Am I A Misogynist Too?
One of my favorite movies is an Adam Sandler flick called Spanglish. It is about a Hispanic mother and daughter moving in with an Anglo family and all that goes on. The gringo mother works out like a madwoman and the narrator talks about how American women get so obsessed with working out their bodies that they start to erase not just their womanly curves but also their feminine traits, like softness, kindness, and nurturing.
I love that sentiment. And yet...
I started running after I had my third baby. I LOVE it. I am 30 and I have three kids and I am probably in the best shape of my life. I run about 16 miles a week total - four days, four miles each day. I have loved that I feel better and more confident. I have loved that I have lost 20 pounds.
Despite all this, I come home, get undressed, look in the mirror, and all I see is my sagging breasts and my belly pouch.
I don't want you to think that I am an incredibly vain self obsessed shallow brat. I sincerely hope that I am not. In fact, I think I am like a lot of women.
I love my kids and I love being a mom. I am amazed by the power of the female body and its ability to grow, nurture and then feed new life. But despite all my wonder and all the joy I find in the powers of the female body, I look at myself and feel distaste for what motherhood has done to it.
I am constantly working to make my body look "better". I want to get into "shape". I could tell you that I only work out for health reasons, companionship with my running partners, endorphins, and all that (and those are all reasons I do it) but I would be lying if I did not admit that one of the MAIN reasons I exercise is to beat my sagging mama body back into submission.
I am on a constant quest to turn it back into what it was before.
When I am honest with myself I realize that I, a teacher of natural childbirth, a proponent of the inherent girl power in the female physique, a self proclaimed feminist housewife, am underneath it all, a misogynist.
I look at my motherly body and I am repulsed by it. I see stretch marks. I see loose skin. I see myself starting to age. I have even thought, "Maybe someday if I have enough money I will get _______ fixed."
What disgusts me even more than the scars that I have earned from growing life inside me, is that I actually have had a desire to get rid of those traits.
When I think about it, wanting to change the things about my body that have happened because of motherhood, is, well, almost a sacrilege. I should be amazed by my power and beauty. I should love it. I should not look with fondness on a body I had when I was younger and frankly stupider and more selfish. A body I had when I wanted men to look at me. (I mean really, who cares?)
I am not going to stop exercising. I really do love the way it makes me feel and the energy it gives me to be a mother for the rest of the day. I will try to remember that just because our culture only values women who are young and "perfect" that I should know better.
I should be a little wiser, a little more grateful, and I should practice what I preach. I should see the beauty in the mothers body, even my own.