Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Body Image

A few weeks or months ago (as Mike says, time flies when you're pregnant), someone mentioned to me that I ought to post some photos from our wedding day. You know, better late than never, ho-hum.

The problem is, I have a hard time looking at those pictures.

At the time of our wedding last year, I was 25 lbs. heavier than my normal weight during my college years. I tried to diet during our nine week engagement. I tried to exercise at nights and on the weekends, running around my neighborhood south of BYU campus, cranking out a grueling Jillian Michaels workout every Saturday morning. I tried to eat smart, but with full-time work (and office treats), a daily three hour round-trip commute, and the stress of planning a wedding, I resorted to comfort eating on many occasions. On my wedding day, we struggled to close my wedding dress. I tried to put it out of my mind, sucking my tummy in most of the day and smiling for the camera, hoping it would miraculously shave off 10 lbs. I was grateful my husband had about 5 lbs. on me. Had I passed him, it would have done a number on me emotionally.

I've watched friends magically drop 10 or 20 lbs. before their weddings. Their elbows look sharp, their arms toned, their waists tiny, and their faces thin. The weight loss doesn't last forever, but they look great in those photos that forever immortalize one of the biggest days of their lives.

I think about my body often these days, since it is changing so noticeably, so quickly. In general, women seem to think about their bodies a lot. I believe plenty of men do too. Though people love websites that expose pre-photoshopped celebrities and those viral Facebook pictures that preach loving the body you've got, we all still buy into dieting fads, avidly follow weight loss shows (Biggest Loser, anyone? I love it...), and applaud Jennifer Hudson for her dieting success. Right?

During my first trimester, I became incredibly sick. Daily, constant vomiting, accompanied by rapid weight loss. At 12 weeks pregnant, I was 15 lbs. lighter than I was on our wedding day. My wrists thinned, my face slimmed a bit. Though my suffering was intense and unrelenting, I found myself pleasantly surprised with the dropping number on the scale.

It disturbed me that I could feel this way, that at my age and with my perceived sense of personal maturity my appearance and the arbitrary number on a scale could mean so much to me. On The Bump, a popular pregnancy website, there's even a chart with your pre-pregnancy BMI and your recommended weight gain based on your body before you conceived. I've talked to many woman here locally who felt pressured to curb their weight gain during pregnancy, freaking out if they surpassed their "limit."

Please understand that I know that it would be reckless to gain extreme amounts of weight during pregnancy. But the paranoia about going 2 or 5 lbs. over a somewhat arbitrary limit perplexes me no end.

Before I got pregnant, my belly button looked like an upper-case O. I think "society" (whatever that is) would promote the number 0 as the prime belly button shape, with a lower-case o as an acceptable runner-up. These days, my navel resembles a bloated dash: long, taut, and thin. It's the weirdest looking thing ever. But I find myself relishing these changes, embracing them as part of my journey to motherhood. For the first time, I'm proud of my weight gain.

But I still feel weird about the photos from our wedding day. So, here's a few, in the spirit of, um, ambivalence. (All photo credits to Sanae James. Sanae, I'm sad we both moved away from Utah. With a baby on the way, I wish you were handy to document everything.)

Some bridal shots.

Married April 23, 2011
in the Mt. Timpanogos Temple. 

Surrounded by friends and family.

 It was a cool, misty day.

 He makes me indescribably happy.

 That cake was delicious.
Nom nom nom.

This has been a good exercise for me (no pun intended). My wedding day appearance included no fake tanning, no expensive professional makeup, and obviously, no Spanx. Yes, I still sigh and feel a little disappointed by my inability to look svelte on my wedding day. And I tear up, not because I'm a chubbyish gal, but because that day transformed my life. That day marked the beginning of the best and hopefully the longest chapter of my life. I'll never be a size 0 (or 2, or 4, or 6, or 8). But I'll always be loved and valued by and eternally bound to a pretty incredible man.


  1. i can't believe you are preggers!!!! That is so awesome! You will be such an amazing mommy. You were such a beautiful bride--one of my FAAAVORITES and I'm not joking either. I love you guys! I hope you are doing well! Can't wait to see pics of your new addition..:)

  2. I am so glad you posted this. You said things that I was just talking to Will about. When I was pregnant with Maxwell I gained 60 pounds, no not 6...60. I went way beyond the amount I was supposed to. I ate healthy, my BMI was actually low, and I still gained weight. My body needed to have the weight to take care of my growing little man. I have now been trying to loose the weight, and it has come off...but do I really need to be the size "0" I was before we got married? Will is still going to love me no matter what, right? Being a mom has changed my view on everything. My little man is the most important thing in my life, and I love the "stripes" he has given me!

    1. You are so right, love IS everything. I think you look great, and I've loved the photos you put up of Max. He's the cutest little guy. And so happy! Thanks for your kind comment. :)

  3. what gorgeous photos! you look like a magazine bride. that kinda makes me tear up thinking about my wedding photos and how they got ruined. so that is awesome you ahve such beautiful photos.

    1. Thanks, Alia. We had a really amazing photographer. I didn't know that your photos got ruined! That is terrible. What happened?

      Again, it was so good to see you guys a few weeks ago. I heard Janelle is moving down here. We'll have to have another reunion soon.

  4. I just love you! I can't even tell you how many times I have thought to myself that I want to be more like hillary. I love your post and how honest you are. I just wanted you to know I think you are amazing!

  5. Thanks for this post Hilary. Though I lost weight at the beginning of the pregnancy, I gained a lot at the end, what with bedrest and everything else, and while it's coming off slowly, there's parts of it hanging around. ;)Most of the time I'm happy with my "mom" body because it's my mom badge, and I'm so grateful for little Deborah, and my life is different now. I don't spend my days dancing, but caring for my wonderful baby, so naturally I'll look a bit different. Sometimes it's a bit hard though, a lot of women in the ward were pregnant at the same time, & unthinking others will rave to me how amazing it was that so-and-so hardly even looked pregnant & now look how skinny she is again, or one woman, seeing my skinnier-than-9 months pregnant face starts to say, "You look so g... (then looks me up & down)...not pregnant anymore." haha. But it is sooo wonderful to know that my husband doesn't care what size I am & loves me all through my changing body and focus on what's important.