Firstly, I would like to say a very Happy Mother’s Day to all you amazing Moms and Mother figures. I hope you were suitably treated last weekend and at least given some quality and uninterrupted gaming time! Secondly, I know a lot of readers are from the US and I’m posting from the UK with the below, so please internally change all the ‘Mums’ to ‘Moms’.
I saw an advert this morning for a bodice thing that hides ‘Mum tums’. I’ve got a similar one in my drawer that I hate. I bought it for an event to look ‘better’ by hiding how I actually look. I’ve noticed that since having children, I’m bombarded with adverts all telling me that I must be hideous now but luckily I can spend lots of money to change it. I’ve recently had a hysterectomy, and am coming to terms with the emotional upheaval of that & all that comes with it. And I’ve realised that it actually makes me angry.
Specifically (on this occasion) the ‘change your natural shape’ adverts. Stop advertising things to erase our childbearing shape, let us feel sexy without feeling like we need a sausage skin! Don’t get me wrong, I love sausages; not the ones that have been rammed with husk or breadcrumbs. I prefer the more natural ones, with interesting flavours. Maybe something a bit different, beetroot or mushroom or a combination that will inevitably be instagrammed because it looks so amazing. No-one instagrams a sausage bulked out with sawdust, it’s not a real sausage. So why do we do it to ourselves? We might not bulk ourselves out, but we fake ourselves out. Spanx fakes us out. Not being able to breathe or walk comfortably or feel like ourselves, or using things we’re not happy or comfortable with just to feel ‘pretty’ all fakes us out. And this isn’t just women, it’s all of us. Because maybe you’re prime rib, maybe you’re beautifully light chicken with rosemary, or maybe you’re a colourful trio of beetroot, carrot & pine nut. And if we saw the ingredients laid out on a board, we wouldn’t think they weren’t delicious because they weren’t wrapped in sausage skin. Sausage skin wraps ingredients for convenience, not beauty. The beauty of sausages of all flavours is the hugely wide range of ingredients & what makes them them.
Admittedly, my sausage metaphor is leading me down some strange roads. But my point is not a new one; but not an old enough one that enough of us believe it. We all have beautiful bodies that do amazing things, we are made up of the same organs but life provides us all with original ingredients that shape our lives and our bodies.
For example, to use my own experience; child bearing is not easy on a body, and is also a very unique process. I had two C-sections and various complications that have left me with scars and bumps and all sorts. Some women don’t know they’re pregnant until towards the end & don’t show. Some women throw up & immediately know they’re pregnant before a pregnancy test would. Some women get terrible heartburn, some people have awful hip pain, some women have barely any internal symptoms. The potential 'ingredients' are endless. And our bodies do what they need to do & all they can do. And heartbreakingly, some women’s bodies have scars or shapes as the only reminder that they were pregnant.
But whatever happens, even excluding making & growing children, our bodies are shaped by our lives. If we want to, it can be possible to change those shapes, to a certain extent we can choose our ingredients. But we should all appreciate our body’s potential to look after us & the shape is a celebration of that. Adjust your packing if it makes YOU happy (thought I was done with the food stuff analogy didn’t you...) if you like hats, find the snazziest one you can, if you feel more comfortable blending in, do so with pride. But your face, your body, your look, who you are, is so deliciously & wonderfully you. And that isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s something to be honoured, appreciated and loved.
It’s mental health awareness month, & our mental health is so intrinsically linked to how we feel about ourselves, and a lot of that is how we feel about how we look. I used to have a picture of what I wanted to look like in my head, based on...(classic hang up incoming) portrayals of beauty in the media. A ridiculously skewed view of reality. I’ve had 2 gorgeous children, a life of experiences and events that have taken me down certain paths. My stretch marks, my wobbly bits, my (post child birth) oddly dark hairs on my neck, are a map of who I am & where I’ve been. And I’m starting to learn to embrace and cherish that as the most valuable momento I have in this life. I never thought I’d necessarily relate feeling comfortable in my body to exotic versions of sausages; but that’s where we’ve got to friends! Beauty is within us all & it shines the brightest when we ourselves can see it. So instead of adverts for ‘getting rid of Mum tum’, how about we get adverts for things that help us be the healthiest version of ourselves. More options for therapy, more options for understanding nutrition, cheaper and more accessible exercise options for all. But most importantly, let’s stop seeing someone else’s journey & comparing negatively to our own. Let’s not forget, no person truly happy with themselves feels the need to tear someone else down; so if anyone attempts to negatively skew your view of yourself, that is very much their issue and not a reflection on you.
You are not a sausage, but even if you were, you’d be really bloody delicious!