mombod

The other day, I started noticing a phrase in people’s tweets. “Dadbod.” At first I just thought it was some sort of inside joke among some of the writers that I follow, like the physical embodiment of dad jeans, or something. But I soon realized that they must be getting this dadbod thing from somewhere. So I did what I usually do (read, used Twitter as my own personal Google) and tweeted something like, “I’m going to need a dadbod origin story. What the heck are you guys all talking about?” I mean, when childless hipster friends on Facebook have started to mention their “dadbods,” there’s some kind of Thing going on. Helpful folks on Twitter led me to this piece from The Cut, which was apparently riffing on something a student at Clemson named Mackenzie Pearson wrote. Basically, “dadbod” is what frat boys with beer guts are now calling their physique. Like, I’m not ripped because I’m too busy having fun, please enjoy my dadbod.

The gist I got from The Cut is that dadbod is something some folks are into. Like folks who really dig Seth Rogen and Jason Segel. I’ve been known to say a dude looks like “a cute dad,” and I happen to be married to a pretty hot dad, so I guess I might fall into the dadbod fandom. Dadbod is apparently just a funny hip coinage for an average, healthy male body that doesn’t spend a ton of time on like, Crossfit or something. If you were to call it what it really is though, you’d probably call it average.

At the end of the piece, though, one of The Cut’s editors says “I can’t stop thinking about how offended I would be if men were talking about the ‘Mombod.'” Except PLENTY of people have made it clear that “mombod” is an actual thing, yes, but also a thing to be avoided like the plague. No one writes appreciation pieces about the mombod and how “doughier tummy areas are good at sex — better, even — than, say, a ripped-abbed [person].” Because obviously, we doughy-tummied mommies are not sexual beings but rather sad sacks who need to GET THAT BODY BACK, RETURN TO OUR PRE BABY BODIES, GET A BEACH BODY, ROCK THAT BIKINI POST BABY, ETC.

mombods are sexy
with my mombod in my mom jeans with my offspring.

Dudes are allowed to have “dadbods” and be seen as cute for it precisely because their worth isn’t as intrinsically tied to their appearance the way women’s worth is.

Here’s the thing though: mombod is real. Some women get “back” to tight abs and perky boobs after they become moms, but I’d venture that most of us are changed in at least some way by the experience, and there isn’t really any going back. Even if you “lose that baby weight,” stuff just isn’t the same anymore. We can see our bodies as damaged goods, or we can embrace the transformation. Growing twins may have left my midsection softer and my belly button unrecognizable, but it also made me feel more deeply connected to my body. And you know what that is, really? A sensual experience. An empowering experience. And sensuality and power and even softness are sexy.

So. If “dadbod” gets to have a moment, if we get to admit that “imperfect” male bodies are desirable, let’s do the same for “mombod” too. Whatever body you have, mombod, dadbod, rippedbod, fatbod, YOU are what make your body sexy, not the other way around.

belly buttons, baby girls, and body confidence

My belly wasn't the same after this. I'm learning to love it anyway.
My belly wasn’t the same after this. I’m learning to love it anyway.

In response to some internet body-shaming, some other folks have declared this to be #BodyConfidenceWeek. And since Owning Your Awesome is kind of my wheelhouse, I figured I’d share a little body confidence here.

To talk about the confidence, though, I have to first say: carrying twins to 35 weeks and 6 lbs each, through some 55 lbs of weight gain and loss has changed my body. I still remember feeling the fiery sensation of my abs literally ripping apart, and they stayed that way. My belly button never went back in. My skin was stretched past its capacity to snap back all the way. These are not complaints, really, just realities. I made two people inside this body, and even though it almost killed me, I survived, and those little people are more than worth it.

In fact, they are what give me confidence, both because of the obvious love and delight they take in their bodies and mine, but because I want to protect them from messages that would have them do anything but love and marvel at the miracles of their bodies, and to do that, I have to show them how to love themselves by modeling self-love.

Right now, they’re obsessed with pointing out and naming body parts, but particularly bellies and belly buttons. I kiss their bellies when I change their diapers. “Belly belly belly,” I say as I tickle them and blow raspberries. They’re preoccupied with the part of me that was most changed by their entry into the world. When I’m sitting near them, they lift my shirt playfully. “Belly!” I say. Giggling, their little fingers point out my still-outie belly button. Softly, they tickle my stretched-out skin with their pudgy, sweet, dimpled hands. And in those moments, I don’t feel insecure. I don’t feel ashamed. I laugh. I smile. “You found my belly button!” I say. “Where’s your belly button?” They lift their shirts and stick out their little toddler tummies. They grin as they show me their belly buttons. All I see when I look at them are the perfect, wonderful ones I love. I know that’s what they see when they look at me too. In those moments, we love our bodies together. And that love is a gift that they give me, bigger than anything their gestation and birth did to my flesh.

every BODY is beautiful

Bodies like these are beautiful. So are larger ones. So are smaller ones. So are shorter ones. So are taller ones. So are differently-abled ones. So are ones who don't even realize it yet.

While I’m very interested in body image, body acceptance, and the Healthy at Every Size movement, I don’t write a lot about body image. Because I recognize that as a thin, able-bodied, white, heterosexual, cis-woman, I carry around a whole lot of privilege, and really, no amount of whining about how someone called me Olive Oyl or “walking toothpick” or “knobby knees” in Jr. High is going to compare to the experience of someone who is told over and over in the media that she is unacceptable, that she is unhealthy, that she is the reason Americans spend so much on healthcare, that she is going to die, that she is unworthy of love, that she is not allowed to wear the things she wants to wear because it “grosses” others out, just to name a few.  I get that that is not my experience, and so I try to take a backseat and be a good ally. I creep on blogs like Shapely Prose and the Rotund and Fatshionista, and I try to get schooled.

That said, I was SO HAPPY to read this post by Ragen Chastain of Dances with Fat (she left me a comment the other day! woo!) over at Jezebel called “Things I’ve Heard About Thin Women.”  Her post is about the tendency of some in the body acceptance movement to tear down those whose bodies are considered by mainstream society as “more acceptable” than fat bodies.  She points out seeing the following comments:

“Stick women just aren’t sexy, it’s just gross.”
“What man would want a twig anyway?”
“It’s just impossible to be healthy when you are that thin, you have to be anorexic or a drug addict to look like that” “Real women are curvy and LOOK like women”

I’ve written about the whole “real women have curves” thing before and concluded that real women come in all shapes and sizes, and real women love themselves, no matter what they look like. I’m not going to try to play Oppression Olympics, or claim that skinny shaming even BEGINS to come close to the kind of fat shaming so many people deal with on a regular basis.  Instead, I’d just like to reiterate Ragen’s point here:

I believe that if you say that you want a size positive world, you have to mean size positive for everyone. That means not making judgments about others based on their size; sticking up for the model being called anorexic with the same fervor you would use to defend a fat women being called lazy; respecting other people’s decisions when it comes to their bodies – even when you don’t agree with them.

That’s what it means to be the change you want to see in the world.

Amen!  Women are a powerful force when we have each others’ backs and are united in the fight for fairness.  Distracting us into some sort of competitive game where we’re pitted against each other trying to define what a “REAL” woman is, or what a truly acceptable, beautiful body looks like is just another way to keep us down.  Don’t let The Man distract us with such petty crap. We are ALL beautiful, we are ALL deserving of love and acceptance, starting with loving and accepting ourselves, and branching out to love and accept each other.

I’ll tell you what’s REALLY the worst

This isn't the exact magazine I saw, but you get the idea.

Yesterday I had a snack attack and hoofed it over to CVS to grab some munchies (Cheez-Its are my snack of choice lately, if you must know, and yes, Ms. CSA subscriber occasionally succumbs to the call of the Junk Food).  As I was checking out, I happened to glance up at the magazine rack and was briefly transfixed. I had to ask the cashier to repeat my total.

“I’m sorry, I was so distracted by that horrible US Weekly cover. Worst Bikini Bodies? Really? That woman looks like a human, in a bikini. What the heck?”

The cashier replied, “Plus, it’s December, and she’s somewhere in a bikini! Good for her!”

Indeed.

something on my chest

My friend Deb tweeted at me today: Picture 1What was she referring to?

Here’s the backstory.  Last night I was sitting on my couch in a black tank top and a pair of sweat pants, laptop on my lap, surfing the net when Yoono (my Firefox add on social networking client) alerted me to some unread Tweets.  Meghan McCain, whom I follow because sometimes she has interesting things to say about politics, and because, despite the fact that I sometimes wish I didn’t, I like her, had posted a new twit-pic about staying in on a Wednesday to read a book about Andy Warhol.  This was the twit-pic:

image via jezebel.com
image via jezebel.com

I admit my first thought was “whoa, girlie’s got the GIRLS out.”

But then my inner feminist began to chastise me.  What do you MEAN she’s got the girls out? You two are wearing the EXACT SAME OUTFIT!  You betta check yourself before you wreck yourself, lil Miss Feminist! Continue reading “something on my chest”