I Can Feel It.

I recently read this excellent blog post on body image and relationships.  It was late–3 or 4 am–and I was up nursing minimagpie and it brought tears to my eyes.  I’d like to blame the late hour or the exhaustion or the occasional way that nursing makes me feel weepy or the fact that recovering from a c-section and a pregnancy has made me feel uncomfortable in my own skin, but I think I would have reacted just as strongly at any stage of my life, and not just because I have–like every woman?–struggled with my own body image over time, and for varying reasons.  There have been times that I was too thin.  There have been times that I was too heavy.  There have been times where I felt too heavy but was actually too thin.  There have been times that I have disliked my bra size, and other times I have loved being able to go bra-less while more endowed women bemoan the simple act of running down the street–so easy and thoughtless for me, such a royal pain for others.  There have been days I’ve hated my short legs, and others that I have loved being the smallest chickadee in the group.  And on and on.  So, the article spoke to me on that level.  But the article also moved me because of what the author’s beau had to say about her fluctuating weight.  The author explained that she would post her weight on the wall (ugh!  my heart breaks at this!), and her beau, after observing it a few times, said:

“I don’t notice it. Even if the numbers have changed, you feel the same. I like the way you feel.”

Later, he says:

“It’s not a body’s job to be perfect. It’s to keep you alive. I love your body for keeping my favorite person alive. Please, don’t hide it from me.”

Who is this man?  I’d like to write him a long love letter.

But seriously: I am so moved by this man’s tremendous words of love.  It made me wonder how Mr. Magpie perceives me and the changes to my body since bringing mini into the world.  At the risk of sounding overly confident, I am fairly certain he is not nearly as bothered by the sight of my c-section scar, or by the slight doughiness to my midsection (just relax the eyes a little, and it looks OK…), or by the strange and unfortunate way in which my hips seem to have expanded by a good inch despite the fact that I did not deliver my baby in the traditional way.  (As an aside, in the week or two immediately following mini’s birth, I still looked like 5 months pregnant and therefore had to wear maternity clothing, and what had once been so cute — a fitted striped tee to showcase the burgeoning bump! — suddenly felt like a cruel joke.  I wore a lot of baggy shirts…)

It made me think about how skewed our own perceptions of ourselves can be, how hard we can be on ourselves, and how beautiful it is to have a partner to hold up his mirror to you and show you a very different version of yourself.

I’m reminded of a picture I saw on Instagram, of the ultra-cool and very fashionable Vanessa Traina, minutes after delivering her son by c-section.

Vanessa Traina

I saw it and ogled at it and said to Mr. Magpie: “Oh my God. Who looks this good mid c-section?  They are probably still stitching her up.”

Mr. Magpie, without skipping a beat, pulled out his phone and showed me several pictures of myself in the minutes and hours after mini was born.

“I dunno,” he said. “I think you look pretty damn good.”  He held up the phone with a picture of a puffy and relieved post-partem me on it next to my phone, with a picture of the statuesque Vanessa on it, and said: “It’s exactly the same.  She looks great, you look great.”

The Fashion Magpie Mini Magpie Birth

{Mini was literally a few hours old here.  My heart…}

I remember consciously trying to look at myself through his eyes.  I began to see my happy face, my glowing skin, my bright eyes.  Such a different vision of myself; I remember feeling dazed, in pain, ragged, and looking in the mirror and feeling like I’d aged 100 years.  But I saw what he saw, and I liked it.

So beautiful to remember this now that I have–trepidatiously, cautiously, slowly–begun to get back into shape.  I went for my first jog (more like a wog…walk/jog) in close to 9 months on Monday and plan to go for a second today.  I was hella sore yesterday–quads, incision, calves all burning–but it felt good.  But reading this article and recalling Mr. Magpie’s generous words to me reminds me to give myself a little grace.

And so should you.

So many of us women are too hard on our bodies and on ourselves.  A girlfriend just this morning wrote me, on being 6-months pregnant: “It’s easy to beat yourself up about every little thing and worry yourself to death and I’ve been trying to combat that but it’s so impossible for me to fully do.”  We had been texting about my ongoing roller coaster of emotions around breastfeeding (I really am comfortable with where we’ve landed, but every now and then when I read something like “I breastfed exclusively–none of that toxic formula!!!–for 34098 days and my baby is so much healthier for it,” I feel a little nugget of frustration with myself), and she had been quick to say how ridiculous it is that so many of us women put so much pressure on ourselves around this topic.  But she was quick to admit that she, herself, was struggling with the same kinds of issues–the same tendency to beat herself up!

 

(She also reminded me to return to the Amy Poehler mantra: “Good for you, not for me” — something we should all repeat to ourselves daily when we get into the comparison game.)

At any rate, I’m declaring this month of May the month of cutting ourselves some slack.  Of trying to be healthy and aspiring to return to pre-baby body–or whatever your goal is–but also of being grateful for just being healthy (!!!!).  And of trying to look at yourself through the eyes of the loved ones around you, who don’t notice the flaws you beat yourself up over, or who love you because of them.

I love the closing line of the blog post I mentioned at the outset of this post — “I like the way I feel.”  It’s a good north star for me, a good goal to get to a place of liking the way I feel rather than to a certain weight or hip measurement or number of miles or what have you.

But, in the meantime, I’ll reward myself for feeling it at all.  For feeling sore from a brief jog, for feeling mixed emotions over the scar on my body, for stopping to think about how I feel, period.  Taking stock and thinking about how I feel is a good first step.

And you know what can help?  Some damn good-looking athletic gear to help ease me back into the workout routine, beginning with some gorgeous tennis gear.  I’m a horrible tennis player, but Mr. Magpie bought me lessons and a racket a year or two ago and I’m determined to get back into it this summer.  I LOVE this simple and classic tennis dress from J. Crew ($100):

The Fashion Magpie Tennis Dress

The Fashion Magpie Tennis Dress 2

The Fashion Magpie Tennis Dress 3

+Also love the classic lines of Tory Burch’s tennis skirt — also available with this cool striped detailing!

+H+M also has an AMAZING pleated skirt for $30 that I’d wear on the court if it weren’t sold out in my size.

+I’ve long wanted a pair of Free City sweats (random, I know) — they have great colors and such a cool girl vibe.  They are conveniently on sale in select colors for the time being at Shopbop in its surprise 40% off sale section.  (And P.S. — that sale section is amazing, and includes this Ganni jumpsuit I’ve been dying over, and this fun and forgiving dress.)

+I have been eyeing these colorblocked leggings — LOVE the colors — and they are on sale, too!

+However, I might also need a second pair of Alo Yoga leggings — love all of the cool girl details on their pieces, like the mesh cutouts on these chic leggings (in the black color).  I already own and love and live in their moto leggings.  They’re not only super cool looking but extraordinarily comfortable.  The material has a lot of stretch and doesn’t cut into you or give you muffin top.  Love love love.

+Also from Alo Yoga: quite possibly the sexiest sports bra ever?!  For some reason I’d feel like Gwyneth Paltrow in this.  So gorgeous.  Just added to my shopping cart.

+I am a huge fan of all things Lululemon, like every other 30-something woman living in Chicago, apparently.  Any time I’ve gone to Barre class, it’s like a Lululemon ad.  But their pieces are SO well made and flattering and they come out with cool prints and shapes.  Anyway, I love the length of this crop top / bra, and the back is pretty, too.  I LOVE the way it’s styled on the site, with matching white leggings.  But…can I pull off white leggings.  This is the question.  In the spirit of self-love, I say yes.  I even like the way it’s been styled with a coordinating white windbreaker.  I’d wear it with my favorite Marmot PreCip jacket, which I own in the platinum color (very light gray).  I got it while in Aspen two summers ago and it was the perfect layering piece.  It kept rain out and was fairly decent at insulating — but there are two vents you can unzip so it becomes a great breathable piece for long hikes or jogs and whatever the weather throws your way.

+I have to say that Gap’s fitness stuff is hit or miss for me.  A lot of it has not stood the test of time, or fits weird.  BUT.  Sometimes they have the greatest colors/prints, and I’m loving these colorful and happy shorts for runs when the weather decides to heat up.

+Finally, these tie dye capri leggings are for whatever reason REALLY calling my name.  Hippie chic!  I would wear them with the Lululemon crop top bra thing and, if I had them, beachy waves, and pretend I was in Blue Crush.

8 Comments

  1. I definitely teared up reading this post as well — so many complicated feelings around body image, but it’s so nice to think about how other people view your body. I know that although I have struggled mightily with body image, my partner loves my body and tells me he does every day. That has helped me change (for the better) how I view myself, and I couldn’t be more grateful to him.

    I LOVE that J.Crew tennis dress — so perfect! You should check out Outdoor Voices, if you haven’t already — their leggings come in 3/4 and 7/8 lengths, which is really helpful for my short frame (the 7/8 leggings are full length on me, which makes it easy — I always get frustrated with brands whose leggings are super long, because for some reason the idea of tailoring athletic wear is anathema to me!)

    1. Great advice on Outdoor Voices! I haven’t checked out their gear but will do. I TOTALLY hear you on tailoring athletic gear — no thank you. Hard enough to motivate myself to get normal clothing altered.

      AND, so glad this post spoke to you. I think many of us have a long way to go before we’re totally at home in our bodies but it’s been lovely to read all of these notes of support and empathy. xx

  2. Yes! Nodding as I’m reading — one of the things I love most about being in my 30s is that I did figure some things out about health and wellness and body image and am overall much more relaxed and happy about how I look and feel (it pains me to say but when I think back to certain points in my life, particularly moving to NYC in my mid-20s, the most overwhelming memory I have is just feeling hungry all the time). But it’s a work in progress, and there are still some rough moments and bad days.

    Also…I played tennis in HS and college and loved it (especially the uniforms — wore the cutest white skirts!) but have barely picked up my racket since then and I’ve really been thinking about it lately. That little dress from J. Crew is so good! It’s so sporty and sexy, I kind of want to wear it in non-tennis related situations.

    1. TOTALLY agree. Those tennis dresses are so flirty/cute/sporty! Half the appeal of tennis, if you ask me…and, girl, I hear you on the reflections on your 20s! So much energy spent counting calories and fretting over exercise — oy. Hoping to get to your headspace as my work my way through my 30s. xoxo

  3. Teared up reading this and I don’t think it’s just from pregnancy hormones 🙂 so beautiful and such an amazing photo! I agree, we should all ourselves more slack, something I keep trying to remind myself of lately.

    1. Thanks for writing this, Shannon! You know — I got a few texts from readers/friends who said they’d teared up as well. It made me realize how universal this body image struggle is for us ladies. Anyway, you should definitely (!) be giving yourself some major grace as you head towards the end of your pregnancy. Thinking of you and sending you good vibes! xoxo

  4. What a fabulous post!!!!! ❤️Going through all the same feelings since I delivered my little one not too long before you. I bookmarked that blog post as well, so beautiful !!!! Xxx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *