The Sistah Vegan Project

Going beyond “What’s your excuse [for not being skinny like me]?”

Even though this is posted Jan 26, 2014, I wrote this about a month ago.

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I have 3 kids  under the age of 5, what”s your excuse?

I have 3 kids, so whats your excuse…?

Oh wait, wrong photo… That was before I had kids. LOL.  Today I just wanted to share with you that bodies change; my body changes and I’m okay with that. I think it’s detrimental to most of our mental health and happiness to start asking ourselves or even others, What’s your excuse [for not looking a certain way]? 

I videoed myself about 5 1/2 weeks ago, and showed how my belly looked more like I was 7 months pregnant. My uterus was still huge, 10 days postpartum.  So, right now, it is December 21, 2013. I am about 7 1/2 weeks post partum. We’re going to celebrate Winter Solstice tomorrow at Limantour Beach. I will be wearing my orange bikini of course, and this is what I’ll look like.

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December 20, 2013. 7 weeks postpartum.

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December 20, 2013. 7 weeks postpartum.

Stretchy, leathery, multi-colored, post-partum pouch belly: this is after 3 full term pregnancies. My belly looks like I’m about 4 1/2 months pregnant. I have mentioned this before, but plenty of people (even those who have had babies) publicly chastise women for revealing their postpartum bellies in public if they have stretch marks, are ‘pouchy’, don’t have hard abs, etc. That’s just not cool. A fellow Sistah Vegan wrote that she posted her photo of her post-partum bikini body on Facebook and more than one friend told her that she couldn’t believe that she would display her stomach because her stomach had the typical loose skin, pouchy, discolored look that most post-partum bellies look like. Wow, why would you tell your friend that and what exactly is wrong with anyone being out wearing their bikini with their unique and changing body type, period? My husband bought me this bathing suit 8 years ago. The first photo at the beginning of this post was from 2005 and the first day I wore it. It was my birthday present.

My bikini and I have been through three pregnancies, to Mexico, Italy, Plum Island, and California to name a few.  No matter what, I wear this bikini whenever I can, pre pregnancy, during pregnancy, and postpartum, whether I am 121lb with no stretch marks, or 144lb with stretch marks; whether I have a flat tummy, or have a beautifully stretched out post-partum belly, you can’t take me away from wearing my bikini!

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Fall 2013, pregnant with #3.

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Fall 2013, pregnant with baby 3.

In Mexico, Jan. 2012 with Eva Luna. 5.5 months post partum.

In Mexico, Jan. 2012 with Eva Luna, baby #2. 5.5 months post partum.

When in Mexico (see above) , I looked about four months pregnant and I didn’t care. Anyway, the point of my blog post is to basically share that all our bodies change, we all live our unique lives and situations and shouldn’t be bullying anyone about ‘What’s your excuse’? It’s just plain rude, unmindful, and cruel. Most likely, my body will never look like it did before I had babies, but I just thought it was important for me to share that this is what it looks like now, and despite being trained in this US culture to hide it and be ashamed of it, or have to answer to certain people who demand, “What’s your excuse for [not looking like me], I have 3 kids under the age of 4?”

Back in 2012, I wrote a comical blog piece about how most of us women who have had babies, can look like Beyoncé, several months after giving birth. Click here (Look Like Beyonce at Giving Birth) for a little laugh.

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29 thoughts on “Going beyond “What’s your excuse [for not being skinny like me]?”

  1. blueberries on said:

    Thank you for speaking up about this issue. You are beautiful and I admire your confidence and tenacity.

  2. I think you look beautiful in all of your pictures. I think it’s so much more important to think of our bodies in terms of what we can do instead of how it looks when we are doing them!

  3. Great post. Thanks for encouraging us all to be happy and free in our bodies.

  4. “What’s Your Excuse?” appears as the caption with the online photo of Maria Kang (now known as the “fit mom”) with her three toddlers… implying women can’t claim that they were pregnant, have recently given birth, are raising children, etc. as an excuse not to stay in shape.

    Around 1979, there was a book entitled Fat Is A Feminist Issue. Now men are judged by their looks, too. Fat is everyone’s issue.

    I won’t say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it IS subjective. I once wound up in bed with two women — one of them skinny and flat-chested, the other slightly overweight but well-endowed. I prefer curvy women.

    Paris Hilton referred to Kim Kardashian’s posterior as “disgusting,” but Kim Kardashian has posed nude twice and was voted the sexiest woman alive by male viewers.

    In September 2007 I was matched online with a single mother. She said she was worried I might not find her attractive. When I said she might not find me attractive as well, she said it’s different for women than for men. When she described herself as “short and chubby” (which wasn’t true at all!) I merely said, “I’m *tall* and chubby. We’ll get along great.”

    A few years later, my buddy Randall saw one of my pictures of her. “She’s fat!” he exclaimed. “She’s a mother,” I said in her defense. This is what real women look like.

    A couple of years ago, I was dating a woman new to the vegan scene. She emailed me about losing weight to make herself more attractive to me. I responded: “The real reason to go veg is for the animals. My father was always putting down my mother for being overweight. I would never do that to you!”

    Our culture places too much emphasis on being thin as an ideal for beauty. Nearly all of the “plus-sized” models: Leah Kelley; Barbara Brickner; Whitney Thompson; Laura Wells; Robyn Lawley; Ashley Graham; Chloe Marshall; Justine LeGault; Mia Tyler; Tara Lynn; Kaela Humphries; Candice Huffine; Fluvia Lacerda; Nadia Aboulhosn, etc. are all perfectly normal!

  5. In answer to the question, I neither have nor need an excuse…no or does anyone else. Why on earth would you care about the size/shape of a body you’re never naked with?

  6. Thanks for commenting on this, and speaking about your experience! I think the biggest problem I had with this minor “controversy” was that it seemed like it was presupposing that anyone owes her, or anyone else, an excuse for looking a certain way. That, I think is at the root of most, if not all, body image issues people in the West have (men and women).

    • I am sure Kang didn’t mean to be ‘mean’, but I think a lot of us in the USA culture have been taught that it’s ‘normal’ and ‘okay’ to shame bodies that don’t conform to societal norms. I too had preconceived ideas of beauty and healthy, growing up in the early 80s of a white rural new england working-class town. I thought I myself wasn’t beautiful because of my skin color, in comparison to the white girls around me, and thought it was ‘normal’ to think this way.

  7. I shared this blog, and you have no idea how deeply it resonated with so many people on my FB page. You are amazing, and incredible. And your voice is such a refreshing beacon! Thank you so much for existing.

  8. Realistic images of real child bearing. Can I admit that I was tracking your body progress throughout all three of your wonderful children? Please, before you get weirded, out I was just dying to know the bodily aspects of having children. Most vegans I know bounce back to their bodies in a snap. I never understood it worth the life of me and it’s divine to actually see it and to know what to expect. Even in a predominantly vegan pregnancy. Thank You. Thank you for being comfy in that!

    • Everyone’s bodies are different. I bounced back after having Sun. My body looked like it did back in 2005. But sun was my FIRST baby. With many women, vegan or not, bodies don’t necessarily bounce back once you have had a 2nd, 3rd, 4th child. If one desires to have the body they had, either before pregnancy, or after their first baby, it’s not IMPOSSIBLE, but it can take a lot more work to do it, if that is what you desire. I’m just taking my time and I have started trying to get back into being stronger (which doesn’t necessarily mean skinnier) through working out. Instead of driving to get the kids from nursery school, I strap the baby to me and then walk down to get them, go to the play ground with the double stroller, and then go back up to the hills. I did that yesterday, for example, and it was 90 minutes of me walking up the hill, taking my time, pushing the double stroller while Kira Satya was strapped to me, breastfeeding and sleeping…. I don’t expect to look like I did in 2005, but I do just want to feel stronger and healthier. I notice if I sit around all day, I am less strong and my immune system doesn’t feel as strong. Not that you asked me all that :-)

  9. Annette on said:

    This is lovely. Thanks for sharing.

  10. I admire your confidence in yourself and your tenacity. You arrested this issue gracefully.

  11. i never plan on having children, but am obsessed with aging and how our bodies, as women people, change. i really appreciate your sharing of your body to educate us on how our bodies change without shame. THANKS. we never have access to these images. just seeing images of post partum bodies is so important, its always hidden.

    • Dear Wendy, I am 65 years old, single most of my life, childless, and as fit and fat as I have ever been. I ADORE my body and all the pleasures it brings me. Especially sexually. I’m just saying…

  12. Thank you for sharing!!!!

  13. Pingback: Going beyond “What's your excuse [for not being skinny like me <b>…</b> | Globetrotting Wino's Curvy Girl Style and Fashion

  14. You rock.

  15. Miss E on said:

    I just wanted to tell you that you’re really beautiful. In my culture (I’m Ashanti), there’s a saying that you see a woman’s true beauty after she gives birth. And you, Madam, are one stunning woman! You go on & rock your orange bikini. PS: I love the picture where you were pregnant & your child was putting shells on your tummy. It’s soooo adorable!

    • Dear ms e, I guess Wendy and I are out of luck in the true beauty department, then?

      • Miss E on said:

        @ Susan Starr: Sorry for the late response, I’m just seeing this. No. The proverb doesn’t mean that women who have had no biological kids (I don’t have biological kids myself) are ugly. It is a proverb that celebrates the beauty of women through the different phases of life. Today, several women feel pressured to ‘reveal trim post-baby body’ sometimes, tragically causing them to develop baby bodies.

        In my culture, people encourage women who have had biological kids to be proud of their stretchmarks, rounded bellies & other things that are disdained in other cultures because it is believed that all these things are beautiful too. I translated this proverb from the Twi language to English. When one translates a proverb or idiomatic expression from one language to the other, subtle connotations are often lost & the cultural context is not conveyed. Any Ashanti who hears the proverb in its original language (Twi) automatically understands that it’s not meant to put ‘childless’ women down. By the way, because the Ashanti culture is matrilineal, there’s no such thing as a ‘childless’ woman because a woman’s sister’s kids & counsin’s kids are considered as her kids too.

        Peace and light to you

      • Miss E on said:

        @ Susan: typo alert lol. I’m sleepy while typing this so pardon me. 5th line should read “Today, several women feel pressured to reveal ‘trim post baby bodies'; sometimes, tragically causing them to develop eating disorders. Best wishes!

      • Miss E on said:

        Sorry if this appears twice (I typed first correction but it wasn’t posted due to an error). My 5th line doesn’t make sense and should have read “5th line should read “Today, several women feel pressured to reveal ‘trim post baby bodies’; sometimes, tragically causing them to develop eating disorders. “. I was sleepy when I typed that so pardon me.

      • Miss E, thanks for the clarification, and thanks for adding to the dialogue as well.

  16. Love this post. Love your honesty. I had recently done the same (in a bikini after two babies) and not looking like [insert celebrity here]. My belly felt the sun for the first time since I was pregnant, over 3 years ago, and I did get people looking at my wrinkly belly. Years ago people would look at my big butt, or my small boobs, or whatever didn’t fit their mold so I wore a t-shiirt and shorts to the beach until I was 20. Thank you for sharing- Free the Tummies.

  17. artemis on said:

    you are beautiful and inspiring

  18. Pingback: [Personal Narrative] Keeping Up Appearances By Seetal Kaur Gahir – The Body Narratives

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