This morning, as I was about to hop into the shower, I just so happened to glance in the mirror. I’m not sure why or what drew my attention, but my eyes were drawn to my breasts, and I suddenly noticed something I hadn’t seen before–stretch marks.
Stretch marks aren’t new to me by any means. I have them on my legs, butt, and hips. I’ve had some since I was a teenager and others occurred during my pregnancy 9 years ago.
But these little guys…they caught me by surprise. It’s possible they’ve been around for ages and I had simply never noticed them, but either way, this was the first I’d seen of them. So in an effort to demystify this situation, I figured I should question the person who probably looks at my body even more than I do: my husband.
I walked into John’s office, butt naked, shower cap on my head (I mean, let’s be honest, I don’t often wash my hair) and asked, “Have you seen these before?”
John replied (quite nonchalantly, I might add) that he hadn’t. I said, rather perplexed, that neither had I. And then you know what I did?
I got in the shower and moved on with my life.
Because here’s the deal:
I have stretch marks.
I have cellulite.
I have “imperfections.”
I also have a strong, capable body that boasts a pair each of delts of doom and quadzillas. I can do pull-ups in the double digits and deadlift 2x my bodyweight on command.
I honor my body. I never take movement for granted.
I am a powerful woman whose body is made from (among other things) skin, muscle, and fat–things that can and will sometimes change with the natural flow of life. I’ve weighed 115 pounds (while in USAF basic training), 175 pounds (the day I had my son), 130 pounds (today!) and everywhere in between.
My body changes.
My body has been through 27 hours of childbirth, 2 hours of pushing, and 12 months of breastfeeding.
I have brought a human into this world.
He is compassionate, empathic, loyal, funny, curious and kind. He makes me laugh and gives me a reason to embody strength.
He is proud to have a strong mom, and is actually the one to whom the credit for the “Because Muscles” motto goes to.
My body has a story, and only I get to decide what that story means.
What kind of story will I allow my body to tell? Will it be a sad story, the kind where I feel sorry for myself, nitpicking at every little detail and feeling less than worthy because of a few flaws?
Or is it a powerful story, a story of nurturing, growth, discovery and the multitude of things this body has accomplished over the years?
The only person who gets to tell that story is me.
In the past, I’ve hated my body into hiding. I’ve allowed self-loathing and feelings of unworthiness to dictate my path, and I’ve let shame back me into a dark corner. I’ve striven for perfection and even I’ve been mean to my beautiful body and treated it like it just wasn’t good enough. That didn’t serve me well at all.
That’s not the story I want to tell.
The story I want to tell is far more meaningful than that. My story is filled with love, learning, laughter, and tears. My story is powerful and uniquely mine. It’s the story of a mother, a wife, a friend, a veteran, a colleague, and a woman imbued with radiant strength and relentless positivity.
My story is about freedom. Freedom from shaming my form, freedom from hating my body into leanness, freedom from societal constructs of what a woman “should” be. Freedom to be 100%, unapologetically me.
I have stretch marks.
And with that, I will keep moving forward on this beautiful adventure.