Since falling pregnant, like most first time mums, I am learning new things every single day and it can be quite overwhelming at times.
No matter how much research you do, or how many mothers you speak to, nothing can prepare you for this journey.
In my previous post I discussed my anxiety around how I would personally react to the dramatic changes my body was about to go through. Negative body image is something that I have struggled with my entire life, but for the past few years I can proudly and confidently say that I’m at peace with myself.
I did try to prepare myself as best I could for the inevitable explosion of emotions that I had been told accompany a woman during pregnancy. So far I feel as though I am managing my emotions well (although my husband my see differently). When it comes to my body and how it is changing daily, I’m totally OK with all of it.
In fact, I’ve surprised myself somewhat as to how calmly I’ve welcomed every new stretch mark and varicose vein!
Pregnancy is incredible and viewing my body in a negative way is the last thing on my mind. However this isn’t the case for many other pregnant women. These changes together with heightened emotions can be extremely difficult for some women to deal with. Even if body image was never an issue before, research tells us that for women, the stages when our body is changing and we have no control, such as puberty, pregnancy and menopause, are all times when body image concerns can and often do arise.
It also doesn’t help when other women make negative comments or statements.
It is certainly something that I wasn’t prepared for.
Recently, an acquaintance told me that I looked ‘so big’ for only being 5.5 months pregnant. “Wow, you’re huge” were some of her words. But it wasn’t just the words, it was the look she gave me, and the body language that she used. I felt very strongly that she was making a negative statement, which really confused me. Why would someone say that?
Now, given my experience, comments people make about my body or appearance no longer impact me. I didn’t take the comment personally, but it got me thinking about how much emphasis women continually place on appearance.
But what I found so intriguing about this comment, was that it came from a young female, who has no children of her own and has never been pregnant.
And in that exact moment I realised that as women we still have such a long way to go, and it confirmed in my mind that body image awareness and promoting positive body image within society is still so incredibly important, especially education around the type of language we use when discussing body image.
One day I hope the need for promoting positive body image no longer exists, I would of course be out of a job, because there would no longer be a need for me to share my story and encourage other women to see beyond their physical appearance. One day I hope that young women in particular have enough self-confidence and self-respect that they don’t need to limit themselves or others based on beauty ideals.
I’ve been involved in this space for many years, and there are times when I think finally we as a society are moving forward, but we aren’t there yet.
So until then … we all must keep positive body image in our conversations. The body bashing and body shaming has to stop.
We have to be positive role models for future generations.