A number of years ago, I was in desperate need of a new pair of jeans. I had recently had my second daughter, and nothing was fitting quite right. I convinced my husband to let me purchase a new outfit, even though, chances are, I’d be back into my pre-pregnancy clothes in a matter of months.
Knowing how valuable it is for a new mom to feel beautiful in her ever-changing body, he sent me off, keeping the girls at home, so I could have an afternoon of shopping in peace. We had very little money at the time, so I made my way to my go-to, ultra cheap chain store of the time. After browsing around for a few minutes, my arms were full, not just with jeans, but with a variety of blouses in fabrics that I wasn’t used to trying on, given the flowy, stretch-filled maternity clothes I had been living in.
I’ve always loved trying on clothes. Even when I’m not in the market to buy something new. There’s something fun, even therapeutic for me, about trying on new things and discovering styles that I’ve never tried before.
So there I was, enjoying both the peace and quiet of being baby-free, and staring in amazement at this post-baby body that, although 2-4 sizes larger than my “normal” size, was looking fantastic in each pair of jeans I tried on. Let’s be honest ladies, having children was the best thing that ever happened to my size 0 figure. Yes, it came with some changes I wasn’t prepared for, like stretch marks and back fat, but thanks to pregnancy I finally had womanly curves! As small as they were, they were still curves, and for the first time in my life, I felt like a woman instead of a child. I was thoroughly enjoying the process of pulling up a pair of jeans, and actually filling out the hips and bottom.
Armed with a reassured sense of self, I made the brave march out of the change room to the three-way mirror at the end of the hallway for all who are trying on clothes to share. (Hey retailers, private mirrors are way better by the way!) Walking towards the mirror I noticed things I had never seen on me before. I had these little hips that swayed with each stride I took, and this tiny bulge of flesh all around the waistband of my jeans… a muffin top? Was I really rocking a muffin top?! I was trying so hard not to beam with pure joy as I took in, what I measured as, the marks of womanhood on my frame.
As these thoughts were racing through my head, I caught a glimpse of two ladies also heading toward the same mirror. They were gawking at me with these glaring eyes, and as if I wasn’t even in the room, the one girl turned to her friend and chuckled and said, “Ha! Wait until she has kids!” They shared a mutual laugh, as the other added, “Oh she has no idea what’s coming to her…” Turning around with a forced smile on my face, (to mask the annoyance) I looked at them and said, “Actually I just gave birth to my second three weeks ago.” And ducked into my change room before they had a chance to respond.
I wish I would have been more secure and confident in myself to enter into a different type of dialogue with those women. In a moment of confidence, I was ruled by my insecurity. Faced with the same situation today, I believe I’d be quick to encourage, pass on a genuine compliment, and focus my efforts on making the day brighter of my nay-sayers. Understanding that insecurity often drives the judgmental remarks made by people, I would try to look past their remarks, and speak words to build them up. Not because I think myself better than them. Not at all! I can relate to a life mastered by insecurity and the resulting judgmental heart.
An authentic woman can see someone looking fantastic and can compliment freely. And a confident woman can be generous with her words. Ladies, there is so much more to life, than the petty, immature marks of comparison and insecurity. When you see your insecurity come out in the words you say, or in the lack of a compassionate response to others, let it be a gentle reminder that you are living way beneath the abundance you could be living in.
You are beautiful. You are valuable. You are loved.
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