5 Ways Moms Can Learn to Love Their Bodies Even if They Really 'Hate' Them

Mom Moment 7

mom and son on beachEarlier this morning, a survey over on TODAY Moms caught my eye because of a simple question it poses that just happens to be something I've struggled with for years.

It reads, "Do you love your body?"

And upon seeing it, I immediately blurted out, "No. I hate it." And then I felt like "hate" was a little too harsh, so in my mind, I thought to myself, "I guess I don't hate it. I just don't love it. And I wish it looked a hell of a lot better."

Want to guess what I did next? Duh, I took the survey. And some of the results really surprised me and gave me a much needed wake-up call.

This particular survey allows you to answer each question and then see how other women have answered, which reaffirmed my suspicions that most of us generally aren't happy with the way we look.

But it's the reasons the majority of us aren't happy that shocked me a little bit.

For example, when asked the question, "Does seeing images of Hollywood moms looking super-fit after having a baby make you feel worse about your own body?" -- I expected most women to answer, "No." We all know they have personal trainers, chefs, and all sorts of other resources that make it easier for them to bounce back into shape.

But 67 percent said yes, which means celebrities are a much bigger self-esteem killer than a lot of us want to admit.

And another question was a real eye opener: "How did having children change the way you feel about your body?"

Get this one -- 70 percent of women (myself included) answered, "Worse, I don't like the way I look after having kids."

Sigh. Isn't it a shame that so many of us beat ourselves up and loathe our bodies instead of realizing just how strong and miraculous they are?

A couple of years ago, I managed to bust out of the "I hate my post-baby body" funk, and I embraced the way I looked and finally started feeling sexy again. I let go of the unrealistic expectation of looking like I did on my wedding day. I even coined the term "Mom Sexy" to describe my newfound love and appreciation for every single lump, bump, and imperfection.

But somewhere along the line, I lost it again. And lately, I've been back to absolutely despising the way I look.

After seeing this survey, however, it's clear that I need to go back to the mindset I was in two years ago -- and start loving my body as it is now, not trying in vain to look the way I did 10 years ago. If I did it before, I can do it again -- and so can you.

Here are five ways to love and embrace your body, even if you think you really hate it.

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others -- We're all guilty of this, but we have to remember that everybody and every body is different, and that's ok. You'll never learn to love your own body if you can't stop focusing on someone else's. (See, it's ok to be selfish sometimes.)
  2. Focus on being healthy instead of being skinny -- It never fails. When I stop obsessing over the scale, and instead simply eat healthy and work out a few times a week, I start to look at myself differently in the mirror. 
  3. Look at your kids -- Yes, literally stop and stare at your children at least once a day, and remember how hard your body worked to bring them into this world. It is pretty amazing what our bodies can do, right?
  4. Cut yourself some slack -- Think of it this way: Do you expect a 10-year-old car to look as pretty and polished as it did when you first got it? Nope. We take our fair share of wear and tear over the years too -- and that's ok. Give yourself a break, already.
  5. Think about what makes you happy -- This sounds weird, but it works. When are you most happy? Chances are it's when you're in the company of good friends, spending time with your family, etc. Now picture yourself doing those things 10, 20, or however many pounds lighter. Do you think your happiness would change at all? (Nope.)

What do you love and appreciate about your body?

 

Image via Mary Fischer

body, self esteem

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Maggie Kolb

I have never understood body hatred. I just think of my body as the thing that carries my brain and spectacularly awesome head around. I like my body in that it has served me well, helped me grow my babies, allows me to feel pleasure, I marvel at the complexities of the nervous system in general, really. I am in constant pain from rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic migraines, but I still don't hate my body. It makes me mad that people with perfectly good bodies hate them, literally HATE them, because of extra skin, fat, and stretch marks. I'm not mad at the person, I know this is something insidious that becomes ingrained early, and I watched my friends and sister helplessly fall victim to the clutches of the horrible lie "I would like myself more if I was thinner". I am mad at the lie.

Stacey. Stacey.

I used to hate my body, especially my cellulite and stretchy skin on my stomach. Then I had major health issues regrading my heart and lungs that severely altered my enjoyment of day to day life, to where I couldnt even walk 10 feet without being out of breath and my heart rate jumping to almost 200 bpm. This was a major wake up call to me, and now that I am slowly getting my health back it has made me look at my body in a whole new way. It really is "whats inside" that counts. Appearance is null and void if youre not healthy.


 

Blues... Blueshark77

I'm sorry you are in pain, Maggie!


Sometimes when I'm feeling bad about myself, or when someone says something to make me feel bad about my image, I do remind myself I have a strong, healthy body that works. My sisters tease me a lot because they are both very petite while I'm more of an amazon, but I am much stronger than they are and have never had a broken bone. One teases me about my average size nose, instead of the smaller nose she has (and paid for!). We love each other and tease each about stuff all the time, but they really harp on my looks more than anything. Still I look at my life with my steady relationship with a great guy, a baby on the way, having fun doing outdoor stuff and traveling, and realize that I have done all these things regardless how I look and I'm a happy person. Don't let your looks be the thing that keeps you from having a happy, fulfiiling life.

Maggie Kolb

Blueshark, thank you, but the pain has allowed me to be blessed by others so often, in addition to revealing the depth of my own strength, that while I would probably trade it in if I could, I would miss the blessings that came with it.

Mommi... MommietoJB

The 5th one is a good point.

PonyC... PonyChaser

This is a refreshing commentary in a world, and on a site, that regularly shames "fat" people. Those of us who are not in "perfect" bodies, who carry extra weight around, are constantly told that we are "too fat to ______", and told that we should be ashamed of the way we look and live. We are told that we are lazy, gluttonous, and stupid. We are told that our very existence sickens those who must lay eyes upon us.


It is very difficult to then turn around and be proud of a body that, while it looks "curvy" or "lumpy" or "fat", may be strong at the core. It can be done, but it takes more effort than you can imagine.


I have hated my body for as long as I can remember. From days when I was a skinny little girl attending dance classes four days a week, through high school when I walked everywhere, through college and beyond, when my body started to rebel and gain weight. From the time I was a little girl, I was told I was fat, even when I wasn't. It's hard to overcome that. Now, at 43, I still struggle daily with body image. I don't believe the man who tells me I'm gorgeous because I have a whole society telling me I should hide away and be ashamed.

Blues... Blueshark77

You have a fantastic attitude, Maggie! It's not always easy to see the silver lining.

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