This week I was thrilled to create and write the feature essay for the Today Parent’s newest “Challenge”. My idea was to challenge moms across the country to embrace their ‘mom bods’ and tell us why the love them. The amazing Parent editor Terri Peters loved it so I created the Why I Love My Mom Bod Challenge with three goals in mind:
- Get mothers thinking about insecurities that possibly hold them back from being fully present with their children
- Celebrate mom bodies in all their glory and how they come in all shapes and sizes
- And most importantly, how to instill a positive body image in our children by leading by example
Not only did Today Parents share my essay, but the Today Show did as well. This isn’t the first time a piece of mine has been shared with its over six million followers. And it is definitely not the first time my writing has caught criticism. But it is the first time many critics completely ignored the message because they could not get passed my physical appearance.
They always say, “Never read the comments,” but this is different. I want to be a part of the conversation. However, I quickly realized the comments went way beyond what I could answer in one day’s sitting. And to be perfectly honest some comments stung more than others. Not because of what they said about my body, but sadness because so many commenters used my mom bod as another vehicle to put their own down.
Normally, I would not take time to respond to such comments, but it did not sit right with me that so many readers completely missed the message, blindsided by their overwhelming need to comment on my physical appearance.
Therefore, I want to take a minute to address some of my favorite comments. There were hundreds of comments, making it hard to pull just a few. But somehow I just got tired of reading and deemed these the ‘best’ of the bunch.
The “You Don’t Have a Good Enough Mom Bod to Say You Have a Mom Bod” Comments
“Yeah, probably helps if she actually had a mom bod”
“I wished my ‘mom bod’ looked like that!”
“Soooo…where is her mom bod?”
I must have missed the lecture in Motherhood 101 that clearly defined what a ‘Mom Bod’ looks like. I did not realize that simply having a body and being a mother was not good enough to say I have a Mom Bod.
If stretch marks and belly rolls will justify my mom bod, then I can show you photos of that too. But I don’t feel the need to prove my mom body because pictures NEVER tell the whole story.
My worst Mom Bod scars cut deep – both mentally and physically. The scar that runs across my lower abdomen is my daily reminder of one of the scariest days of my life. It is where my daughter was pulled (literally) out of my body at just 27-weeks old in an emergency surgery. She weighed 1-pound, 15-ounces and remained in the NICU for nearly three months.
“You should wear a one piece suit”
“Love what she says, but her boobs do not hit her knees”
I can wear whatever the hell bikini, monokini, tankini or thong I want. I do wear one pieces to the beach and public places because I still have children that have no concept of private parts and like to use my swimsuit as a ropes course.
Also, one pieces are extremely hard for me to wear because my breasts do hit my knees. Okay, maybe that is an exaggeration. But let me tell you that the girls hang LOW. This is thanks to my premature daughter who I would gladly sacrifice my body for a million times over.
After many (many) months of solely pumping on my medical grade breast pump, it seems as though the pump not only took milk, but every ounce of breast tissue I had. Bathing suits, especially one pieces are hard for me to find. Bikinis work best for my low hanging gal pals because with a crane and a good strong square knot behind my neck I can raise them up to a ‘normal (ish)’ level.
The “I’m just looking for followers” Comments
“Another look at me bullshit blogger. That is not the typical mom bod.”
“Another Mom blogger looking for followers.”
You are correct: I am a mom AND I am a blogger. Where you went wrong is that the last thing I am looking for is followers. Sure, I have followers who read my blog. But I would actually have to be actively blogging all the time, posting, cross posting and know how to use that damn LinkTree (which I still can’t figure out.)
What you don’t know is that this blog started anonymously eight years ago as a way for me to navigate the rough terrain of eating disorder recovery. I was so ashamed of my story and felt I was a terrible writer so I did not share this blog with anyone. The blog’s sole purpose was for me to connect with the online eating disorder recovery world – anonymously.
Eight years later, I still blog. But there is no rhyme or reason to my writing. I write when I feel like, whatever I feel like. This blog served as my daily therapy outlet during my daughter’s early birth, her cancer journey and the loss of my best friend last year.
Followers are the last thing I am after. I could care less if I have one follower (thanks, mom) or one million, all I do here is tell my story for my own therapeutic satisfaction. I write from time to time for Today Parents because it is a beautiful (for the most part) community of amazing parents sharing the hardships and humor of this wild ride called parenting!
The “It’s Easy to Love Your Body When It Looks Like that” Comments
“She’s pretty thin with no discernible fat rolls, stretch marks or loose skin. A lot of women would have her attitude if they had her figure.”
“It’s easy to love your body when it looks like that.”
Let me tell you a little secret: happiness and body love has nothing, absolutely nothing to do what your physical appearance.
One more time for the folks in the back:
Happiness and body love has nothing, absolutely NOTHING to do what your physical appearance.
I have been much smaller and much bigger than my current body size and I was miserable and hated every inch of my body.
Body love does not automatically happen because you go Keto, drop xx pounds and fit into that perfect bikini. You are the same person a few pounds lighter and probably hungrier too.
My journey to self love happened over many, many years of hard work. I literally almost killed myself trying to achieve perfection and the perfect body. It doesn’t exist. But what I do know is that
I LOVE my body.
AND that doesn’t mean I have to like it every day. Sure I still have my blah days where I don’t want to put on my bathing suit. But I know society has programmed me to go to war with my body instead of the deeper rooted issue at hand.
Maybe on those body blah days I’m feeling anxious or stressed. So I do exactly opposite of what the gremlin in my head says – I throw on the damn swimsuit and soak up some sun.
When you can start to see your body as a beautiful vessel, an instrument that carries your precious soul through this crazy thing called life, then maybe you, too, can start loving and nourishing your body the way it deserves to be taken care of.
So say what you want about my body. I could care less. It won’t ruffle my feather or keep me out of a ruffle bikini. But before you comment on MY body, take a look in the mirror at YOUR magnificent body. See it for what it is – an extraordinary vessel and instrument. And while you are looking in that mirror look at that tiny human standing in your shadow, watching your every move.
Do you want them comparing their beautiful belly to a stranger’s on the internet? Or do you want them to look in the mirror and think to themselves, “I’m awesome!” I’m guessing it is the latter.
Comparison is the thief of JOY…and body love!
So stop comparing and start LIVING. Here is to ALL Mom Bods: big, small, tall, short, round, dimply, low gal pals, small gal pals, silicone gal pals and to every shape in between. I salute you and will see you at the beach!
RachelJune 21, 2019 at 8:50 am
Your words are so true! Reading your blog has definitely helped me look at my body differently.
You are a truly gifted writer as well. Enjoy your summer with your kiddos at the pool! ☀️
McCall DempseyJuly 16, 2019 at 11:46 am
Thank you!!! Enjoy your summer too!!!
Dawn S LiphartJune 21, 2019 at 10:50 am
Thanks McCall for your inner beauty and strength that shines forth to give us all hope! With Love, Dawn from Jacksonville, FL
ChristaJune 21, 2019 at 2:41 pm
LOVE. LOVE. LOVE this! As a recovered anorexic AND Mom I beg you…. Please keep writing! I love it all. Btw, where did you get that cute bikini?!?!
McCall DempseyJuly 16, 2019 at 11:47 am
Thank you!!! All of my swimwear is from my favorite high end store :P…TARGET!
Tisha (a.k.a. your former BR neighbor)June 24, 2019 at 11:38 am
Well written, McCall!! I never understand the trolls who insist on sharing their negative and unhelpful comments, especially on an article or blog that is sending a positive message to readers. Anyone who has ever read anything you have written can tell that it comes from a place of wanting to help others by sharing your experiences and thoughts. Let the haters hate and know that you reached at least one mom out there who needed to “hear” your words of reassurance and support. Keep up the great work, girl!!
McCall DempseyJuly 16, 2019 at 11:48 am
Thank you so much former neighbor 🙂 Great to hear from you!
R.July 5, 2019 at 3:18 pm
I mean this in love. . .but I am going to provide some gentle pushback. My point is to be constructive, not to tear down.
As a fellow woman in long term recovery, now a mom also, who has a career in eating disorders— I realized more than a decade into recovery that part of TRULY and FULLY shedding that ED voice was owning the relatively-thin privilege that I, like you, still own.
The reality is that when the average non-eating-disordered American mom looks at a body like yours or mine, they just see a woman who is not ‘overweight’. And to them the presence or absence of stretch marks/rolls/adipose tissue DO matter if a woman is speaking up about ‘mom bods’. The messenger matters.
I used to agree with your last point- body size has nothing to do with satisfaction— and then late in recovery, I got REALLY real with myself. I allowed myself to admit that if I woke up and gained 50 more lbs overnight, I would be unhappy. More unhappy than I am day to day with my body. To admit that is simply to acknowledge that we do not only have to fight our EDs- we also have to grapple with society. And the reality is we do live in a society that celebrates recovery if bodies stay at a certain ‘acceptable’ size, but judges individuals whose bodies become larger than ‘average’ in recovery.
I personally wonder if it might have gone over better if you owned ‘out loud’ in some way, that your body has stayed within that broadly societally ‘acceptable’ range and that this is a biological privilege that you’ve been given.
And it may be helpful for you to just recognize in your own heart, that some women whose bodies naturally are larger, whether they’ve never had an ED or whether they are in recovery, may feel sensitive when they see and hear you speaking up about ‘mom bods’ (which, lets admit, has a connotation of being not fit/not in shape/etc).
I hope this makes sense. Again, my prayer is that you receive this in the spirit in which it is written.
You are doing wonderful work and inspiring women every day.
McCall DempseyJuly 16, 2019 at 11:45 am
Thank you for you ‘real’ comment. I totally understand your point of view and have always acknowledged my body falls well within the acceptable weight standard. AND I also know that this is simply where my set weight point is. IF I woke up 50 pounds heavier of course I would feel uncomfortable because that is not where my body is meant to be. I also firmly believe in health at every size. My best friend was diagnosed with Lupus last year. She suddenly gained a lot of weight because of various medications. Another person I know was also diagnosed with Lupus and the same thing happened. They were both reluctant to tell me how they felt about their body, but when they did I absolutely validated from a point that it was not their body. It was the illness and meds that caused unnatural weight gain. Same goes to those who struggle with eating disorder and disordered eating. And we all have to find our set point and do the work to accept it – whether it is below or above where we always thought (or society) tells us to be. So yes, I am naturally in a society accepted body. I can’t change that. But what I CAN do is help others to look PAST our bodies and remind them the more important parts of life like not missing out on family fun or other adventures because of what society or our inner critic says 😉 Thank you AGAIN for your excellent comment!
ShaeSeptember 4, 2019 at 8:38 am
I so appreciate reading this and the timing could not be better. I am so happy I stumbled across your blog! You inspire me.