I was JUST reading an article about how Bey and Serena (I'm watching her HBO doc piece by piece - thanks Mom) are changing the narrative on motherhood in Hollywood. I can NOT even imagine being watched in that way, under a non-scientific microscope. So I got to thinking, Hollywood is everywhere apparently. We seem to be catwalking, for everyone's else pleasure, through life. Validation, not only do we crazily seek it from the wrong forces sometimes, but folks think that we need their validation. What is going on here?
I ain't never been skinny and I ain't never going to be. A couple of nights watching "Being Serena" I told my husband, I wished I had a "Serena" as a role model growing up. Because when I work out, I get muscular. Like big muscles! One time my mom made me a dress in the 8th grade for my father's brothers (will never call him uncle) wedding. Well I was on the track team (go Drexel Hill 1993 - 1994 Track Team!), and we needed to start weight training. In that short time I had couldn't fit my arms in the dress. It was horrible and embarrassing; we had to remove the sleeves (not my version of couture). My dady sometimes calls me his linebacker. Therefore, me thinking that I should be a size 2 is probably not healthy. It is no more likely that I will become "light-skinned." However, when you grow up "thicker" and darker, colorism and weight seems to be in the forefront. Especially when your mom is light and size 2; somehow you always feel a little smaller, but not in a good way. My parents never put that negative energy out there. I was always a beautiful princess to them, even though I was dark or rounder. Thanks mom and dad!
I remember two times being called fat twice to my face. One time, on my side of the family (when I say sides of family that generally refers to my mother's side and my in-laws, as I have no father's side - just a father and that is another blog), I was at an aunt's house...and this dude says "Oh you getting fat now." I was around 13-14. He was in his 20s, so it was not in that "pop-pop" voice. It was meant to cruel and hurtful, and in his eyes - funny. His words burned. I was active 6-7 days a week and I was an 11 at the 5-7-9 store, which translates to a 6 or 8 these days. I had actually thinned out from my initially puberty days. Plus guys where starting to notice me, I had boyfriends, suitors (a poor teenager's measuring stick). I never spoke to him more than a couple words after. After I got into medical school, he tried to congratulate me. It was not my highest moment, I treated him like a peon. Now older and his daughters got rounder and thinner and rounder, I wondered how he would feel if a man tried to pass his unsolicited comments to tear them down. What about his granddaughters?
The second time was 11 weeks after I had my first. I was a 2nd year resident. Backstory (as if I haven't been using parentheses this whole time): My third and fourth years of medical school, in weeks I lost the support system that I had built. I love those men. The prior two years I had spent surrounded black men, and the Mexican guy, the Indian dude - hehe - that was the gang! Moreover a host of other acquaintances that were familiar and welcoming mostly. I remember the red hair almost-doctor, but grown man who had experience, managed to almost always hug me or pat me on the back to say "It's alright." Ok that was a truly disgression - ha I am a the QUEEN of I DIGRESS (ok it is really almost diagnosable inattentive disorder, but I just like or dislike my thoughts so much they occupy my time). Anywho, in the last two years of med school I fell into my first depression and gained an uncontrollable amount of weight in a short amount of time. I was 235-236 pounds at the end of my first pregnancy and most of that was not baby weight. I had hyperemesis gravidum and severe pubic and pelvic pain, only gained 10 pounds up until 36 weeks. So imagine the joy of being active, up and walking, breastfeeding when I go back to my check up one week later and I had lost 30 pounds. By my six week check up I was down to 195. So I am over an aunt's on my other side (my in-laws) when a random women, this time of age, says "how old is the baby?" (and Brielle was very advanced and she weighed 12 pounds, so I could get how it was confusing). I say her age. And do you know she said to me, "I guess these young girls don't lose the baby weight like they used to." My thoughts: MY NORTH PHILLY ASS WILL HOP UP AND SLAP THE **** OUT OF YOU BECAUSE CLEARLY BACK THEN YOUR MAMA DIDN'T TEACH YOU MANNERS BACK THEN. But my mother did. So many times, I almost got into trouble and I would see a flashing headline - "Student Dr/Physician/Mother/Black Women gets in a fight at IKEA/gets arrested in family brawl"...you get my point. I am so thankful I have that stopping point. I could not believe the nerve of random people! I had just lost 40 pounds. PLEASE do not judge a person's end point (ever), especially when you do not even know the journey. I always say 'I cannot want that body or life, because I do not know what genes or issues lie ahead or behind that person.'
Now looking at Janet Jackson's new video, her up and down weight story - I ask myself where are the stretch marks - not in a judgemental way, but in a celebratory way. My 6 year old tells me I have a beautiful body and she loves my squishy tummy - because it was/is her home. The stretch marks from mid arm to mid thigh (maybe even on the back of my knees but I refuse to look back there) are mainly a story of winning. I only get stretch marks when I lose weight. From after med school, I have lost a whopping 70 pounds. I did gain 12 back in my super stressful moments now, but that is ok. I have plateaued. I tell everyone the beauty of the plateau because so many people are gaining in Western culture.
So To-DAY I looked in the mirror at the back fat and stretch marks and I said 'OK!' I have always been loved with imperfections, ain't no stretch marks going to change that! I am in the journey, with the failures and successes.
-PS: Lots of talk about Beyonce and Serena finding a balance between work and motherhood. I am sorry to all of the patients, jobs, and people that I dropped like a sack of potatoes for my children. I found a balance and it is waaaaayyyyyy in their favor.