Inspired by Bethany Robinson
Remember when everyone had eyelash extensions? I didn’t get them because it seemed like an unnecessary expense… but I found myself feeling a little more self-conscious of my appearance around some circles of women who had hopped on the eyelash band wagon. Suddenly my regular old eyelashes didn’t quite seem to make the cut. Because let’s be honest, the fake ones looked kind of fabulous. How awesome was it that these women could roll out of bed looking hyper-feminine without so much as going near their make-up bags… and when they did whip the make-up bags out, it was like, “Hello Disney princess, Goodbye regular old human.”
I’m now starting to feel similarly about boob jobs. Especially now that I have a couple of kids, I’m hearing about more and more people in my age category who have either purchased their new and improved breasts, or who have a boob job savings in place for when they’ve finished having kids. It makes sense to me. I mean, you just made this huge contribution to society by giving birth to your children, and doing so left your breasts looking particularly sub-par, so why shouldn’t you at least get that part of yourself back? And even though your husband loves you the way you are, isn’t it only fair to both of you that he should be able to enjoy your body in its’ more perfect form? And since it’s pretty expensive, you don’t want to be wasteful by going back to an A or B cup. You should probably go up to at least a C or a D, because you want to look good in clothes too, don’t you? Especially if you’re a fit person, you should have the boobs that you want, because you’ve worked so hard (or have been lucky enough) to be able to maintain your body throughout pregnancy. Besides, as far as surgery’s go, the risks are pretty minimal.
Am I right girls?
These are the arguments that I hear from myself and other women (and even my husband while attempting to comfort me) on a regular basis. But despite how convincing they sound to someone who’s feeling insecure after pregnancy and breastfeeding, I can’t get rid of that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I hear them. I think sometimes what I really want to hear instead is that I look amazing because I look real. I want to hear that my children look better beside me than any bit of perfectly shaped silicone or saline ever could. I want to hear that I should stop being insecure and be more adoring of the body that allows me to do everything that I do each day and still dream to accomplish even more. I want to hear that I should celebrate my physical flaws with all of my personal attributes because, from them, I learn acceptance (And how can I be accepting of others when I don’t accept myself?) I want to hear that my body is strong; that my body is capable. I want to hear that when I’m old, I can still love my body, just like I can love it after having children.
Everyone loves the feminist message in Disney’s Frozen that “true love” doesn’t have to come from prince charming to break a spell. The love of a sister, in Anna’s case at least, does the trick rather nicely. So why do I feel like I have to wait for men (and society in general) to be okay with the way my body is before I can be? Sisters, we’re lying to ourselves if we think this body image thing is out of our control. Just like foot binding and corsets (historical bodily manipulations that posed health risks and physical limitations for the sake of hyper-feminine beauty), this boob job trend is being supported by women. And it’s not our mothers who sign us up for breast implants for the sake of an advantageous match… It’s just us.
I hope no woman reading this feels like I’m trying to tell her what to do with her body. I think what you choose to do to make yourself feel beautiful is a personal choice. But at the very least we can start with affirming each other in the qualities that matter most and focus a little less on the physical.
I had the privilege a few months ago of being there when one of the best women I know gave birth to her first child. I felt honoured to be present with her and her husband at such a terrifying, exciting, spiritual, and life altering moment in their lives.
The best laid plans…
Sometimes things don’t go the way you’d like them to when it comes to giving birth. I get that. And my friend got it too. But there’s still one thing that haunts me when it comes to remembering that experience. It wasn’t the puking, or the way her hands became stiff and contorted from the pain and fear all mixed together, or even the emergency c-section. It was the moment when the nurse looked my friend in the eye and said all too casually: “I know you’re in a lot of pain right now, but you’re actually not in labour.” That was the moment when I felt her spirit crumple. The moment when I felt something important and powerful being taken away.
The massive slap in the face
There are two major ways in which we as the general population understand the term labour. One as it relates to hard work, toil, exertion, or effort and another as it relates to the process of childbirth. I just looked it up to make sure, and the most common words associated with the verb labour are childbirth, birth, and delivery. Sounds fairly all-inclusive, right? Well apparently, not. I just came home from my neighbour’s house, who has undergone c-sections for each of her three children, and it turns out, that she had been told THE SAME THING her first time round; “You’re actually not in labour.” It seems to me that the medical definition of first stage labour as involving regular uterine contractions is being thrown far too lightly in the faces of women who are working with every mental and physical power they possess to ensure the safe and optimal arrival of their baby into this world. These women need all the love and the positive affirmation they can get. They don’t need to hear about technicalities that do nothing other than make their pain feel less real and their womanhood less validated. Of course they want the guidance of seasoned health professionals. That’s why they came to a hospital – but not like that. When I had a miscarriage, I wasn’t ever told that I hadn’t actually lost a baby, I’d lost a fetus. That would have been awful. It would have accomplished nothing other than to diminish my feelings of loss. So why do some health care professionals feel okay saying something similarly devastating to labouring mothers?
What to do
I can personally attest to the fact that the part of giving birth before you’re “in labour” enough to be admitted into the hospital can be the hardest part. But it’s not about that is it? It’s about celebrating the process of and the woman giving birth at every opportunity. It’s about realizing that our words have power. Not just in this, but in every instance. It’s a scary thing to see people who put a lot of intention and effort into hurting other people. But it’s almost just as scary to think that there are people who cause immense hurt and suffering almost without thinking or trying. So if you see someone who appears to be in a vulnerable situation, get on their team! And don’t be shy about it… other people might just get inspired (by you)!
There is too much sadness in this crazy world. I see it in the boy with the porn addiction and the girl with the cut marks on her arms and legs. I see it in my neighbours, friends, and loved ones… And sometimes, I see it in myself.
“Oh Crap, She’s Up”
The problem is, I don’t want to be sad and I don’t want anyone around me to be sad either. I think I’d rather be the kind of woman that when my feet hit the floor in the morning, the devil says, “Oh crap. She’s up.” But I can’t be that kind of person if I bury my head in the sand, hoping that some of the sadness will have dissipated by the time my children are old enough to feel it’s weight. Nope. It’s time to get real.
My husband has been trying to convince me to write a blog for years. Weird. I guess I wasn’t thinking of a blog the way I’m thinking about it now- as a place where I can exchange the crippling helplessness I feel for something a lot more…. Energetic. Gumption maybe? In any case, this is my attempt to find the virtue and transcendence amidst all the craziness. My attempt to look for ways to feel awe-inspired every day instead of weighed down.