This week we’re joined by Dawn from Rhyming With Wine. If you’re not already familiar with her brilliantly funny poems please pay her a visit, guaranteed giggles inspired by motherhood and day to day life with kids!
Just a very quick one from me to thank everyone who has tweeted, read or contacted me about the series so far – I’ve been delighted to hear so many of you are enjoying the guest posts and finding them inspirational. It’s nice to be nice, to others and ourselves.
Take it away Dawn…
Name 3 parts of your body that you love and tell us why they’re so fabulous?
I’m quite fond of my eyes. I mean they definitely come in handy for all of the seeing and things, but they only need a bit of mascara and they change may face completely from “Just got out of bed” to “This is me!” My hair has really started to grow having done babies and breastfeeding twice now and I have one of those long styles that I can do about 100 different things with to suit my mood (and time rations of course). I never thought I’d say this but I really quite like my boobs now too! They were never anything to notice before, but they are definitely my favourite part of my “Mum” body and I can still rock a fairly low cut top when the occasion calls for it!
Share a memory of when you felt particularly good about yourself.
About 7 months after my youngest was born, “Daddy Pig” and I were lucky enough to attend our friends’ wedding at the same place that we were married in the Lake District. I was around 4 months pregnant with my first when we got married and while I managed to fit in my dress (thank goodness for a lace up back) I was definitely carrying a fair amount of “maternal storage tissue”. With each of my pregnancies I gained around 3 ½ stone and I’m sure that at least 2 stone of that went on the second I peed on a stick! Somehow though I gradually lost my baby weight both times, and by the time of my friends’ wedding I was down to a personal best as far as weight goes. I actually wore a catsuit (not exactly Michelle Pfeiffer / Catwoman style, but still – a CATSUIT!) It was something that I would never usually wear and my Mum had more or less picked it out for me on a shopping trip. After nearly 3 years of pregnancies and breast-feeding I felt good. I felt like I was still a woman and not just a mum, and I felt proud to stand with my hubby at the place where we were married knowing how much my body had been through and achieved, and that “I” was still in there.
Has your relationship with your body changed over time?
I remember getting fixated on the concept of dieting when I was around 13. I remember my step-mum asking me if I wanted to borrow some shorts as it was a hot day, and adding the caveat “It’s OK – I’ve got some big ones.” It really stuck with me, and I remember wanting to try and be “thin”. Slim Fast shakes were new onto the market around that time and I remember seeing them advertised and so desperately wanting to do that plan. There was no way that my parents were going to fund my milkshake habit though and so I made my own “milkshakes” using Ready Brek and cold water *gags*. Needless to say I didn’t follow that plan for too long. Over the last twenty *mumbles* years I’ve been a bit of a yo-yoer. I’ve pretty much consistently stayed between a size 12 and a size 14. Over time my weight would gradually creep up to the top of the 14s and then I would always embark on some kind of crazy hair brained scheme to bring myself down to a comfortable 12 again. I’ve been a size 10 but to get there I dropped to 500 calories a day. I was miserable. I just don’t think that my body type is meant to be that shape and I’m OK with that now. I still reach a point where the 12s are no longer comfortable and the 14s are even starting to stretch a bit. For me that’s when I start to feel like I ought to be a bit more mindful and cut back a bit / get my backside moving a bit more, but I think it’s more about maintaining a healthy BMI and lifestyle for me now rather than aspiring to be something that I’m not. I respect my body so much more now for the amazing things that it achieved during pregnancy and I’m a little bit kinder to myself about the lumps and bumps. My stretchmarks are like a tattoo of that special time in my life when I was growing my babies. I’ll carry them with me for the rest of my life and no-one can take them from me.
If you are a parent (or have little people in your life), has this changed how you perceive or discuss healthy body image?
Massively. I have grown up around strong women who seem to have been on a permanent diet all of their lives. They are all beautiful as they are, and yet they constantly seem to be battling with their own demons around their weight. I feel that it’s such a shame that they can’t just enjoy a piece of cake without feeling swamped with guilt about it. The reality is that in all the years I have known them, their body type has barely changed, despite them having spent most of their lives swinging between starving themselves and guilty binging to make up for the starvation. It’s a cycle that I’ve come to recognize and I’m trying to step out of it myself. I certainly don’t want my little ones to adopt the same attitude and so I try to keep myself in check when I speak about my weight or food choices around them. We try to encourage making healthy choices for a healthy lifestyle, rather than low fat or low calorie options to lose weight. I don’t deny them anything really as I think that everything in moderation is fine, but I tend to offer a healthier option where there is one, and offer “treats” a little more mindfully.
What advice would you give to your teenage self on the subject of body image?
I’d tell myself to stop comparing myself to other people. That I would never be 5ft 10 and so no amount of dieting would make me look like “That Girl” that we all knew at school. (Ours was 5ft 10 and had hair like a mermaid. I was 5ft 4 and had hair like it’d been dropped on by a parachute.) I’d tell myself that 4 chocolate bars and a bag of crisps from the tuck shop does not a lunch make, and to be a little bit kinder to myself and my body. That boys and certain friends would come and go over the years, but that my body will be with me forever, and that it deserves a certain amount of respect if I want it to last me a lifetime.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever done for your body?
Zumba. Without hesitation it is the only real form of exercise that I have genuinely loved. I’ve always been pretty active and tried every gym class going, including a boot-camp session which put me in an ambulance (true story!) There is just something about Zumba that not only gives my body a good work out but it gives my soul a lift too. The music makes me smile and compels me to push myself that bit harder. Or maybe it’s just all the calypso and salsa music that conjures images of beaches and bikinis? Either way – it works for me!
Share one confidence boosting trick for days when you’re feeling a bit ‘meh’.
I am sure I am not the only Mum in the world to be guilty of serious hand neglect. My poor, dry, wrinkly paws now look like they belong on a Hobbit. I have invested in a number of lovely hand-creams which promise to nourish and protect them, but I just never seem to get around to it as my hands are always submerged in soapy water or wiping surfaces, faces (and other parts) with a range of wipes. Every now and then I give them a treat with lashings of moisturizer and they always look about 50 times better. It doesn’t matter what my face looks like as I can’t really see that for most of the day, but if my hands look better it gives me an instant confidence boost.
Who in the public eye do you admire for celebrating natural body shape?
Holly Willoughby. I think that she is absolutely stunning and I applaud the way that she doesn’t get dragged into sharing her “post baby body” diet and fitness tips. I read that she doesn’t want women to feel pressured into looking a certain way after they’ve had their babies, and thinks that we should feel empowered to make our own choices and decisions based on what will make us happy, rather than comparing ourselves to others. I think that she is an inspiration.
Give us your best body positive quote or mantra.
Take care how you speak to yourself, because you are listening.
I pledge to love myself a little more today by…
Taking off my make up with actual make up remover (as opposed to my pillow case – I know, slap my wrist!) and applying night cream. I never do this and I really should. The odd time I do apply it I can literally feel my face go “Aaahhhh…”
I shall do it tonight! Pinky promise!
Thank you so much Charlie for the opportunity to write this piece. It was so interesting to actually challenge myself on some of these points, and I am so proud to feature in this amazing and inspirational series.