Dear Husband, I wish I could see myself through your eyes
Self image in motherhood is such a struggle for so many of us moms, so I decided I would write this post as a letter to my husband describing what I really feel about my body.
Our life together is great, we have created the most beautiful family together, and I wouldn’t want to change a moment of it for anything in the world. Having our daughter is one of the best things I have ever done with my life. She is my greatest accomplishment.
You know how I talk about my body, and I know it bothers you when I talk badly about my looks.So, this might be hard for you to read, but I ask that you really read these words and that you try to understand that this isn’t self-deprecating, it’s so you can really see how I see myself. I want you to take a peek into the way I look at this body, and why it is such a struggle.
I know you think I’m still beautiful, and you probably don’t say it as much because it is usually met with an eye-roll and a “yeah right.” You tell me all the time that I look “fine” and I always tell you I hate that word. That part hasn’t changed, I maintain that ‘fine’ isn’t always a good thing. You ask for Coke and they have Pepsi, that deserves a ‘fine’ but your wife needs more than that to feel like she looks okay. But I digress. Even yesterday I asked you if I looked okay, and you responded with a comment like, “If I tell you yes you’ll just criticize it.” It’s probably true, but it’s because I don’t see what you see.
We had such a short time between when we met and when we got pregnant, much less time than either of us expected (or that most other couples have), but so much has changed with my body between then and now. Being a mom has changed so much of me, but I can’t help but want that old body back. I hate that I’m stuck 10 pounds heavier than when we met, and ideally, I’d love to lose 30-50. I just don’t have the same motivation to workout like crazy anymore.
Before we got pregnant I was comfortable with my body for the first time in a while. I had worked so, so hard to lose weight and get in shape. I was proud of my new size, of all the work I had accomplished and had goals to continue to lose at least another 20 pounds. When I got pregnant one of my biggest struggles was knowing that all that work was being destroyed. Seeing my body change was so hard. It was one of the hardest things to cope with. That said, I would do it over again, and as you know, I want to expand our family, even with all that.
Having our daughter was the greatest thing I’ve done, and I do not regret getting pregnant for even a second. I would even willingly go through with it all over again because it is worth it when that baby arrives.
I just hate what pregnancy has done to my body.
That body I worked so hard for before getting pregnant is long gone. Now it’s been over 2 years, and things are just different. My stomach has a pouch to it, my boobs are saggy, I have stretch marks that could be seen from space.
You never complain about it. You never make me feel like I look any different. You are a perfect supporter. Somehow, you still find me beautiful, even though I don’t understand how it’s possible.
But the thing is, this body grosses me out. I can barely look in the mirror because every time I do, all I see is the imperfections. I see the 20,000 stretch marks, the thick thighs, jiggly arms and the loose skin. I see the extra weight all over my body. I know I’m only 10 pounds heavier than when we met, but everything feels so different. My old clothes don’t fit me right, my new clothes cling in all the wrong places. When I ask if something looks good, it’s met with ‘you look fine’, which you know isn’t an appropriate answer.
I don’t question if you love me, or if you find me attractive still. I know that answer. I question how you can look at me and not see what I see. I question how you can look past these flaws and love me for who I am. How do you manage to not want someone better than me, someone that doesn’t have all these marks, and lumps?
Even in our wedding photos, the day that should make me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world, all I see are imperfections. I would love to photoshop the pictures so that I could look at them without being disgusted. I can’t help but question if we would have done things backward (forward?), getting married before getting pregnant, if those pictures would be better looking. If I wouldn’t look so lumpy in all the pictures. I love to look at them and remember that wonderful day, but I can barely look at myself without focusing on every lump and bump sticking out everywhere.
Seeing pictures of moms who bounce right back without a single stretch mark, while eating unhealthy foods, makes me question what is wrong with me. Why can’t I get back to where I was? Why do I have to have all these marks all over my entire body? Why is this weight stuck on me like glue?
As much as I would love to expand our family again, I worry about what I will look like, and if then you’ll see me the way I do. I worry about the weight gain of pregnancy and adding to the sagging skin, and stretch marks. I know that it would be worth it and I would never regret it, but the after effects are what worry me most. The worries about my pregnancy health are nothing compared to knowing what my body image would be like after the baby is here.
What I would do to get that old body back
I don’t know if you know this or realize this, but I would honestly get plastic surgery to fix these flaws. I would get the boob lift to correct the sagginess, a tummy tuck to correct all the loose skin, and laser treatments to hide these stretch marks. I know you don’t see these as flaws, but to me, I hate them so much that I would prefer them to be permanently removed from my body. I would, without hesitation, pay to have them gone because, with them, they’re all I can focus on.
Things that never really bothered me before gross me out. I can’t stand my stomach, like at all. I cannot look at it in the mirror without wanting to throw up. I look disgusting from the chin down to my knees. It’s not that I was perfectly skinny before, but at least it didn’t look like it has been chewed up and spit out and I was comfortable in my skin.
I know by the way you look at me, and what you say to me, that your opinion of my looks hasn’t changed, but I can’t see it. You tell me I’m beautiful, but I don’t see it. If I could see myself through your eyes I know these flaws would just melt away. I’m sure I would look at myself the same way that I was before baby, and maybe even love myself a little more. I’m just afraid that one day you’re going to wake up and see me as I see, and you won’t have the feelings you have now.
I’m not alone in this struggle
If there’s one thing I have learned from talking to other moms about this, it’s that this issue is something almost every single mom deals with, in some form or another. I asked other moms what they thought about their body image, and over 90% of them said they struggle with body image in motherhood.
When I asked for genuine responses from other women, the most common word used was hate. There are things we literally hate about our body, whether it’s our weight, feet, stretch marks, or whatever. We hate the way pregnancy changed things.
We don’t feel as sexy after baby. Even if the weight is gone, the reminders remain, and we can’t escape it. It’s hard to feel sexy when the parts you’re most aware of are glaring at you.
Jess from A Modern Mom’s Life wrote about it beautifully.
She wrote “While my body image is better now that it was for the first few years after my babies, I still struggle to see myself as you do. My stretch marks, saggy boobs, and wide thighs keep me feeling self-conscious. I know I’ve lost weight through my own hard work, but it never feels like enough. Now I have saggy belly skin and flabby backs of my arms! It’s hard to accept my body for what it is, though I am working on it. The joy of knowing I created our amazing little people does help me through the negative self-image days!”
What did other moms say?
I gained too much weight and no longer feel positive about my body. -B
I don’t feel sexy – Y
I need to work out more. – Anonymous
I wish I was one of those who stayed perfect after a baby and I’m sorry I’m trapped in my own mind into thinking I’m anything less than perfect for me and you – M
I know you don’t mind the small baby pooch…but I do. it’s been two years…I don’t like it. – Jasmine
I wish I had the same motivation to get my old body back as I do with taking care of everyone else – MH
Nothing feels the same anymore. After 2 years, I am still trying to get used to the ‘new’ me. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin and I try every day. Thank you for still loving me and pursuing me. – Michelle B
I was really proud of my figure before the baby. It was a big part of my identity. I have to work twice as hard to stay a dress size larger, now. I know I’m still beautiful and attractive, and I’m not actually worried about that. It has simply been a huge shift for me. I notice little things he doesn’t, and I miss the body I thought I knew. Also, I can’t eat like I used to, so offering me unhealthy snacks or large portions stresses me out. – C
I hate it but don’t have the motivation to fix it. – Realism for Dummies
I hate what pregnancy has done to my body. – Anonymous
My body is a mess – JPH
My post-baby body reminds me of puberty. My shape is foreign to me, I don’t identify with it and I struggle with how to dress and maneuver comfortably in it. But when my husband holds me, he shows me how to accept and love my body. – Emma F
They have changed and I do not like them. I feel bad/insecure that I am no longer the slender, tomboyish girl you married. – M.L.
I wish I were more comfortable with leaving the lights on when we make love. I’m afraid you’ll see something that will turn you off and it will ruin the moment for you secretly. – House of Psych
I’m still adjusting, give me the gift of time and patience. – Candace
I love my body for what it gave us but at the end of the day my body is tired of being pulled, touched, stretched, poked, pinched, grabbed, bitten (don’t you love that phase?!) and jumped on. I used to feel like a goddess. Now I just feel like a jungle gym. Or maybe a bounce house. We have the squish factor in common. – Taylor
I feel like I’m skinnier than I am so when I see myself in photos or in the mirror, it’s shocking to me because it doesn’t match my image of myself. – Anonymous I have this problem too. In my head I’m not full of lumps and bumps, then someone snaps a picture and I’m shocked by how huge I look.
I don’t know if I’m still attractive or not – Mom’s K
This body is strong. I know. This body is amazing. But this body does not make me happy and I get angry with myself because I know I am capable of making it so much healthier. – Amanda
I continue to expand no matter how much I workout – Teach.workout.love
It’s not as easy for me to get into “the mood” anymore because I don’t like the way my naked body looks. I never had stretch marks or a tummy pooch before, so it’s hard for me to see myself as “sexy” this way. – Kyler
I don’t feel pretty. I feel like every other women look better than me no matter how many times you tell me otherwise. – KT
I think what my body did to become a mom is miraculous, but how do you even find these deflated balloons sexy? – Brittany
I wish that you would tell me thank you for bearing our children. Even though I love our kids, and it was worth every flaw to me, I’d like to hear it is worth it to you too since you are who I want to be most attractive for (aside from myself). -NLM
I feel so grateful and amazed at what my body was able to go through (creating & birthing our daughter), but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I wish that there was a way for it to go all the way back to how it was pre-baby. Even after getting back in shape there’s still loose and stretchy skin, and even though I know I should, I have a hard time looking at that loose skin as a “trophy” of sorts for carrying our child. I just want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and think to myself, “dang girl, you look good”. Someday I hope to get there, but Lord knows it’s much easier said than done. – CEP
As moms, we aren’t alone in how we feel
My survey showed me that even beyond the friends I have talked to, we all generally feel similar. There are so many other women out there who feel just this same way. So many moms who want to change their body, 60% of the moms I polled would go through the pain of surgery to be able to feel good about themselves again.
While it really helps to see that many other women feel and think this way, it doesn’t change the way I see myself when I look in the mirror. I wish, more than anything, that I could see what you see. That I could look beyond this mess and see something beautiful. Hopefully, one day, I will be comfortable with the way I look again, but I don’t see it happening in the near future. I’m trying, I try to see the good, but I get stuck. I’m so thankful that you love me as I am, and that you’re such a great support in my life. I love our little family, and I love being married to you.
Hopefully, one day, I will be comfortable with the way I look again, but I don’t see it happening in the near future. I’m trying, I try to see the good, but I get stuck. I’m so thankful that you love me as I am, and that you’re such a great support in my life. I love our little family, and I love being married to you.
Seeing what we have created helps because it puts things into perspective. At the end of the day, was it worth it? Yes, without a doubt. I wouldn’t change a thing about our family, in fact, I can’t wait to expand out family. What I would change is the way my body looks and the way I feel towards myself. Just bare with me, i’m working on it.
Moms, Do you wish you saw yourself through your husbands (or significant others) eyes?