I've written before about how I had a (very elaborate) fantasy about how easy losing weight would be postpartum. I truly imagined that I would shrink down to nothing, due to my breastfeeding and activity and going walking 2 weeks postpartum! None of those things happened, hilariously enough. I did manage to give birth to a 6-pound baby and an impressive 6-pound placenta, and then managed to pee out about 10 additional pounds of water.
Yes, water. For two weeks after Forrest was born, I would wake up just soaked in sweat. The horrible part was that, of course, I was barely sleeping, but I knew if I fell asleep for even an hour, I would wake up completely and totally soaked. That's what postpartum life is like: everything hurts and you start sweating out all the extra liquid you saved up over 9 months for your joints and body. And in my case, I had been VERY swollen.
After that, things stopped. I didn't lose any more weight, mainly because I couldn't think about it. Alongside taking care of Forrest, pumping, and eating whatever I could to keep my milk supply up (cheesecake? Tried it), I didn't really care. Then, around 12 weeks postpartum, I cared. I suddenly, crushingly cared.
I also still care. I told Danny the other day that I know I have pretty severe body dysmorphia issues and I'm never 100% confident that what I see in the mirror or in photos is what I actually look like. Sometimes, I look in the mirror and I'm like, oh I'm not that big! It's not so bad! But then I'll see, say, a family photo and I'll think, I've transformed into a small whale. I am baby Beluga. Under the sea, where I should be.
I have absolutely no idea which one is accurate. Am I huge? Am I chubby but otherwise normal looking? Am I slowly engulfing the planet? No idea.
My body image issues aren't helped by the fact that I align myself, wholeheartedly, with body positivity. It's so easy for me to look at my mom friends and say, "You're gorgeous. Never change. You are the most beautiful woman on the planet." And of course, it's easy for them to say it in return. It's harder to say it to ourselves, to look in the mirror and say, "You look great, even if you're not [insert desired size here.]"
I feel very torn with the idea of trying to be body positive, but also being aware that I desperately want to be a different size. It's all well and good to preach body positivity until I'm tearing myself down, privately and painfully, for being a size that, generally speaking, some people would kill to be.
I've been losing weight recently (I have no idea how much and for the sake of my mental health, I don't actually weigh myself--but the people around me assure me that I do, indeed, look smaller) and wondering if losing weight negates all the body positivity work I've done in the past few years.
It's difficult to think what changing my body says to other people. But, living as an overweight person the last two years, especially while pregnant, did a number on my self-esteem... not that my self-esteem was that great to begin with. The way people treat me, ignore me, act like I am taking up space that I'm not allowed is incredibly difficult to live with--and, of course, I want to change it.
I don't want to change my body just to please other people; but I do want to lose weight to be taken more seriously in my job. Plus, I just want to feel better about myself: I hate getting dressed, I hate taking pictures. I don't take pictures with Forrest simply because I know what I look like. That's hard to wrestle with.
With all that being said, I hate that I've allowed myself to feel that I should change just because of how other people treat me (and how I perceive they see me.) I don't think anyone should lose weight or change their appearance to make other people happy. If it makes them happy, sure, go for it--but not other people.
And even though I tell Danny that I just want to be able to wear the clothes I want, to be able to shop anywhere and feel confident and not like the sales associates can't wait to get me out of there, I also want to lose weight so people are nicer to me. I don't want to be called a fat ass while crossing the street anymore (a real thing that happened, yes.)
I also don't want to have a teenager point at me, during the middle of my next pregnancy, and say, "You think that's pregnant? That's just fat." (Yes, another real thing that happened.) I'm tired of being made to feel inconsequential because of others. I just want to be taken seriously.
I just want to be seen as the hard worker I am--and, by and large, most people see overweight people as stupid and lazy, a fact that could not be further from the truth for a vast majority of the population.
I try my hardest, every day, to be body positive. I have lost friends over calling them out for negative comments, calling others "fat" (as a clear insult), or trying to make others feel bad about their bodies. I try to treat myself with love and kindness. It's hard to lose weight, but I don't want to lose my ability to treat all bodies positively in the process.
That just means I have to work at it a little bit harder than everyone else.