I was 22 when I had my first child and 23 when I had my second and I ended up with a web of stretch-marks across my belly.
I was ashamed of my body but lucky enough to have someone in my life who did not love how I looked but loved who I was.
I remember thinking, in my thirties, that society encouraged men to feel ‘proud’ of their scars won in ‘battle’ and yet in the greatest battle of all, that of giving birth, women are encouraged to feel shame and to hate themselves and the evidence their body reveals of their courage, strength, determination and the incredibly precious gift they had given. It did not seem fair. It was not fair.
The greatest achievement in this world is that of giving birth. The greatest gift we can give to another and to humanity is that of giving birth. Why have women not been taught to be proud of that and of the effort their body has made and the price it has sometimes paid, to achieve that gift?
I began to feel more pride than shame. By the time another ten years passed they had faded to a light silver – quite beautiful really, and then within another ten they had pretty much disappeared – by which time it was irrelevant anyway. The gift of the fifties is you begin to understand that who you are is not about how you look, but about who you are. It always was but we are more easily distracted by media propaganda and social prejudice when we are young. I like to think the softening of our skin as we age reflects the need for a softening of our beliefs, opinions and attitudes as we age.
So moves now to encourage women to feel pride in their bodies however generous (I call it Goddess breasted or Goddess bodied) their shape, or not as the case may be; relaxed (flabby) their skin and flesh may be, emblazoned by evidence of their courage, otherwise known as scars is just to my mind, simply wonderful.
I rejoice for the women who come after me and the men who will benefit from women who love their bodies no matter how they believe they look!