In high school I thought I was fat and looking back I see that really, I had some bad haircuts but I was otherwise ‘normal’. At around 17, my feelings on the matter got quite serious and I began a long and fairly ordinary road of self-esteem issues.
Most teenage girls experience it at some stage but sadly, mine spiralled into a ten year long love/hate relationship with bulimia.
The severity waxed and waned, depending on what else was going on in my life, but I have to raise my hand and say, yep, I was pretty average to my body, in various ways, in those years.
I tried therapy and shrinks and they all wanted to pin responsibility on outer influences – my father not being there, leaving home too early, my Mama getting sick in my early teen years and me being unable to help her but none of if really resonated with me as I really owned it.
It was mine.
I think it was just something I could control, and that was it. I don’t talk about it in great detail, but it’s not a secret either. It was a part of my life and most of my friends know that I’ve struggled at times and I’m not proud of it, but I’m not ashamed either. I do know that I will endeavour to instil confidence in my daughter from an early age as I hear this kind of stuff starts so much earlier now due to one influence or another.
It’s important I tell you this so you can feel the importance of the next part of my story……I have had an about face on the matter and I now love my body.
I have days where I’m not so thrilled about bits of it, of course, but now I have a deep respect for my body that goes far beyond appearances. My body is an amazing machine. I produced a child.
I know that animals and humans alike have been doing it for a millennia, but my body did it, too. My skin, my cells, made another human being (with a little help).
It was during this process that I realised the worth of my body. I fell pregnant very easily, by accident in fact, but the best accident that could ever have happened in our lives. My pregnancy was without incident, a little burp here and massive burp there, but really, I had it easy.
My labour was text book. It was damn hard work but my baby came out of my body naturally and in the way that I had hoped and dreamed would be possible. I don’t have bad memories of my labour, just a deep sense of gratitude to my body for doing what it was designed to do, with no dramas.
I breast fed for a year, with no problems, with milk a’plenty in fact, sometimes way too much in public when I wished it was not spreading like a slow leak across my top, but when some of my friends were struggling and in tears over the process I was finding so beautiful I knew that I was lucky…..and here I am again, with days to go before I hold my new baby in my arms, and I feel like my body is on my side again, and everything is going like clockwork.
Of course, I have no control over what kind of labour I’ll have this time, but I know that my body, my machine, can handle whatever is thrown at it.
So, perhaps my kit doesn’t quite sit where it used to and the days of wearing a backless dress with no bra are long gone, but it was worth every little sag or excess fold of skin. We earned them well, my body and I.
I think it’s always great to get some pregnancy photos, and my last ones were fairly standard and normal. They were pretty. This time I had an idea of how I could try to embody the mystical, miracle of pregnancy. I spoke with a photographer friend about my idea and he laughed quite heartily and told me I was hilarious, but he was keen to help. Maybe he just wanted to see my jugs.
My dear friend called them the ‘Woodland Creature’ images, and I kind of like that title. I just wanted to document my pregnancy, and do something a little kooky……….so The Woodland Creature was born.
How weird are they? So weird. But that’s ok.