Why I Don’t Hide My Body from My Kids

Why i Don't Hide My Body From my KidsAs I sat waiting in the chair outside the dressing room, I could picture what was going on: The quiet snaps and fabric stretching, then the frantic removal of clothing. Another try, maybe this one would be better. No, no, no. This one has to be a winner—no. An exasperated sigh escapes, as she returns the clothing to the hanger and dresses herself again. There’s a long pause before she exits the dressing room.

“Did you find anything, Mom?”

“…No. I didn’t.”

The time spent together after each swimsuit shopping attempt was always in silence. Eventually, my mother stopped trying, and our summers were spent with her always on the side of the pool, reading a book.

And now, as a mother myself, I have so much empathy for that valiant woman who sacrificed so much for me; one of those sacrifices, of course, was the body she had before children. Her mother-body didn’t measure up to the beauty standards set for women. And though I never considered myself magazine cover-worthy, my postpartum lumps, sags, and stretches have me even further from contention.

But when my little boy lifted my shirt during a tickle fight and said, “Mommy, your tummy is big like a trampoline!” I fought the urge to cower, to cover, or to hide. Instead, I laid back, pulling my shirt up to my bra.

“My tummy is big, baby! You know why?”

His eyes looked at me in curious wonder.

“It is so big because you used to live in it! Can you believe that? And your brothers and your sister lived in it. And some people have their babies live in their tummies, and their tummies get small again. And some people, like me, have babies live in their tummy and their tummy stays big! Isn’t that so neat? Isn’t it neat that our bodies can do great things, and are all different?”

I lost a part of my mom when she was told she didn’t measure up. I’m doing what I can to tell my kids that they get to decide what the standard is.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway.

 

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