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Love, Gen: Let’s Celebrate Body Positivity This May

Gen_Padalecki_BreastFeeding

My hands and my breasts.

They’re the two parts of my body that—even on mornings when I look like garbage and the kids are throwing tantrums—I can say without an ounce of hesitation that I love. It’s taken me a long time to get there, but it’s because my hands remind me of the three babies I’ve held, of holding Jared’s hands on our wedding day, of the meals I’ve cooked for my family. And my breasts, well, had you shown me a picture in my 20s what they’d look like at 37, I’d probably be surprised. They may not be what they used to be, but they’re reminders of my life’s milestones and markers, and all the things I’ve gained—three beautiful kids and a wonderful husband. Having fed my children with them, my breasts empower me, and these days I can embrace them fully for it.

Maybe this is TMI, but I’m telling you all of this because I’m fascinated by how the things we love about our bodies change—and our confidence changes, too—as we move through life. That’s why this May I’m focusing my energy on body positivity and how we can all be even just a tiny bit happier and more confident in our own skin.

Look, I’ve got my hang-ups too. I have a love-hate relationship with my stomach. I work hard for my body but I’ll never look like I did before children. And I do hear every now and again: “Your body looks great…for having three kids!” As women, our bodies are susceptible of judgement from strangers, family, even friends. After kids, are we just supposed admit defeat and let ourselves go? Or do we use our beautifully aging bodies as our own internal GPS system, navigating where we can show up for ourselves, invest in our self-care, and prove to the universe that we love ourselves enough to carve 60 minutes of “me-time” every day to go for a run, even if our babies come along for the jog?

At 37, I’m asking more questions about self-love and how that plays in with my relationship to my body and myself. In my 20’s, it was easy to take time for myself, but as a mother, I can’t help but feel selfish if I want to run to a workout, a massage or just some quality “me time.” We’re told that we’re selfish if we take that time each day to connect with our bodies. But is it really self-involved to love ourselves enough, so that we can show up and be better for our families, our husbands, and our friends?

I don’t think so. One of the truly great things about getting older is that I can embrace the fact that being sexy doesn’t have to be about being a perfect 10, putting on a ton of makeup, or having perfect breasts: sexy is about being confident in our journey to becoming whole. I actually feel my most beautiful in a casual chambray shirt, a good lip balm, and an unapologetic sense of self love. My own personal courage comes with knowing that, contrary to what I have been conditioned to think, my body is not my masterpiece – my life is. My family is. Letting go of the idea that our bodies are the only thing we have to offer the world brings a sense of freedom – and a sense of peace. We are a work in process: no one feels perfect, nobody feels like she completely belongs, and I don’t know one woman (yep, even Oprah) who feels like she’s got it all figured out. So here’s to being messy, and complicated, and afraid, but dancing through the storms and the sunny days anyway.

This month, let’s have some #realtalk about all the things that come along with body image, from intimacy to relationships to embracing your post-baby body. I’m looking forward to diving in with you, because loving yourself is a process. I by no means wake up each day with extraordinary self-esteem, and sometimes it’s the small victories and subtle ways in which we are kind to ourselves that make the difference. All we can do each day is get a little closer to feeling whole, so here’s to getting more confident every day.

 

 
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12 Comments

  • Amy

    What a great conversation to have, and thanks for starting it! Loving ourselves and our bodies truly is so important. Although I haven’t had children, at 33 I’ve struggled with weight gain. I’m back on track to getting down to a weight which will enable me to achieve and excel at my goals – run another marathon and become an Ironman athlete. It’ll take time and dedication but I know with a positive outlook I can accomplish anything. I’m really looking forward to your content in May to see what other great topics you have in store for us!

  • Mónica

    Hey Gen,

    Great post! I agree with you in many points, I am not a mother but have also seen my body change with age. At 34 almost 35, I’m still nowhere close to where I’d like to be but I’m working on embracing my body no matter how it looks. Being confident, loving myself is a journey and it is definitely not a straight line, it goes up and down, up and down, every day I embrace a new part of me and I feel self conscious of a different one but self acceptance and self love in the destination of my journey, not perfection. We live in a society that thinks that it is ok to have an opinion on other people’s bodies and people feel entitled to comment and judge but at the end of the day the only thing that matters is how we feel about ourselves. Of course, it would be great to have a society where women could build each other up, but even if we don’t have that yet, what matters the most is how we see ourselves. I completely embrace the fact that being sexy isn’t about being perfect, I’ve never felt perfect and probably never will but being sexy is something that comes from within and reflects on the outside, it’s about confidence, love, respect for our bodies and our minds, it’s about attitude and personality not about having a perfect body. I understand that specially being a mom, you could feel guilty taking time to take care about yourself but honestly if you don’t do it how can you take care of others. I absolutely loved your post, I love how honest and open you are. Thanks for sharing,

    Monica

  • Gifs Dee & Gen

    I leave here my applause to your attitude, we love the real, real women is a true work of art, the natural is and always will be the most beautiful, your courage inspires me every day, I am very happy to see powerful women declare love the real things of life , that show us that we can also be powerful and I thank you for it! 👏👏❤

  • Gifs Dee & Gen

    My powerful, brilliant, inspiring girl! 👏👏👏❤❤❤❤

  • Suzanne Lopez-Calleja

    I truly appreciate your words and I agree with so much of what you write. I love all my faults and I am proud of the way I raised my kids, nurtured my marriage and carved out the 60 minutes to myself, either through working out, therapy, volunteering or girls night out. Sometimes it is hard to rise above but with each step I take, I know I am evolving for the better. At 51 I feel the sexiest that I have felt in my life and I am so enjoying my sons, my husband, family and friends more than ever. Xo, Suzanne

  • Elena becker

    The struggle is so real for all women. I struggle daily with my body image and the changes that have occurred bc of having kids and now Lupus. Everything is affected by my illness and it just makes life harder when all you feel is ugly and tired 🙁

  • Carly

    Thank you for sharing! I’m 17, about to graduate high school, and it’s really hard sometimes (high school’s rough)! I want to thank you and Danneel for being such amazing role models that I can look up to. I’m currently going GF for the week and absolutely loving your meal plan- everything’s so tasty! Love your blog and keep up the good work!

  • Nita

    At 40 I am feeling more beautiful and sexier that at amy poimt in my life. i jave learned to love my body and that my confidence is sexy to my husband. Taking time for me is critical to being a good mother and good wife. I just wish I could have told my younger self that.

  • Adrienne Rogerson

    Hey lady! You mentioned your breasts, so I will mention mine. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 35. Today (at 43) I sit here recovering from reconstruction surgery. I have been cancer free for 8 years and I am thankful for every day. I was lucky enough to only require a lumpectomy with subsequent chemo and radiation therapies. My breasts and I were doing great until last year when peri menopause kicked in. Up until then, I wore my scars like a badge. Hormones came in and messed things up! My unaffected breast grew larger, almost a full cup size. Coming from a family of large breasted women, I’ve always had hang ups about my breast size. As a teen, I cried every time I had to go up a cup. I was terrified of being huge. As I matured mentally, it became easier to love the physical me. It helps that my husband totally digs every part of me. However, this latest development of having lopsided breasts just flipped a switch in my brain. I cut off sexual intimacy because I wanted to punish my breasts. We’d been through so much together and now this?!? Hence reconstruction surgery. I lay here recovering, bruised and sore. So, my question (s) is this: why do women place so much value on our breasts in regards to self image? Is it some deep root in our psyche or the fault of society? Why do women go to such extremes to get their breasts as close to perfection as possible? A

  • Sabrina Travers

    This topic is SO important. I’m a mom to two young children and it’s been very hard for me to be comfortable in my own skin and like anything about my body. After 16 months pp I’m FINALLY starting to get there. I’m training for a half marathon and with all the running I get my alone time to listen to music and zone out. I admin a wellness page on fb with other mamas that feel the same way as myself. We support and lift eachother up as well as post our goals, failures and successes in the fitness world and self care. I TRY to carve out self care for myself on top of my training because it’s just SO important to feel good for you, which benefits your family. I’m a SAHM so it can be tricky getting it but i try my best. As much as i don’t like body i also love it for what it’s done growing my two wonderful little girls. Keep these blog posts coming, i really enjoy reading them! xoxo

  • Jutta

    Thank you!!!

  • Jordy

    I saw this breastfeeding photo on Honest’s insta and knew it was you! So breathetaking.

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