Having a baby changes your body. Sometimes subtly, sometimes radically. In our perfection and body-obsessed society, we’re taught to rally against these changes with all our might.The goal is to be a mother who doesn’t look like one. This is consistent with our idea of beauty in general: the ideal is a woman who shows no mark of experience, whether from pregnancy, birth or just the passage of time. Men, get a little more slack in the wear and tear department: words like “rugged” and “distinguished” celebrate the flaws men are expected to accrue; a man’s attractiveness is more tied up in what he’s done with his life than how he avoids looking like he does anything.
If this double standard is annoying in regular life, it’s extra-annoying when faced with the radical body changes of pregnancy and birth. But maybe, instead of feeling bad about the fact that we have to feel bad about ourselves as we get “fat” and “wrinkly”, we should be looking at the men in our lives for inspiration. On the Shape of a Mother blog, a woman wonders: if I find my husband attractive with all his imperfections, why am I so worried that he won’t find me attractive unless I’m perfect?
The Shape of a Mother is a site dedicated to helping women see the beauty in their bodies after they have babies, and it’s an incredible resource for mothers at all stages. Here’s an excerpt from a mom’s post yesterday:
“I haven’t seen any websites for men to discuss their calloused hands, beer gut and flat butt. My husband has more stretch marks (due to steroids for a condition) and ACTUAL skin problems (eczema, psoriasis) than I do, but he doesn’t think himself ugly or unfit for intimacy. If I can love him for who he is and his looks, and I’m pretty sure you ladies feel the same way about your SO, then why of all whys do we question whether our men still find us attractive? Our men aren’t any beauty queens or underwear models themselves, but we put ourselves thru all kinds of mental and physical hell to be something we think our men desire. When on the flip side, they aren’t worried about doing it for us.
For example, I was watching Dr. Oz and he had some overweight women who felt insecure of their bodies and wanted help. Well right beside them was their overweight husbands. Why do they have to take on the unattractive burden when their husbands are no more attractive or in any better physical condition? But if you asked those same women how they felt about their husband, they’d say they love them unconditionally and looks didn’t matter. Unless they’re lying to make them feel good, why can’t men say what will make us feel good? Sounds unfair and one-sided don’t you think? But it’s possible for a man to actually consider our worth in terms of personality and inner beauty than looks alone. If men aren’t stressin’, neither should we. And we bring something even better to the table: our beauty is amplified by bringing life into this world.”
The standards women set for themselves are often much higher than the standards men hold them to. Maybe we can all take a tip from our husbands and cut ourselves some slack when we look in the mirror…or at the very least, when they tell us they look good, try to believe them.
Read the whole post at The Shape of a Mother.
photo: Emery Co. Photo