This is the body image blog that I’ve always thought about writing but never really articulated.
Whilst I strive to be body positive and I always look at other people’s bodies with admiration- I seem to occasionally struggle with my own.
When I was a small child, I was known as the ‘runt of the litter’. I was the last born of five children and was super lanky and skinny. I also had a lot of body hair on my arms, legs and after a few remarks I also believed I had a moustache that I desperately wanted to get rid of! I really, really wanted to put on weight. I would cry about it, I begged my mum to buy me children’s weight gain powder from the health food shop, but she wouldn’t.
I didn’t really have much of an issue with eating. I always loved veggies (except for peas which I would flick off my plate or to my dog under the table).
As I grew up I remained quite ‘skinny’, and when I hit puberty and also started doing a bit of training for rowing, my thighs grew and became strong and I developed stretch marks on the inside of my legs. It wasn’t until I moved to Canada that I gained weight. Lots of drinking + eating shitty food gave me a fantastic layer of fat for the cold winter. It gave me a few odd stretch marks on my sides, part and parcel of having love handles and nothing I cared too much about!
When I was pregnant I felt bloated, but pretty good! I was moisturising as much as I could, and as soon as I was ‘allowed’ to use bio oil, I did (check the label! I think it’s after trimester 1!). After about 12 weeks my boobs had grown to a huge size, and it was really itchy underneath them. I though it was growing pain or some kind of weird pregnancy thing, but when I lifted up my gigantic boobs I noticed... STRETCH MARKS! All fucking under them. Bright red, itchy little fuckers. I was mad! But you know when you grow a cup size or two in a couple of months it’s kind of expected. Oh well! They’re only underneath my boobs so no one can see it anyway. For the most part I loved my growing pregnancy body, my boobs were full, I loved my bump, skin was great!
I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at about 32 weeks which was a bit of a blow to my pregnancy experience. I wanted to just sit on the couch and eat a bowl of mashed potato or snickers and cookie dough but nope! Ya girl had to count carbs (something I had NEVER done in my life). I would have to prick my fingers multiple times a day and check my sugars were all good, and also did some exercise before bed to help with my fasting levels. I am so grateful I was diet controlled throughout this experience as I am terrified of needles- and please note being pregnant you endure a lot of needles/blood tests etc!
I went down to Melbourne when I was 30 weeks pregnant, and I had a little whinge about my boobs getting saggy and my new stretch mark that had developed on my stomach. Eli had made a stupid comment about them being saggy, kind of trying to agree with me and be nice but also kind of destroying me and requiring me to lock myself in the bathroom of the mantra in Saint Kilda and cry for half an hour! Reminds me of when Eli tried to be nice to me and said, like Hannah I love you more than anything but I love Clementine..more? Do you know what I mean?
As time goes on those stretch marks go wild and spread all over my stomach, and I don’t give 2 shits because I am a tired, pregnant woman and my baby is healthy and my main focus is on my impending birth which I couldn’t wait for, as we had just moved into a boiling fucking hot house with no aircon!
So in these days when you’re not working and you’re just all pregnant and hot, you start following some instamums! Yay! Time for some realness... except the day after birth they look like they were never pregnant? Hmm. Ok. So is there a chance that this will happen to me?? No! Because I’m a short ass, who can probably count the number of times she’s been to the gym on one hand, and I don’t ‘diet’. You can see from my previous body change experience that I literally will gain a stretch mark if I even eat a bloody burger so it comes with no surprise I ended up with a belly full of them. I also would rather spend that small window of time away from my baby with my friends or relaxing rather than exercising.
Here's another thing!! Stretch marks all come down to your skin/genetics- no magical oil is going to totally prevent or cure them- NOT THAT I USE PLASTIC BAGS ANYMORE BECAUSE THAT SHIT IS NOT OK- BUT- Imagine you have a plastic bag, and you grab the side of and you pull it, and it stretches- the colour changes, it gets all wrinkly, and it is a weaker part of the bag now- THERE YOU HAVE IT, THAT'S A STRETCH MARK. How can you 'fix' this plastic bag? You don't fix the plastic bag. Even if you cut that piece of plastic bag out and glued it together it's not going to look like the same plastic bag, it's going to have a line in it! It still works the same though.
You can see some pictures of me at about 4 months post partum here if you'd like!
Ok now I am going to talk about my fashion crisis I had post birth. I've always considered myself as a 'weird' kind of dresser. The vast majority of my clothes I have bought from op shops or from flea markets in Europe! I, like many others, do enjoy a bit of 90s grunge fashion, a bit of 70s fashion- basically any era bar the one we are in now. I would rock a bold crop top, a no bra halter with some high waisted levis- I felt very liberated and felt as if my clothing choices were endless- I could wear a hessian bag, chuck a belt on it and some platform boots and be totally confident. WELL THAT ALLLL FUCKIN CHANGED DIDN'T IT- After I gave birth and my boobs went from a pert 10DD to a saggy pancake 14F or something crazy- I literally could tuck my nipples into my shorts if I wanted to, but I tried, and it hurt my back and it looked TERRIBLE.
This soft blur wasn't intentional. Neither was my pose. My front camera is a piece of shit.
So I tried to wear my 'regular' clothes post birth but it just felt wrong, and I found that my tastes had changed- I only wanted to wear Spell! Some flowy, patterny thing which made me feel pretty without showing off the lumps and bumps I wasn't used to yet. I got really into the swap and sell sites, ( I still am a bit into them but lack the funds and the clothes to be able to swap/sell/buy)- I built up a bit of a collection and culled A LOT OF SHIT. IT was liberating. If I didn't love it, put it in the bag to get rid of it!
I am slowly shunning these flowy things, as I feel like they clash with my tattoos and my hair (it's currently blue). I have never felt like a 'pretty' person, and always was jealous of those long-haired, tall, feminine looking women who were smiling and twirling on their instagram. That's just not me though- I don't think I am ugly or anything, but it's just not in my nature to be like that. None of my travels are my flitting about Europe laughing in an expensive dress- They're mostly self-timed pictures on a cheap camera, that I have taken so that I can go to my kids one day- and Mummy went here by herself, and here and here and here and here is the proof because that's me right there!
One amazing thing about giving birth is that it really puts things in perspective- and though I do feel unattractive sometimes and get upset about my stomach and boobs- I also think. WHO THE FUCK CARES?! Like its a shape of a body, like come on. Ohhh you have abs of steel, that's good for you, you obviously put a lot of effort into that, so good job- I lack discipline so I take my hat off to you-I choose not to do that with my time. Oh you're really thin and you've got fake boobs and you're turning towards the camera in a high waisted bikini in Bali? Good on you! That's what you wanted and you did it and you are feeling yourself, love yourself, I fucking love it- I might even chuck you a like!
Another thing that is annoying is when people say that don't body shame but like, 'dress to your body shape' LIKE THEY INVENTED FASHION!? like WTF? WHO ARE YOU MATE-ON YOUR FUCKING BIKE. Wear whatever the fuck you feel like it, if you're fat- you don't have to wear a goddamn Muumuu! You don't have to wear Spanx- those bad boys are going to give you thrush and YOU KNOW IT. And one last thing to finish off, when people say 'oh no but fat people are unhealthy'. UMMM where did you get your degree from babe? Cos I'm pretty sure last week I saw you racking up a line of an unidentified substance off the soap dispenser in a port-a-loo, I do not think that is healthy... JUST SAYIN'.
To read more from Hannah, visit her blog at https://www.theafterlife.com.au/
you won't regret it!