We’re All Sucking It In

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You better believe it.

In high school, I had no body image issues. Sure, I didn’t like my nose, and I have really hairy arms. But it was never something I obsessed over, and it didn’t hold me back.

Fast forward to when I birthed my firstborn. I was left with loads of stretch marks, lots of loose tummy skin, with a good layer of fat to cover it all. My clothes didn’t fit like they used to. Pants too tight, shirts bunched in strange places. Suddenly I started comparing myself to everyone else around me, wondering how much I’d have to work out to get myself back to my pre-baby body.

NEWS FLASH: YOU NEVER GET YOUR PRE-BABY BODY BACK.

And a lot of us are not OK with that. So there are Spanx and there are wraps and there are pills and there are workout programs. Hopefully, we aren’t all using all of the above. But there is one thing we all have in common:

WE’RE ALL SUCKING IT IN.

body image
Not breathing.
Breathing. Firstborn asked, "Mommy, you have another baby in there?" No. That's called no abs.
Breathing.

Big girls, small girls, tall girls, short girls, old girls, young girls.

I was in a wedding party recently, and the running joke was to remind each other to “suck it in!” as the photographer lined us up or was sneaking around for candid photos. To me, none of these girls had any reason to want their stomachs to be any smaller than they already were, but obviously they were worried about it.

If SKINNY GIRLS don’t like their tummies, is there any hope for anyone?

body image
I hate these pictures. Why is she measuring her waist? Is she going to put the inches on LinkedIn? “Graphic designer with an 18-inch waist.”

Maybe. It takes effort to change the way we see ourselves, so it’s sometimes easier to just ignore or even dwell on the things we hate about ourselves. The key is in the progress. Maybe you are at a point in your life where the gym is absolutely not happening. It can be easy to get discouraged because, physically, you might be stagnant or even putting on pounds.

Why don’t we do the really healthy thing, and ditch the scale, and get a mental workout instead? It takes guts and persistence to change your mindset. You used those guts to get your beautiful baby into this world, time to use them to change the world. Change your world by changing your mind. “I am beautiful how I am! I deserve to be confident, and I am confident. My tummy pokes out more than I’d like, but that’s not what defines me. My choices define me. I choose happiness!” Say it out loud, say it in your mind, write it on your mirror and in your heart.

So next time you see a lady at the park who has, in your mind, the perfect bod, just remember: She’s sucking it in, too, and it’s OK to just let it hang out.