I was very late to the game in discovering just the other day that corsets are very popular again, thanks to Kim Kardashian. Only, they’re not called corsets, they’re called “waist trainers;” I suppose it’s to fool ourselves into thinking we aren’t just repeating the same archaic fashion trends over and over again. But it reminded me that there’s one element to our culture’s messed up beauty standards that particularly confounds me. That is the idea of “getting your old body back.”
This phrase came up a few times in the fluff article I read about waist trainers, with several celebrities claiming that the miracle tool helped them get their “pre-baby body back.” As if it were some object that had gone missing, or been stolen away, and they had now happily recovered it.
As if they had gone back in time and body-snatched their past selves.
But our bodies never go back. Our bodies keep living. Our bodies are the tapestries upon which our lives are laid out, the canvas our experiences are painted on. Our bodies are proof of our living; each stretch mark, scar, wrinkle, and sag broadcasting where we have come from and what we have gone through.
Our culture despises this proof of life. As our bodies show more experience, tell more stories, they become more abhorrent in the eyes of society’s beauty standards. We are convinced to constantly strive to erase the writing upon our own walls.
We do not have time machines. You can never have your pre-baby body back. You can never undo your life, or the lessons you have learned. Why do you want to pretend that you have not lived?
You are now post-baby, and will forever be post-baby, and that is something you neither can nor want to undo.
Losing weight and becoming a clothing size you once were is not “getting” that body “back”. It is the same body, an inextricable part of you, that has grown and shrunk along with you and will never be the same as it once was. You may be the same weight you were before, but your body is different. Your body has lived.
Sometimes I find myself regretting not being the same size and weight that I was five years ago. But I stop and remember – I was nineteen. I will never be nineteen again. I wasn’t done growing, and I was very much not done living. Nineteen was before I completed my degree, before I started medication, before I realised what was important to me, and before I had even actually finished puberty. Did you know that? – puberty actually lasts until your early-to-mid twenties. Think about all the women being told that they’ll never be as beautiful as they were when they were in their 20s, that their 20s was their peak, and if only they could get that old body back. Women are being convinced that they should strive to replicate a body that hadn’t even finished growing and had only just begun to live.
But I will never be nineteen again. And I have done so much living in those five years, how could my body have not grown and changed with me. My body is living, as am I, and I hope to be strong enough to never try to silence the stories it tells.