Miraclesuit // 2
by Ashley Weeks Cart
After giving birth to two female bodies with my own female body, and now raising two female bodies, I am more aware than ever of the insane demands and pressures women face in regard to their bodies. (An English teacher would have a field day with that opening line, eh? Bodies, bodies, bodies FTW!)
That’s not to deny that men deal with their own sets of pressures and societal/cultural expectations of beauty, health, physicality, masculinity, etc., but for the purposes of these posts, I am focusing on women.
My daughters have made me take a hard look at my own behavior, my own attitude about my body and other women’s bodies, and think about how I want them to think of their own bodies and the bodies of others. My own outlook and lived example will be the most influential element on their thinking at this early stage in their lives.
The bottom line is that I don’t want them thinking about bodies at all, but about people. Whole, complete beings who are so much more than pieces or parts. I want them to think of themselves and their personhood, not about the shell that their souls inhabit. (Lord that sounds cheesy but it is so very true.)
It is so critically important to me that I raise women who love themselves. Above all else. Who understand their worth and their value is beyond the size of their jeans or the cup of their bras. Who don’t need to make excuses for who they are and how their bodies look. Who love themselves so deeply that they understand the uniqueness and particulars of their own bodies, and can celebrate them, whatever form that takes.
I want them to know the power and strength and joy that comes from regular fitness and exercise, not because it makes their bodies look any particular way, but because it gives them both physical and mental strength and reprieve. Because it makes them feel good. Just like putting fresh, unprocessed food in their bodies makes them feel fresh and clean and well. I will never deny them the joy of homemade icecream or freshly baked cookies. The only “bad” food in our lives are processed, packaged foods. Something you grow in your backyard or make with your own hands is not “bad.” It is delicious and intended to be enjoyed. Just as consuming vegetables from one’s own garden or fruit from a local farm stand is a wonderful way to make yourself feel both mentally and physically well. Healthy. Good.
Food consumption and physical exercise should never be primarily motivated by a desire to look a specific way, but rather a desire to feel one’s best. The physical manifestation of that internal, mental, emotional wellness will come as a result of caring for oneself with respect, love, and joy, not fear, disappointment, pressure or shame.
Again, so cheesy. But so true. And so desperate to be put to words in the face of all the media and noise that tells us otherwise.
I try to live that daily with my daughters, from the food we prepare (our best attempts at fresh, balanced, wholesome meals with all the colors of the rainbow) to the way we talk about that food (I try to never refer to sweets or any food (besides processed, packaged food) as “bad” or “naughty,” as that is setting them up for dangerous, shameful thinking when it comes to enjoying food and their eating habits). We take time daily for physical play and exertion, whether on a walk with the dogs or running through the sprinkler.
I also try to exist in my body, this body now succumbing to the effects of gravity and maternity and age, with confidence and love. I walk around casually in my underwear and a t-shirt sans bra or make up on a lazy Sunday morning. I lounge in the backyard in my bathing suit on a hot day reading a book or weeding the garden. I dress up in fancy dresses and rock red lipstick for special dinners out. I dance like a fool while wearing my most tattered pair of sweatpants. I don’t glare at myself in the mirror analyzing every flaw. I don’t suck in my tummy or claim I can’t wear something because my body isn’t “right.” That’s not to say that I haven’t rotated some clothing out of my wardrobe over the past decade, but I do it because I accept that some clothes are no longer suited for this ever-changing shell and that I deserve to find clothes that make me feel comfortable, at ease, and confident. If I’m going to be fidgeting with the waist of a pair of pants all day because they no longer fit, I try to accept that reality as gracefully as possible, and I do not involve my daughters in any disappointment or frustration I may feel about it.
This isn’t to say that I don’t have my down moments, moments when I am sad or disappointed or frustrated with my body. We all do. But I have been working very hard, especially in the last five years, to keep that frustration and disappointment in check. To think about the root cause of that disappointment which is largely based in society’s expectations of what I am supposed to look like – not my daughters’, not my partner’s, and certainly not my own. A number on the scale or on a clothing tag should in no way define my comfort or happiness in my body. And I want to do my best to teach my daughters that before the world screams at them to feel differently.
And so in my bathing suit I dance with my girls, stretch marks be damned!
In these photos I’m wearing my favorite tankini in all the land by Miraclesuit. It’s got a built in bra to hold my post-breastfeeding pair in place so they’re not knocking my knees while I hang by the pool, plus high waisted bottoms so I don’t feel like my own bottom will make a showing when I’m seated on the edge of the hot tub lifeguarding two preschoolers. I love that I can tie the straps in a bow in front on the rare occasion when I am undisturbed in the sunshine so I can do some strap-free tanning, but that it is secure and supportive enough so that I can also chase my kids around the pool.
This is the second of three opportunities to win a Miraclesuit or Magicsuit of your choosing. That’s a winning of up to $180! To enter this week’s giveaway follow the instructions below via Rafflecopter. Thank you for entering and for liking Blog a la Cart and Miraclesuit on Facebook and for following @blogalacart and @miraclesuitswim on Instagram. We’ll see you next week!