I never thought I’d say this… not in a million years… but, please don’t congratulate me on how thin I look. You don’t understand, my whole life I have struggled with issues of my weight and self-image. Although I’ve never considered myself fat, the message that I got as an adolescent and young adult was that being thinner is better. Well. I’m thinner now and it’s not necessarily a good thing.
Let me back up. In November, I weaned my youngest (cried for a week) and the end result was that my body didn’t feel like it had to eat like a 300 pound man anymore. A lot of the weight came off naturally and I beat my husband in a weight loss competition we were having at the end of the year. That weight loss was good (healthy). But since the beginning of the year, my little family has been enduring a time of high (HIGH!!) stress and the truth is that despite the fact that I am no longer “trying” to lose weight, I continue to do so.
I am thinner right now than I usually am because I am so stressed. Some of this stress is joyful like the excitement of starting my own firm or the fact that my brother is getting married (hooray!). But between the stresses of being a wife and mother, my husband’s licensing exam, starting a business, having a budding threenager, taxes, and my mother suddenly becoming very ill… my plate is full. So full that my hair is falling out, in clumps. I may look thinner, but I assure you… it is NOT cute.
So WHY am I letting you in on my life, stress, and pant-size right now? Because I have made two observations through this experience: (1) Almost everyone comments on my weight-loss like it’s a great thing! Many people congratulate me, ask for my secret, or just stop me to remark on how much weight I’ve lost. I am usually gracious and courteous and thank them or semi-lie and tell them it’s from weaning my (giant) toddler and not feeling hungry all the time; and (2) The people of BWI Austin have said nothing and they’re really the only ones.
Both of these observations perplex me greatly. It has taken ALL of my self-control and the sound of my mother’s voice scolding me to not answer, “because I haven’t slept in months,” or “well, stress give me the runs,” or “maybe I have a tapeworm, yo!” when well- meaning people tell me how great I look. Newsflash, I look thin… not great. My favorite comment through this entire experience has been a co-worker who said, “can I buy you lunch? You look… hungry.” I almost died laughing. If nothing else, this experience has taught me an important lesson: It’s not my place to comment on other people’s bodies. You can compliment some one’s creativity, honesty, passion, sense of humor, leadership, etc. and it won’t degrade them to uncontrollable metrics like appearance.
I guess that is something that the leaders of BWI Austin have learned. It’s counterintuitive though since in babywearing, size does matter (more than at my kid’s school… that’s for darn sure). We often say that buckle carriers will fit each frame differently like a pair of jeans. When the educators suggest or fit a carrier, baby-wearer size and certainly baby size comes into consideration. We see lots of posts that start with, “I am a plus-size babywearer…” or “I am very petite and…”
Yeah, size matters, and it doesn’t. Our new Babywearing 101 presentation starts with a strong and emphatic statement, “Babywearing is for everybody and Every Body.” As caregivers our bodies may be in flux, affected by so many things from stress to pregnancy to hormones to breastfeeding to not. At a season in our lives where we are lacking sleep and feeling judged, the volunteers conscientiously create an environment where every body is welcome, feels safe in our space, and knows that they will be helped.
Regardless of your size or situation, BWI Austin volunteers are here to help you with babywearing (at four monthly meetings) and not judge what is going on in your life or your outward appearance. I haven’t asked why our leaders haven’t commented positively on my weight loss. I haven’t even told them I’m writing this. Their likely answer will be because it wasn’t any of our business… and they’d be right.
Please note that I am publishing this at 3:20 am; stress insomnia is a real thing, yo.