I was going through my Instagram feed when I came across a picture of Anne Hathaway, an actress I follow on social media. One of her first movies, The Princess Diaries, became an all-time favourite movie of mine, and I've followed her work ever since then.
Something she did recently that really caught my eye, and apparently also came to the attention of the press. She had recently given birth, and shared a picture of herself cutting her skinny jeans from the bottom up and across, with the following caption:
"There is no shame in gaining weight during pregnancy (or ever). 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. Bodies change, bodies grow, bodies shrink. It's all love (don't let anyone tell you otherwise)."
Her post went viral and was shared and heard by many women across the world. I immediately felt like I could relate—being a first time mother myself and knowing what it is like to have a post-baby body.
What's sad is that I've met so many new mums whose first complaint or goal is how much weight they need to lose, contemplating going on unhealthy diets to lose weight fast, while risking insufficient breast milk production for their child. It saddens me more when I hear of other mums complaining that their husbands want them to lose weight so that they will be more attractive again.
Love what you have been given
I gained 27 kilograms when I was pregnant. And for a while, I didn't feel like I would lose the weight. However, at the same time I gained this new sense of confidence and respect for myself, like I was a warrior of some kind to have gone through childbirth.
I knew in my heart that my body image isn't defined by what others see. It is defined by what Christ has given me. Christ gave me the most priceless gift anyone could ever receive, a new life both in physical form (our daughter) and spiritual form (myself).
My post-baby body had, for nine months, carried the most special and precious thing I could ever ask for. My post-baby body produced milk filled with antibodies, essential nutrients, 'liquid gold' as they call it, for the survival of a little human being. My post-baby body has scars, but these scars tell me a story of true sacrifice and love—a 43 hour labour—just to meet the love of my life for the very first time.
God's image of our bodies
God says in 1 Samuel chapter 16, verse 7:
'But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."'
God made us in His image, after His likeness (Genesis chapter 1, verses 26-27). My image is not what's on the outside; it is what's in my heart. As Paul said in Galatians chapter 1, verse 10. "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ".
Therefore I do not feel the need to shame myself if I haven't lost all the weight I wanted to lose, and don't even feel the need to fit into my skinny jeans. I don't need to shame myself if I have to eat more calories to provide enough milk for my daughter. I do not need to please man or even prove to myself that I need to lose weight in order to feel beautiful.
I can love what I have, which is the body God gave me. Christ died in order for me to live. The body decays, but the heart and soul remain forever. My body is a reflection of who God is, and shaming my body is shaming God. My relationship with God goes beyond my vanity and shame. God is sovereign. A perfect body is empty without the life God gives us in our hearts.
Clarissa Yates is from Singapore but moved to live in Perth, Western Australia in 2008. Clarissa is a mum to 1, owns and runs her cake business, Lollicakes, full-time. She also is currently studying towards an Early Childhood Studies qualification. www.lollicakes.com.au
Clarissa Yates previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/clarissa-yates.html