At 16 weeks, my increasingly protruding belly has had me thinking about my body image quite often lately. I feel very “large and in charge,” and I know that my belly is going to expand a LOT more than I could even imagine right now. The more I obsess over it, the more I have been thinking about how society socializes girls to think about their bodies. Even as little children, we’re taught through media and society that a curve here or a larger than normal body part there renders us completely unattractive. I cringe when I hear very thin women talking about how big their calves are or how disgusted they are when their upper arms jiggle. We spend way too much time worried about imperfections that we perceive.
Now that I actually do have a noticeable belly, I realize how inaccurate my perceptions of my body have always been. Even when I was in great shape, I never wore shorts because I felt like my thighs were too big and I always had an obsession over my stomach because I didn’t have washboard abs. The fact is that I have an athletic build – my thighs will always be bigger than some because they are muscular…and that translates with any other body part I might obsess over.
These revelations about my own body image have freed me in a way, but I still am struggling with the way my body is changing. Trying to reprogram my brain from wanting to hide my stomach to celebrating in my new bump is difficult. I hate looking at myself in the mirror without clothes on, because my stomach is growing straight out. It makes me self-conscious to see the stretch marks that are sprouting there and worries me to think of how many I will have once my due date rolls around. I’m a work in progress, but I’m trying. I think pregnancy liberates women to look at their bodies in a new way, and perhaps appreciate what they have even more after delivery.