But…Who Said “Size Small” is the Goal?

Ahhh, summer, the time of the year that I feel the most self-conscious about my size. That long, sweaty time of the year where moms everywhere cringe at the idea of donning swimsuits or shorts. In winter clothes, you can cuddle and hide – not so in a clingy tank top. In the heat of summer, your body is so much more on display than usual – your skin and thighs and tummy and just more exposed. 

size smallIf you have given birth, you know that having a baby changes your body forever. Even if you bounce right back into your skinny jeans, chances are your size is different. Your hips are wider, or your muscle tone has changed. You may be struggling with “mummy tummy” that makes your look a few months pregnant, even if your baby is old enough to walk. Whatever your reason, it is hard to get back into a shape or size that you like – or even recognize – for awhile postpartum. 

I found that to be true for me. I had baby #3 in January, weighing in at over 10 pounds, and a difficult recovery that coincided with a global pandemic. Though I had high hopes for “bouncing back” in time for shorts season, it didn’t happen. My body didn’t feel “summer ready” in size.

I finally felt good enough to begin exercising and took some body measurements so I could track my progress. The measurements themselves were slightly disheartening {though not unexpected}. Being pregnant and nursing had added inches to my size, but I knew that I could become a shape I recognized. It would just take time. But – what were my goals as I began this exercise program? I definitely wanted to be able to keep up with the physical demands of motherhood. I wanted to feel good in my own skin. Great! But – you can’t really measure those objectively. I tried to think of a goal that was more quantifiable – a number. A goal weight? A clothing size?  

After some introspection, I realized what I really wanted: to be a size small. 

All of high school, every time I got a t-shirt it was a size small. My pant size was in the single digits. And in high school, my weight was about 35 pounds less than it is now. 

But – I started high school 16 years ago! That’s over a decade! I had just hit puberty and my body was still settling into itself. I wasn’t an adult size yet. I had a teenage metabolism. Yet here I sit, a college-educated 30-year-old woman who has given birth to 3 kids in less than 5 years – and I am feeling bad about myself because I weigh more than I did when I was 14? That is messed up! 

Who said I had to stay a size small? 

I am not small. I am 6 feet tall. Try as I might, I am just not a naturally slim or thin person. Especially while nursing, my body holds on to weight. I have to be mindful about what I eat and be intentional about incorporating movement into my days to stay a healthy size. God blessed me with a curvy, not a willowy frame. My hips have gotten wider with each child. My bra size is a letter pretty far down in the alphabet.  Why not glory in that? 

Why not be thankful that my body brought three healthy kids into the world? Why not be amazed at what a woman’s body is designed to do – how it can stretch and change and create life?  I can strive to eat healthy foods that strengthen and fuel my body. I can exercise to gain mobility and energy, definitely. But – I don’t have to be a size small.

 It would honestly take a surgeon to make me a size small at this point. It is highly impractical. Society, try as it might to embrace all body types, still worships an unattainable ideal, a “size small.” These standards don’t do much except to make us feel bad about the wonderful, healthy bodies we have. It is so sad to think that all of us women are frowning at ourselves in a mirror, wanting to be smaller. Wanting to take up less space. 

size Growth is good – spiritual growth, emotional growth, and yes, even physical growth! Every season of life, we grow and change and adapt. I want to make a big impact on the world. I want to be a big force in my family and friends’ lives.

I want to love big, serve big, live big. I want my kids to dream big dreams. I don’t want my daughters to be handicapped by the same shame I have felt when I look at my double-digit pant size self. I don’t want them to wish to be so small. 

 My prayer for you and me as women and mothers is that every day, our heart grows. Our capacity for love and understanding grows. Our knowledge, our kindness, and our patience grow, and yes – even if our waistline grows, that grace for ourselves and others grows along with it. 

How do you feel about wearing shorts and swimsuits as a mom? What ideal size do you compare yourself with, albeit unfairly? 

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