Just a thought on this snowy, Monday night, for what it’s worth:
One of my best friends called me last week to tell me she was pregnant. I was overcome with joy and excitement for her. She is embarking upon such an incredible journey, one only a woman can know, and I am so happy for her. I cannot wait to help pick out baby clothes, throw her a shower, and hear all of the details about being a new mommy.
After the screaming, jumping around, and laughing, we got to talking about some real issues. People have already been telling her about things she should and shouldn’t be doing while pregnant. Some are obvious- don’t drink. Others, not so much- don’t take certain medicines or engage in certain activities. She was worried that she was doing things she wasn’t supposed to and not taking precautions she should. She was also worried about eating properly. Suddenly, my naturally tiny friend is faced with the responsibility of not just feeding herself, but also eating enough good, healthy food to support a growing baby.
This situation got me thinking. Why do women, for the most part, only begin to care about their own well-being when they become responsible for a baby’s well-being?
I’m particularly concerned about this as I see more and more friends treat their bodies terribly in an effort to “lose weight” or to “be thin”. These are beautiful, strong, intelligent young women who are denying themselves proper nutrition and most importantly, peace of mind, because they are chasing an arbitrary number on the scale. It is only when we are forced to “eat for two” that we think it’s acceptable to eat more than fake diet food or to gain a few pounds.
Aren’t we worth this all the time? Shouldn’t we fuel our bodies with the best food possible, and treat ourselves as well as possible, on a regular basis? The vast majority of women will never, ever look like a supermodel. Being stick-figure thin is not healthy. Alternatively, being obese is not healthy. The way many women in America look is not healthy.
However, there is a way to achieve a healthy weight through regular exercise and a diet of whole, clean foods. It’s what pregnant women do. Pregnant women do not take diet pills. They do not drink chemical-laden diet drinks. They do not eat gross, processed food. Why? Because it is bad for the baby.
When women are pregnant, they gain some weight. It is understood that in order to support life, a woman’s body needs to be accommodating to it. Gaining a few pounds while you’re pregnant is no big deal, but the thought of gaining any weight at all while not pregnant is enough to send the average woman into a panic attack.
Now, I am not saying I am perfect. I struggled with unhealthy eating and weight issues for a long time before I got to the place I am at now. Some days, I still hate my hips and wish I could drop 10 pounds. But most days, I’m happy being me. I eat good, whole foods. I fuel my body properly. I am smart, I am strong, and I am healthy. And most importantly, I have finally come to understand that “being thin” and “losing weight” are not the only important things in life.
I think that if we could all look at our bodies the way an expectant mother looks at hers: as the most important force in creating a healthy baby, we would be much more likely to accept ourselves for what we are. We are beautiful, smart and strong. We are capable of being healthy, happy and well at our natural weights. Women are much more than numbers on a scale and inches on jeans, and it should not take pregnancy to open our eyes to that fact.
Love your body for what it is today, treat yourself right today, and you will forever be amazed at what it can give you in return. There is no reason to hate what your mother gave you, afterall.