The Body-Positive Movement Gives Me Mom Guilt

Yesterday morning, I did a HIIT workout in my living room and grabbed a shower — all while my baby took her morning nap. I felt invigorated and accomplished. After drying off, I crept into the bedroom that my husband and I share with our daughter, careful not to wake her. I reached into my dresser, and in a moment of confidence, I pulled out my prepregnancy skinny jeans… and I attempted to try them on.

Nope. They didn’t fit yet. But I’m getting there. This fact should make me feel proud, but instead, I feel… conflicted.

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Every single person I talk to seems to have a different definition of the “postpartum period” — and when it actually ends. If you talk to Dr. Google, you’ll find most sources saying it’s anywhere from six weeks to six months. But if you talk to me, just a plain old mom (times two) with zero medical degrees, I would say it can vary even more than that. What “postpartum” means to you as a parent is a very different thing from what it means to me — and I believe parents themselves are the only ones who can truly say, “I finally feel like I’m out of that postpartum period.”

I’m currently 14 months post-baby, and I sometimes go back and forth about how I feel — on the inside and the outside, specifically when faced with dreaded conversations (or even thoughts) about “the baby weight.”

Sure, seeing your body change to accommodate and birth another human before your eyes is magical; you’re doing something so amazing to bring this new life into the world. But after you push that little being out, you may just want to feel like a regular-old human again. At least that’s where I am.

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I worked really hard preparing myself mentally for how I would feel about my body the second time it gave birth. And I realized that above everything, I need to be kind to myself and let the weight disappear in a healthy way in its own time. I believe in me and my ability to make healthy decisions, and I’m a full supporter of the body-positive movement that’s finally in the public eye (in my dreams, Ashley Graham and I are friends). But that doesn’t mean I’ll ever find carrying around unhealthy extra weight acceptable for myself. There, I said it.

How can I be 100 percent body-positive if I don’t feel 100 percent like this body is 100 percent mine? That’s the kicker for me at least.

After having my daughter a little over a year ago, I’ve worked my ass off with my fitness and overall health routine, mostly because I love to run and do yoga and jog with the baby in the stroller. It’s in those moments, when I’m taking care of my body, that I feel amazing.

This is what I’m left wondering: Is there such pressure put on moms — on all bodies for that matter — to just be proud, be big and accept the way we are that we can’t be open anymore about wanting to fit back into those pre-baby jeans? Has our culture shifted so much that we went from one extreme (stressing out about “bouncing back” postpartum) to another (stressing out about being “body-positive enough”)?

I feel almost scolded for being somewhere in between. And I wonder if this is what a lot of new moms are actually feeling but are too scared to admit. I know I’m supposed to embrace this postpartum body of mine, but damn — I want those old skinny jeans hanging in my closet to slide on and zip up easily the way they used to.

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It’s like they call to me. Beckoning me with their skinny zipper and fabric with just the right amount of stretch. Of course, they’re the perfect wash that pairs beautifully with every top hanging in my closet. I miss them, and I like to think they miss me too. And with each passing day, I watch my efforts make an impact, and I know those beloved jeans will eventually be mine again.

I’m OK with the journey this new body has taken me on; it brought me my second child, after all. I just wish I didn’t feel so guilty for wanting those heavenly skinnies to fit me once again — and to reunite with that piece of my long-lost prepregnancy self.


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