Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Body Beautiful

I was an ugly duckling. Not that I consider myself magically transformed into a beautiful swan, but I think the way I look now is certainly an improvement over the me of a few years ago.

There is a saying that certain women have bodies made for motherhood, but this usually implies a full figure and child-bearing hips, not necessarily the most attractive physical features, depending on your taste. But now I am a mother, I think I understand what the term means. 

In the years BB (Before Baby), I was skinny - a size 0, long limbed and with no feminine curves to speak of. A dozen years of ballet will do that to you, and good genes. I ate like a person starved, massive quantities of everything, and never gained an ounce. People hated me at school - the anorexics and bulimics particularly - because I was thin thin thin. It was great to look good in skinny trousers and short skirts, but I longed for real A cups. 

Maybe two or three years ago, when I stopped all forms of exercise apart from rushing about as a weekend wedding coordinator, nature decided it was time to turn me into a woman. Suddenly my size 0 skirts and trousers no longer fit. I had grown hips. A size 2 overnight, the bottoms I'd worn since college were now banished to the garage sale box, and I reluctantly bought new ones two sizes larger. My negative A cups may have grown slightly larger with the weight gain, but not noticeably so. 

My Cups Runneth Over

Then came pregnancy. Right before I gave birth, my husband took photos of me from behind, an angle from which you couldn't tell I was carrying what would be a 6lb,7oz. boy. My waist was still defined, my legs and bottom were still the same, all that was bigger was my tummy, my cheeks, and finally, my A cups. Yay! 

Pregnancy did great things for my skin, too. I'd battled oiliness and acne breakouts from the teenage years til my late twenties (apart from the six or so years when I was on the pill), then suddenly my skin was perfect. The hormones certainly agreed with me, unlike the women I knew who had perfect skin all their lives and then broke out during pregnancy. My formerly sensitive skin could now be washed in any kind of soap - yes, soap! Not just gentle liquid facial cleansers. The only thing that marred my "perfect" skin was a slight darkening of my underarms in the last few weeks prior to giving birth, but my gynecologist assured me this was temporary, and thankfully, she was right. The thought of never being able to wear sleeveless tops again in a tropical country terrified me, with my wardrobe of spaghetti strap shirts.

The first two or three months after my son was born, things got even better. My body hair stopped growing. Joy of joys! Suddenly I didn't need to shave my legs or tweeze my eyebrows. This was nature's way of eliminating unnecessary beauty rituals so that new mothers could spend more time with their babies, I believe. None of the reading I'd done mentioned this wonderful postpartum side-effect, but I loved it. 

Sadly, some good things must come to an end. By the 4th month AB (After Baby), I was back to shaving, tweezing and waxing, but to this day, 9 1/2 months after my son's birth, my skin is still fantastic (knock on wood it stays this way), and my post-pregnancy body is what I dreamed of all those years of skinniness. The 22 1/2 pounds I'd gained while pregnant dropped off within 3 weeks of giving birth, followed by 4-5 more. I was thin thin thin again, but this time I had more than A cups. (Another reason to keep nursing as long as possible!) My bottom is less round than it used to be, so I'm back to size 0, but this time my body looks more proportioned (to my eyes, at least) with more on top. 

My husband commented that it was like being with a totally different woman, body-wise. Never a breast man (or else he would never have married Ms. Less-than-A-Cups), he's getting used to my new boobs, and is happy that the rest of me looks just the same (except for those pesky varicose veins, grrr, which thankfully he claims not to see.)

While the summer is hot, I'll enjoy parading around in my bikinis, which I finally fill the way I'd always wanted to. Next summer I'm sure my body will be different again, so for now I will wear all the cleavage-revealing tops I can. Woohoo!

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