Absentmindedly, while watching TV, perpetually breastfeeding, I am playing with a roll of fat on my side. It is a new addition. My skin is looser now, around the middle, more pliable, softer. It feels nice to touch. It looks—well, whatever. I’m not thrilled about how it looks. My midwife said, “Yes, it will look tighter, after six months or so. No, it will never look the way it did.” Then she told me I was getting my period again, already. So that was a cheerful exchange.
The new moms I meet are always talking about their bodies. First we talk about our babies, then we talk about our bodies. We are a little uneasy about them, they seem unfamiliar, they have been changed and then changed again and what will they even do next? Who knows! The babies are cute, though.
“I have stretch marks on my boobs,” I was telling a friend. You know, just making conversation.
She said that her husband didn’t know what stretch marks were at first and he thought hers were pretty. And I remembered that the first time I saw them, on a guy, not a woman, I thought they were pretty, too. Silverly and iridescent. They have a magical sheen. It’s funny and random how we learn about ugliness—where to look for it. Where it’s supposedly hiding.
(I googled “iridescent wings” and the jewelry that popped up is really nice!! source)
Bear said the other day, “You used to get really upset when you saw a bad photo of yourself.”
I remember—I would feel abruptly hopeless. It was like tripping into a deep hole- a hunter’s pit. Oh wait, I would think, I was wrong. I am not good. I was mistaken.
I didn’t even want to think about beauty. I just wanted to like myself. And somewhere along the way, I’d learned that looking a certain way meant you could like yourself more and not looking that way meant you should probably like yourself less. I got this feeling that I wouldn’t even have to think about my appearance if I only looked better. Stupid, stupid, I told myself, every time. Why can’t I just get over it? Why can’t I be smarter? It was so embarrassing to care.