A mom and her baby on the beach.


What Motherhood Has Taught Me About My Plus-Size Body

Aug 2, 2017

While prepping for a family trip to the cottage this week, I scanned my list of things to pack, checking items off along the way. Sunscreen? Check. Beach towels? Got ‘em. Swimsuit? Um, yeah, about that…

The last time I wore a swimsuit was 2015. My first son was not yet two years old, and I was happily getting in the pool with him every week for swimming lessons. We laughed together as he jumped into my arms and splashed in the water. In those moments, I was more confident than I had ever been — in a swimsuit, in my own skin.

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Like so many women, the complicated relationship that I have with my body stretches back into my early teens. And like so many women, it began because someone told me that there was something wrong with the way that I looked. In elementary school, I was teased about my weight. In high school, I struggled with disordered eating. In my early twenties, I continued to grapple with body image and self-confidence issues. And as a thirtysomething mom of two, I still do.

A complete stranger bumped into me in a swarm of people and called me a fat ass over his shoulder. For a split second, I was 13 again.

Ironically, it wasn’t until I was at my heaviest weight, pregnant with my first child, that I finally gave myself a bit of grace. I embraced the body positivity movement, and made an effort to focus on being healthy and active, rather than obsessing over the number on my scale for a change. I bought the bathing suit. I got in the pool. In that pool, I felt like no one was judging me or giving me any side-eye over my post-baby bod, because we were all too busy focusing on our kids to care about how anyone else looked. Outside the pool, though, was a different story.

On a work trip in the summer of 2015, a complete stranger bumped into me in a swarm of people trying to navigate a crowded New York City sidewalk, and called me a fat ass over his shoulder. For a split second, I was 13 again, standing in the recess line while a boy from my class knelt beside me, yelling, “bow down to the cow god! Moo!” as I willed myself not to cry. Outwardly, I made a crack about the stranger being a disgruntled Yankees fan and laughed it off. But inside, I berated myself for not working harder to lose the baby weight I had gained. And when I got home, I suggested that my husband take over the next round of swimming lessons.

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Since then, I’ve welcomed my second son, and my body has changed yet again. The unsolicited comments and body shaming haven’t stopped, of course, because that’s the reality of the world we live in. Being a plus-sized mom has meant walking a fine line between dealing with my own hang-ups and body issues, and trying to be a good role model for my boys. I still make an effort to focus on being healthy and active, because I want to lead by example. I don’t say negative things about my body or anyone else’s in front of my kids (which has cut down on my negative self-talk when they’re not around, too). While I may not be able to control the attitudes or opinions of anyone else, I want my boys to grow up knowing that all bodies are good bodies, and that a person’s weight does not determine their value.

Other people’s issues with my body don’t have to be my problem. My body is a work in progress, and that journey is no one’s business but my own.

I won’t lie to you, sometimes being a plus-sized mom is a rough road. My relationship with my body continues to be a complicated one, and it likely always will be. But I’ve learned that other people’s issues with my body don’t have to be my problem. My body is a work in progress, and that journey is no one’s business but my own. Getting hung up on rude comments from people who don’t really know me is a waste of time, and as much as it’s a struggle some days to overcome those negative voices, I’ll keep doing my best to silence them. Because at the end of the day, my kids think that I’m beautiful, just the way I am. They don’t care what size my jeans are, or tell me that I could stand to lose a few pounds. They just want to be with me, splashing in the water. And that’s exactly where I want to be, too.

Swimsuit? Check.

Article Author Alicia McAuley
Alicia McAuley

Read more from Alicia here.

Alicia McAuley is a freelance writer, editor and all-around web nerd who never met a pop culture reference she didn't like. The former editor of a parenting website, these days she shares a home office in the suburbs with her husband, two adorable boys, and two lazy cats. You can find her cracking jokes on Twitter @aliciamcauley and pinning projects for her to-do list on Pinterest.

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