Opinion

When the effort for a beach-ready body turns into being happy with a swim-romper body

Posted August 17

I looked at my friend who had a 3-month-old baby and couldn’t stop myself from blurting, “Oh my gosh, you look so good!”

“Oh, please,” she said brushing it off. “It’s the clothes.”

It clearly wasn’t. Her naturally slim body had shrunk quickly several weeks after birth, and she looked “back to normal” sooner than she had expected.

“I really haven’t done anything,” she said almost apologetically. “I know another girl who just had a baby whose husband asked why some girls — like me — were already back in prebaby clothes and she wasn’t? I didn’t know what to say.”

Who would? Gaining and losing weight is a huge topic of conversation in our culture. There is a borderline obsession with being “healthy” and “fit” and “cut” and “trim.” The perception is to want to have basically zero curves except the most womanly ones (which is practically physically impossible without surgical help). People lament about stretch marks, stretched skin and saggy stomachs. There are those who seem to base their self-confidence on how quickly they can get “back” to normal.

My friend later said, “I just read about a reality star who had a baby girl and said she really liked dressing up because she said, ‘It makes me feel like "me" again.’ But you aren't ‘you’ anymore! ‘Me’ is a whole new concept. It’s so much more encompassing after you have a baby. Why would you want to go back?”

The truth is, motherhood changes every part of us. We will never go “back” to the way we were, even if we can get our bodies pretty close. Our spirit and heart changed forever when we housed another being. I don’t want to stay the same. If I did, I wouldn’t have had children.

My sister and I had baby boys two months apart; her first, my fourth. I have gained and lost about 130 pounds over the course of eight years while growing babies. I still have a few pounds left I’d like to lose.

In March, we decided we were going to get “bikini ready” (even though neither of us actually wear bikinis) for summer swimming. We wanted to tone up and trim down. We went to classes at the gym and did beach body workouts. We would be super diligent — and then make cookies. We contemplated going on a super strict diet, and that lasted two days.

Summer has now come and almost gone, and I found that the rock-hard bikini body I was working toward actually wanted to stay a romper bod for now. And after finding the cutest swim romper online, I was OK with that.

Actress Anne Hathaway, who gave birth in March, recently posted a picture on Instagram of her “fat jeans.”

“There is no shame in gaining weight during pregnancy (or ever),” she posted. “There is no shame if it takes longer than you think it will to lose the weight (if you want to lose it at all). There is no shame in finally breaking down and making your own jean shorts because last summer’s are just too dang short for this summer’s thighs. Bodies change. Bodies grow. Bodies shrink. It’s all love (don’t let anyone tell you otherwise).”

“Why do you have to have a ‘bikini’ body?” my friend asked, shaking her head. “Just have a body!”

Just have a body. And love it.

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News. Her email is carmen.r.herbert@gmail.com.

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