I never had major body issues growing up. Of course there were things I didn’t love about myself as a teenager, but I was overall pretty happy with how I looked. I thought I was a good weight, I didn’t think I was too big or too small. I felt confident and wore what I wanted. I couldn’t really relate when people said they hated certain parts of their bodies or how they struggled to lose weight.
I never realized how lucky I was until my body changed drastically after I had two babies in two years. I was left with scars, stretch marks, and extra weight that I was not use to. I gained 35 pounds from my pregnancies. My stomach, hips, and thighs were where I saw the most change but I also saw extra weight in my face, arms, and back that I never had before. I also had large stretch marks all over my stomach, hips, thighs and even some on my chest. In addition to the baby weight, the gallbladder surgery I had almost immediately after giving birth to my second child left me with four distinct scars that span from my sternum to my belly button.
My husband always complimented me on the way I looked before and during my pregnancies, but after having kids I was afraid my husband would no longer find me attractive. I feared he would miss the skinny and stretch mark-less woman that he married, a woman that I felt was long gone.
It wasn’t until that point that I realized how much my self-confidence depended on how I felt about my body. As much as I loved the life I shared with my growing family, I started to hate my body. I couldn’t even look in the mirror. If I did catch a glimpse of myself, I would cringe. I would wish for plastic surgery, something I never thought I would ever desire. I became so focused on how I looked that I became disgusted with imperfections that I never noticed in other people.
I couldn’t change anything about the scars, but I started vigorously exercising eight weeks after having my second baby. My doctors recommended to start exercising very slowly, but I refused. I ended up making myself so sick by not resting that I had to stop working out and that made me hate myself teven more.
My husband never pressured me to work out and continued to compliment me, but I became deaf to his words and only saw my imperfections. My confidence got to such a low point that I felt I was unworthy of my husband’s love. I couldn’t have been more wrong. My husband never stopped telling me he thought I was beautiful. Eventually I started listening to him.
My husband taught me to love my body again, to love myself for me. He helped me to look past society’s view of beauty to see how amazing my body is because it shows all the incredible things it has been through. The imperfections that I once could not look at, I started to embrace. Thinking about all the things I hated about my body as being signs of our life together has given me a whole new outlook on myself.
My body tells a story from the small scar I have from playing with a broken Hot Wheels car as a six-year-old, to the scar I got from having my gallbladder removed after my daughter was born. I know I will feel the same way about my body as I begin to get older. The wrinkles around my eyes display all the times I have laughed so hard I couldn’t help but scrunch my face. The lines around my mouth show how happy my life has been and that I have a lot to smile about.
My husband helped me see my value when I couldn’t. He taught me to appreciate every imperfection because they are part of my story. No one else’s body has lived my life; it’s unique just like my story. That is something to always be proud of. My body is beautiful because it will continue to show the signs of the happy life I share with my husband.