The morning after I’d gone tit-watching with her husband, my friend KT made me “dance my way thin” with a “Afro-Latin” routine on DVD.
Admittedly the first incident didn’t actually cause the second – it just made for a good opening sentence, don’t you think?
You see, KT had actually arranged for Uncle B and I to go tit-watching together. And if she really had resented me for it, I expect she would have put on the “Fat Burning Dance Party!” DVD instead, where the instructor shouts instructions at you like you’re at some kind of Fat Girl Boot Camp. Personally speaking, I don’t think I could stand for somebody speaking to me like that in my own home. KT agrees – she usually turns the volume off and puts Justin Timberlake on instead, which should pretty much indicate how scary that FBDP instructor must be.
Anyway, the “Dance Your Way Thin” instructor was cute and full’o'pep and led us through the dance routine by calling out things like “Salsa to the left! Salsa to the right!” “Shimmy back!” and – somewhat confusingly – “Africa Arms! Africa Arms!”. What struck me most was how confident she was at the end of the routine when she congratulated us all for completing the Afro-Latin workout, like we’d actually done it and weren’t just sitting looking on from the couch with a drink in one hand and a family block of Cadbury’s chocolate in the other. Which we weren’t, of course, but only because it was 9:30 in the morning.
Now, I’m sure I lost some of you back at the first tit-watching reference. Okay, okay, so it wasn’t bird watching as some of my more ornithologically-inclined readers might have been hoping. You see, Uncle B and I went to see a show called “Busting Out” which is a bit like “Puppetry of the Penis”. Except with breasts. But I think you probably might have guessed that already.
And what a show it was. There’s something very empowering about seeing a grown woman turn her postpartum tummy into a wide-mouthed frog. Or to have an auditorium full of women all laugh together about loss of bladder control. Or just to see two ladies letting it all hang out as if to say “This is who I am. You got a problem with that?” It was like everything I’ve ever try to achieve with my blog except just bolder, brassier and semi-naked.
And you know what? I walked out of that show feeling shit hot about my saggy baggy body. Yes: shit hot. And the next day, after I’d been bustin’ an Afro-Latin move, I found myself pausing for thought - and not just to wonder what the hell “Africa Arms” were. I realised that I didn’t necessarily want to be “dancing myself thin” but rather just “dancing my way healthy” – except, perhaps, with better grammar. Whatever. I wanted to just feel good in my own skin, whatever my size or shape.
I remembered how Cate Blanchett once said in a TV interview:
I see someone’s face, someone’s body who has had children, and I think they’re the songlines of your experience.
This rang true with me because I always felt that my caesar scars are like songlines: they are my other secret smile. My deflated balloon of a stomach is a sacred place that once harboured new life and now just stores excess fluid and gas. My breasts… well, let’s just say that when I stretch down to touch my toes, my breasts get there well before my hands do and yet, for a combined total of 59 whole months, they nourished and comforted small beings most precious. This is my body: it tells my story. And it’s a story I should be proud of and not be hiding away as if it never happened.
And so I may go on to lose my “baby fat” or I might just lose all bladder control instead. Whatever happens, I want to like those Busting Out Ladies. I want to be able to stand in all my postpartum glory and be able to shout “This is who I am. Have you got a problem with that?” and know that I, personally, don’t have a problem with it at all.
The Not Drowning Mother wishes it to be known she’s not planning to make any semi-nude public appearances any time soon. But if she does end up making one, she’ll definitely blog about it.
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