Okay, so the following picture has been plaguing my Facebook news feed like some sort of vile reoccurring blemish. If you haven’t yet been assaulted with this nonsense, here it is…
While I sort of appreciate the chutzpah behind the message, most of what I feel when I see this ridiculous picture is, “Oh, PUH-LEASE.” At the precise moment that thought crosses my mind, my eyes begin to roll involuntarily, and my initial reaction of mild irritation morphs into something much more sinister. That’s when the outrage sets in – at the idiot(s) who created this image and its asinine message in the first place, at the women who see this image and either pretend to feel empowered or are too vapid to know any better, and finally, at the women reposting the image on Facebook like wildfire, thus flooding my news feed and further irritating little ol’ me. If this is not your first visit to my blog, you’ll not be surprised that I’m all fiery and judgmental about yet another thing most people wouldn’t bat a pretty little eyelash at. If this is your first visit, well hey there! Nice to meet you. I’m Tara, and I’m 70% high-and-mighty and 30% holier-than-thou. It’s who I am. It’s what I do.
So, anyway. I’m outraged by the picture for a couple of reasons. First of all, NOBODY looooooves her stretch marks. Let’s be real; they’re hideous, and they deserve every ounce of hatred they receive. The fact that our stretch marks exist because we managed to create, cultivate, carry, and coax forth a human life (with a little help, to be fair) does nothing to change their fundamental hideousness. To pretend otherwise is just preposterous. It’s that kind of non-logic that women occasionally (and foolishly, I might add) employ that gives men juuuuuust enough confirmatory evidence to continue accusing us of being simple, silly souls. Come on, ladies, we’re better than that. Do we love our babies? Absolutely. Would we endure stretch marks 10 times over if that were the only way to ensure us our babies in the first place? Without hesitation. Do we proudly display our disgusting stretch marks like shiny badges of honor for all the world to see? Hell to the no. We cover that mess up. Because it’s disgusting. And hideous. And no one wants to see it. Including us.
Before I launch headlong into my second point, please reacquaint yourself with the image above. Study it carefully. Anything stand out to you? How about the overall smooth, taught appearance of the disembodied belly? How about the lack of any trace of love handle or weird-and-squishy-fat-dimple? How about the absence of the entirely offensive and utterly avoidable post-baby-lower-belly paunch? That looks like the belly of a super model. Are those stretch marks even real? Or are they photopshopped in? Wrap your brain around THAT. My point is that the typical mother does not possess a belly like the one in the photo. Are there women out there that do manage to “get their body back” after baby and rock that kind of belly? Sure. But they’re few and far between. And they’re certainly not the every-mom.
Given my obnoxious insistence on spewing my totally Judgy McJudgerson rants all over the interwebs, I figured it was about time to put my money where my mouth is. This time, instead of just yelling, “Liar, liar. Pants on fire!” at the top of my lungs, I’m going to yell, “Liar, liar!” and then prove it to you. The typical mother – like moi, por ejemplo (that’s right I just threw French AND Spanish into my otherwise English post. I’m hardcore like that) – does not sport that kind of midsection. Here’s a belly of a typical mom…
This is me, in all my two-kids-later glory. No sucking in (which sadly, I actually lack the core strength to do even remotely effectively). No standing up really super straight to compensate for my inability to suck it in. Just the real deal, folks. Notice the undeniably and more than slightly nauseating not-tautness of my belly region. To paraphrase my original Black grandfather, Mr. Cosby, I’ve got more jiggle than a JELLO jiggler. Very soft and cushy. In a revolting kind of way. If you look closely (and if you do, do so at your own risk), you can see weird, random, and absolutely vomitous dimples and ripples in my squishy, jiggly skin. Check out the definition of my six-pack. Nahhh, I’m just kidding. My abs have been completely transformed into a pudgy yet surprisingly loose and flabby layer of winter-friendly blubber. And then there’s the pooch. That pooch is the reason that Mom Jeans exist. The natural place for jeans to lay is now consumed by the pooch, causing an unsightly muffin-top when actual-hips-hitting pants are worn. Apparently, Moms across the globe just threw up their hands and decided the only solution is to wear jeans so high that the pooch is entirely contained within the pants themselves. I’m not saying Mom Jeans are okay (because they’re not). I’m just saying I get it.
If that didn’t drive my point home, this image certainly should. This is me sitting. Just regular sitting. Not the awkwardly leaning back kind of sitting that we all engage in poolside in a pathetic and futile attempt to trick people into thinking we’re not total fatties. Give it up, girls. We’re not fooling anyone. Again, you can observe the doughy, ripply, sickening nature of my post-kids belly. Notice how the pooch now has a gag-inducing overhang to it. If you’re a brave, brave soul (or a complete masochist), look really, really closely a couple of inches below my bra. You’ll notice that there is a faint red line spanning the width of my body. That’s the line left over from my three (count em, three) fat rolls that appear when I slouch or hunch forward. Nice, right?
I feel like I can’t move forward without acknowledging that, yes, those are oversized sweatpants I’ve had since middle school that I’ve rolled down to give you the best view of my barf-ish belly. Even better, those are absolutely terrible, baggy granny panties doing a little peep show there. In fact – funny story – I bought those panties when I was HUUUUUGE pregnant with Austin. Austin is almost 6 years old, and I’m clearly not currently ginormously pregnant. Yet, the granny panties remain. If you wanna get really real up in this biznatch, take a minute to ogle my boobs. And then commence with pitying me. Feel free to send your condolences. Feel freer to send monetary donations toward new, not-depressing boobs.
Neither of my pictures even REMOTELY resembles the initial image that is supposed to make me feel better about my mommy body. I’m sorry, but after looking at that image, I feel markedly WORSE about myself. I bet I’m not alone in that. And here’s the kicker… As crappy as my body image is, I recognize that I’m not fat. In fact, I’m not really typical in terms of body type/weight. I’m a size 4. The average American woman wears a size 14. So if my size 4 post-baby belly looks like that disgusting mess up there, I’m guessing that most other moms aren’t dealing with much better.
If you’re a keen reader, you’ll have noticed that the original, infuriating image and the beginning of my rant involved stretch marks. I didn’t point out stretch marks in my belly pics. I didn’t forget. I don’t have stretchmarks on my belly. And still my midsection is no picnic. Let me be clear. I’m not stretch mark free. I’m literally striped with stretchmarks. To prove it, though, I’d have to take nakee shots of my butt and boobs. And as much as I generally hate people, nobody deserves that kind of cruel and unusual punishment.
My point in all this was not simply to humiliate myself or obliterate the chances of any human being ever finding me remotely acceptable to lay eyes on ever again. My point is that messages like the one communicated by the original image are not empowering. They’re stupid and inaccurate, first of all. But more importantly, they function to reinforce the entirely unreasonable and unhealthy tendency for women to take cues about how we should feel about our bodies (and by direct extension, our worth as human beings) from others. From the media. From society. From dirtbag men (Simmer down, boys. Not all of you are dirtbags. Just most ;) ). If you look at your stretch marks (or your cellulite, or your scrawny yet inexplicably wiggly calves) and hate them, then that’s your perogative. And it says nothing – and I mean NOTHING – about your worth or value as woman or a person. Just between us, I’m still working on that last part myself…