What Makes a Body Beautiful?

I found out I was expecting Grace two months after my wedding.

She wasn’t exactly a honeymoon baby but there wasn’t a lot of time between becoming a newly-wed and becoming a mum.

So, when I found out I was pregnant, I still had my wedding dress figure, and let me tell you, it did not come easily.

I think I went without pizza for six months, I got up at 6am most days so I could fit in a session with a personal trainer before work.

It was tough, but I enjoyed it – I was strong, I was fit, I was in the best shape of my life by the time I walked down the aisle.

For the first time in my life I even felt able to pose for a picture in a bikini.

Fast forward six years and everything has gone a little bit south.

Okay, who am I kidding? It isn’t a little, it’s a lot, but then life has got in the way of my early morning work-outs and five-a-day, low fat, low sugar diet.

As a working from home mum with minimal childcare, I snatch opportunities here and there when I can sit down in front of my computer.

Most of the time, this is at 2am in between retrieving Ethan’s dummy from wherever he’s lobbed it, clutching a cup of tea in one hand and a packet of chocolate biscuits in the other.

Yes, I can easily polish off a whole packet of high calorie, fat laden delights in one sitting, but a girl has to have something to live for, right?

Meanwhile, my strict exercise regime now consists of sweating profusely as I wrestle Ethan in and out of his car seat while we transport his big sister to and from school, swimming, gymnastics, the list goes on and on and on.

The result is I no longer have a figure I’m proud of.

If I’m brutally honest, I look in the mirror and more often than not I don’t like what I see.

I tell myself that my body has done amazing things – there are two real, live people bringing me joy every day thanks to my body.

Some days it’s enough, other days it isn’t.

I don’t know how many times I’ve thrown a t-shirt or pair of jeans or blouse on the floor, tears in my eyes, because they don’t fit.

So, as I was scrolling through Facebook last night, an advert for a pair of post pregnancy leggings designed to flatten the mum tum caught my eye.

With my interest piqued, I clicked on the link to take a closer look.

The first thing that struck me, however, was the fact that the model pulling on the trousers looked like she’d never had a baby – not exactly a ringing endorsement for these miracle shape shifters.

The next thing I noticed were the outraged comments from women below.

Most were angry that a company that designs and sells clothes exclusively to pregnant women and new mums would market an item of clothing to help hide their mum bod.

Some even said they were so cross that they would boycott the company altogether.

However, I’m not sure I would be quite as cynical.

Yes, the company wants to make money, but is it so bad if the by product is that they help women feel confident and happy in their clothes?

In an ideal world there would be no need for these second skins to cover up our bumps and bulges.

Yet seconds after moving on from the advert, I came across a newspaper story that demonstrated why they’re in demand.

Apparently, a group of mums who dared to bare their post baby bodies for a Mothercare advertising campaign have attracted criticism from some obviously perfect specimens of the human form.

Here were these mums in all their glory, flashing cellulite, stretch marks and tummy overhangs without a care in the world.

A healthy dose of realism, I thought, the perfect anecdote to all the images of celebrities who ping back into their size six Gucci skinny jeans three minutes after welcoming their little person into the world.

So, I was genuinely in awe of these women proudly stripping off for the cameras, particularly as I choose my wardrobe according to how best I can disguise all the parts of my body I don’t like.

Even more impressive was the fact that they then went on national television to show off the photographs.

Yet, there were some people who were so offended by the images that they went to the trouble of taking to Twitter to express their revulsion.

“Please put your clothes back on,” wrote one faceless troll.

“I don’t think I want to see it,” said another.

How fortunate for these keyboard warriors to be so comfortable in their own skin that they feel confident enough to judge another person’s appearance.

As far as I’m concerned, the women who took part in the Mothercare campaign are to be celebrated for all their fleshy, lumpy, stripy glory, not belittled for their bravery.

I wish I shared their courage, I wish I could take my daughter swimming without worrying about my mum tum, but the fact is, no matter how much I tell myself it doesn’t matter, I still don’t love my body.

I know this is something I have to address – even just for my own little girl.

I would never ever want her to feel like she is anything other than a wonderful, sensitive, bright, kind and generous human being – and I don’t want her to learn from me that her self-worth should be wrapped up in whether she has cellulite or not.

It’s bad enough that I feel the way that I do, I certainly don’t want my precious little person ever feeling that way too.

Pic Credits: Mothercare.

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