Your Move.

Take off your mask.  Burn away the prejudices, stereotypes and judgements you cling to.  Throw away the person you “should” be according to everyone else.  Flush society’s standards down the toilet.  Run far, far away from the negativity surrounding you.  Bury your need to please everyone deep in the ground.  Throw the shackles that the world has chained to you straight into the depths of the sea.  Tell your demons that YOU are in control, not them…not anymore.  Let your skeleton out of the closet for all to see.  Take your social status and cultural norms out of the equation.  Erase all of your belongings from your mind, after all, they are just things.

What do you have left after that?  Who are you, underneath it all, at your core?  Look for the people who are still by your side when they see you raw and exposed-they are the ones who matter.  They didn’t run when your skeleton jumped out of your closet.  Are you defined by your money, success, or all the nice stuff you have?  Those things can be gone in an instant.  If you lost it all, would you lose yourself too?  Do you strive to live up to the world’s expectations or your own?  Do you hate your body because society’s narrow view says you should?  Your body is powerful and strong.  It is the vessel through which you experience the world.  It is the reason you can see the sunset, hear the birds singing, feel the rain on your skin, go for a walk, smell the flowers and taste coffee.  Life is beautiful and so are you.  And if you are a mother, you literally sacrificed your body to give your child life.  You made another human being, and that is so incredible!  Stretch marks are a small price to pay to have a healthy, beautiful baby in your arms.  Do you judge people based on their appearance?  Have you forgotten that looks fade with time, that who you are has nothing to do with what you look like?  If you married someone for their good looks, you will be very disappointed to wake up one morning, and see that they have aged.  You could be the sexiest person walking planet earth, but if you treat people like shit, you will still end up alone.

Who you are is what really matters.  If you feel like your worth is based on the car you drive, what your body looks like, or what your mom thinks, then the world has you fooled.  Those things are not important.  Don’t buy into the world’s bull shit.  Don’t lose yourself in the superficial standards that society has set in place.  Be you.  Do you.  Grow you.  Be the kind of person that this world needs more of.  Be the person that no one can say a bad thing about.  Be the person that you want your children to be.  Show this fake world what a real, raw, open, honest person looks like.  Own your demons and skeletons.  Own your mistakes.  Own your imperfections.  Everything you’ve been through has made you who you are-it can make you bitter or better, the choice is yours.  Be kind always.  You never know what a person is going through; your kindness can be what restores their faith in humanity, or the one thing that keeps them from jumping off a bridge.  Next time you are frustrated with this fake, cruel, selfish world, remember this: YOU can be something real in the sea of fake, the kind breath of fresh air in the midst of cruelty, and a generous, caring heart that lights up the selfish darkness.  Maybe you will inspire others to do the same, and at the very least, someone else’s dark day is a little brighter because of you. Making the world a better place starts with one person–you.  Your move.

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Battle Scars

Silhouette by the water

Silhouette by the water

Can barely tell I was pregnant from the back.  That belly stuck straight out!

Can barely tell I was pregnant from the back. That belly stuck straight out!

My prego belly a month before my son was born.

My prego belly a month before my son was born.

——Bear with me on this one, I am going somewhere with this, I promise!——

My stomach will never look the same again.  I have lost all the baby weight, but I still don’t look like I used to.  The skin on my belly is looser, and covered in faded stretch marks.  Right after I had my son, the stretch marks were red and angry, like a tiger clawed me on either side of my belly button.  To make matters worse, my breasts are now shrinking since I’ve weaned my son.  It is devastating.  I’m in my 20’s, I should have a flawless, flat tummy and perfect boobs.  20-somethings on TV, movies and magazines are perfect.  Celebrity moms look like their old selves just weeks after giving birth, like nothing ever happened.  But not me.

I was at the store yesterday and the old lady bagging my groceries thought I was pregnant with my second child.  I matter of factly told her no, followed by an awkward silence.  She didn’t apologize, she changed the subject.  I gracefully answered her questions about how old my son is and got the heck out of there.  I noticed she had a terrible haircut, but I didn’t say anything to her about that.  Unlike most people, I don’t go around pointing out people’s flaws.  I actually think before I speak.  That is a foreign concept to people these days.  So thank you for the confidence boost, bagger lady.  I was literally looking in the mirror, sobbing at the sight of my reflection just 2 days before.  Your timing couldn’t have been better.  You are lucky I am nice to people who don’t deserve it.

I bought my first “mom bathing suit” last week, and have been depressed ever since.  I have to keep my stomach covered now.  I am ashamed for anyone to see it.  The girl who used to wear bikinis to the beach is gone, and I miss her.  I miss her flat stomach, and it’s lack of stretch marks, and I miss her perky boobs.  I am damaged goods now.  I suddenly worry that my husband will cheat on me for someone perfect, and I never worried about it before.  I avoid the mirror like a plague.

But you know what?  I am done with society and their ridiculous standards.  I went through 24 hours of labor, and a very complicated, uncomfortable pregnancy.  I earned this body!  I literally almost died to get these stretch marks.  And society thinks they are gross.  I grew another human being for 9 months.  But society thinks the loose skin on my stomach is nasty.  I nourished my baby with my own body; my milk alone kept him alive for the first 6 months of his life.  But society thinks my boobs aren’t perky enough.  I have a beautiful little boy who calls me mommy, but society thinks I’m lame because I can’t go out and party every weekend now.  (Not that I want to, anyway!)

When will it end?  Why do we let society define what’s beautiful or normal?  Can we not think for ourselves?  It is amazing how brainwashed by the media we are.  We let them define our own self worth.  I am mourning the loss of my body that society deemed worthy.  I am depressed because I don’t fit into their idea of beautiful anymore.  How twisted is that?  Why do I care, why do I let them decide whether or not I am ugly?  Maybe my bra isn’t quite as full as it used to be, but my heart is overflowing.  I have a precious little boy who calls me mama, gives me hugs and blows me kisses.  He lights up when I walk into the room.  The sound of his sweet little laugh makes my day.  There is nothing ugly or lame about that.  I could have the “perfect body” and still be empty and unhappy underneath it.  I may not be “hot” anymore, but I have a life filled with so much love and joy.  Honestly, I would choose this life over a perfect body any day.

My stretch marks are my battle scars-I survived growing another person and bringing him into the world.  My body is strong, and it gave my son life.  And that’s amazing.  I can’t believe my body went through all of that, went through unspeakable pain, and survived. Until I experienced it all for myself, I had no idea how amazing that is.  My body is life-giving, strong and powerful. And society can’t take that away from me.  So screw you, society!  Beauty comes in many forms, whether it be curvy, skinny, short, tall, pregnant, post-partum, tan, pale, black, white, and the list goes on.  The human body is incredible, no matter what it looks like on the outside.  Before you judge someone based on their looks, remember that you don’t know what they’ve been through.  Remember that there is a person in there with feelings just like you.  Remember that looks alone do not define who someone is, just as your looks don’t define you. And for the love of God, don’t ask someone about their “pregnancy” unless you’re 110% sure that they are actually pregnant.

I am still on my journey to self-acceptance.  I want to see the perfect actresses on TV and NOT compare myself to them.  I want to love the woman in the mirror instead of hating her.  I want to give society the finger instead of buying into it’s shallow B.S.  It’s a work in progress, but I’m hoping I can get there!  Some days are better than others.