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  • Writer's pictureMicah M Rodrigues

This body.

This body.

This body is a shell of what it used to be. A plump, dimpled shell.

Once angled and wrinkle-free, my face perched atop a slender neck and inviting collarbone is now creased in places (as is my neck), sun spotted in others, and rounded with no collarbone in sight.

Once a smexy smooth, my stomach is fleshy and pregnancy-like (minus the baby), with a c-section apron that can hold a pencil.

My top half has fared much worse, ballooning out during pregnancy and then falling prey to the cruelties of gravity, causing daily pain and discomfort, not to mention significant insecurities.

My upper thighs have become inseparable, like long-lost friends who reunite and vow never to part again. They have betrayed me in their newfound fleshiness, bruising and purpling during walks in the summer or vacation days in Disneyland, when summer dresses are a must and in which thighs are at the mercy of each other.

I could go on and on.

When I look back on photos of myself pre-kids, I feel righteous anger for not seeing how angled my face was, how that little belly was nothing, how heavenly that thigh gap was, and how there was absolutely no need for push-up bras (or a bra at all!). Inevitably, when I see those photos, I pinch the screen, zooming in on all the bits I wish I still had (hello, collarbone!) while muttering 'that skinny bitch’ under my breath.

These kinds of thoughts are beyond damaging. These thoughts derail your vacation because you're worried about what you look like in your bathing suit or have you shrink away from family photos. These thoughts have you dread going out anywhere where real clothes are required. These thoughts keep you from being wholly present, wholly engaged, wholly whole.

So after an intense self-loathing spiral - triggered by a particularly terrible photo of me from a particularly terrible angle - I decided to try and work on my inner dialogue. I decided I must work on my inner dialogue. To have the confidence of kids, who - wearing every pattern under the sun in every colour of the rainbow and having not brushed their hair for days - will look in a mirror with complete confidence and say, 'I look gooood!'

So that was the goal, but I wasn't exactly sure how to achieve it.

I am exercising and trying to watch what I eat, but my 41-year-old body will not change overnight or even over two weeks (at least not perceptibly). When I look in the mirror, those catalogued bits from above will still be there (though an upcoming reduction and lift should help with the top half - impossible to change through exercise/diet). So how exactly can I look at myself any differently?

And then it hit me - I was gray-braining myself.

During our pandemic-induced virtual schooling, I printed a mindset poster for the kid's workspace about a rainbow brain vs. a gray brain. The Rainbow brain understands that if you change how you look at things, approach and embrace things, hidden worlds will open up to you in simple ways - like math equations and profound ways - like facing your doubts and then placing 7th at the school track meet.

So I decided I was going to try and have a Rainbow brain when thinking or talking about my body*

It turns out that my body is more than dimpled, plump, and older. It turns out that when I looked at myself differently, I was a hidden world worthy of exploration and respect.

So here is my new catalogue…

My face is creased in places because I LOVE. It is creased with smile lines because I am lucky enough to have family, friends and a life worth smiling about. It is furrowed where I have listened concernedly to a friend or worried about the kid's physical or mental growth, health, and screen time (always screen time!). It is the face my kids see every day, the one that brightens at the mere sight of them. The face that can make them feel better with just a look. It is magic, this face.

My stomach tells the story of bringing my kids into this world. The incredible ways in which it rearranged itself to help them grow and thrive. The trauma it went through to deliver them safely.

I feed them with this body. A body that filled itself to bursting to ensure they received the nutrients they needed. The place I so easily deride now is where they felt safe and comforted for a good portion of their lives (and during snuggles, they still do).

These legs have carried me through it all - every step a testament to my strength. Holding babies, car seats, and strollers. Taking the kids on adventures in our neighbourhood, in the park, in the world. Walking up and down stairs for extra hugs, filling water, calming nightmares, and soothing colds.

It was not easy, and I failed more times than I would like to admit (and still am), but it's working a bit, and at the very least, I have a new list. A new way that I can look at my body, rainbow-hued and bright.

*Internally, of course. I have been very conscious of ensuring that my kids do not hear my negative self-talk. And any of those times that we discuss my now squishy body (if you have kids, you know how much they love to point these things out!), we talk about it constructively and purposefully. I AM not 'fat,' but I do HAVE extra fat after carrying two babies and not eating well enough or moving my body regularly enough. It is important to me that these conversations are honest. Yes, all bodies come in different shapes and sizes, all have their own abilities and challenges, and there is no single standard of beauty. Pretty is as pretty does is an oft-repeated motto in our house. But, I did 'let myself go' after the kids were born. Two small kids will challenge the best of people and marriages, and during our more difficult periods, I decided self-care was not healthy eating and exercise. It was wine, cupcakes, chips or french fries. I do not want this for them (on all levels), so I make sure they understand that I am not complacent - that I feel better when I make it a habit to eat and move well. That I enjoy treats and french fries, but only when making healthy choices the rest of the time. That my energy, mood, and sleep improve when I walk, hike, or exercise. That I do not feel good in a body that feels stiff, tired, sore, cumbersome, or junked out. My hope is that they will (through these conversations) understand the value of moderation, not restriction. To enjoy the pleasures found in food and its rituals. To know the comfort of lazing on the couch. To know the euphoria found in working up a sweat.








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