I also do not want to set the example for her that the media is correct, that women need to please men instead of just being themselves, that bodies must look a certain way and you are a freak if you are not a model. I want her to grow up confident in however her body looks, and able to love herself regardless of what the media and men think.
My body is no less beautiful than it was in younger years, it is just more mature. And more accomplished. I have earned my tiger stripes by producing a child. One day she will probably earn her stripes too, and I hope to have instilled the confidence in her to love herself no matter how many stripes she gets.