**This is a guest post provided by a fellow Houston Latina Blogger**
Post by Ana of Power to Prevail
The Power of Vulnerability
A year into my project and I have learned that my greatest successes have come from sharing my biggest failures and scariest vulnerabilities. It has been in these moments I’ve discovered how much we all long to know that we are not alone in our struggles. While we all know that life is full of ups and downs it is in our downs that we begin to compare ourselves to others the most. Partially because we are seeking help and guidance but ultimately get embarrassed and keep it to ourselves while everyone seemingly has their act together. Since we only tend to share the positive moments in our lives it feels like an even darker shadow gets cast on our failures because it looks like no one else is failing but us.
I began PowerToPrevail to contribute my voice to the body positive conversation. It struck me that mothers were not nearly represented as much as I felt they should be. Women are bombarded with images of perfection and that’s a struggle in and of itself. Mothers deal with additional pressure of somehow returning to that same unrealistic body after an extremely miraculous event which almost guarantees the opposite will happen. As your story unfolds so does your new reality which doesn’t always reflect what we’ve been told. Ending up with stretch marks, scars, and loose skin we are told is the worst thing that could happen. We get sold on lotions, exercises, surgeries that will “guarantee” to fix all of that. So we end up feeling broken after delivering what is supposed to be one of the greatest gifts known to mankind.
So we hide that away from the world. We cover up our bodies out of a strange obligation to not upset others with the site of our bodies. Shorts and tank top becomes the standard issued mom bathing suit. I know I’m the only one who thought at one point that I should carry around a card to hand to people explaining that I am a mom of 2 amazing kids or that I do workout for all the races I’ve completed or that I have polycystic ovarian syndrome and my hormones are out of control or that I had to have major surgery to save my unborn daughter’s life that left a giant scar on my tummy or that I apologize for having subjected them to my many flaws OR… maybe I’m not the only one. Isn’t it scary how a complete stranger can articulate your own very emotions as if they’re reading your mind? I’m not reading your mind, I am sharing my humanity with you.
So this is me:
Shocking right? Why would I have a smile on my face with my body looking like THAT? Aren’t I supposed to be covering up and dressing to hide as much as possible? Shouldn’t I be wedging myself into a body contouring corset or at the very least saving up for plastic surgery? I mean I am showing all those things that are the very things we have been told to fear and loathe our whole lives. Shouldn’t I be sharing all the ways I should be working on “fixing” my appearance? My answer is No. I decided to create my own definition and change the conversation. I am a person, not a body. I am a survivor, not a scar. I am a mother, not a stretch mark. I am a woman, not a curve.
I’ve have woman after woman tell me that they were so thankful to FINALLY see another body that looks exactly like theirs. I honestly thought I was only me walking around with this kind of body. Turns out that I am far from alone. But how can that be? Haven’t we all been convinced that the only body is the “perfect” one we see in magazines or the ones we’re working hard to achieve?
I don’t know at what point it became our burden to remind each other that we are all human. That we have all been through and are currently going through things. That the reflections of moments in our lives are sometimes on our bodies. That we are not obligated or responsible to explain that to anyone. That the standards we have been subjected to are biased and baseless because it is impossible and insanely boring for 7 billion people to look exactly the same. The emphasis on the body is a distraction from what truly matters. That we have the power to define ourselves.
I once believed that my body was my greatest weakness and it made be vulernable. I thought the best thing I could do for myself was hide all of that so no one could hurt me but I was only keeping myself in the dark. I took one moment when I felt weak and shared that with the world anyway and instead of hearing criticisms I have been hearing nothing but sighs of relief. We must relearn to celebrate all of our successes and failures because it all means that we are alive and determined to keep going. This doesn’t have to be a lonely road. We’re all in this together. By raising each other up, we ourselves are also raised. I am not afraid to show my failures for surely success will eventually follow but the path to get there must not be taken for granted.