Facing my body image truths!


I’ll never forget the first time it happened.

My husband and I had loaded up with film for our camera, and taken our young family  to the park for some pictures. This was an expensive undertaking for us at the time, and one that we didn’t budget for very often. I was hoping that somewhere in all of those photographs, I would find a few perfect pictures that captured the cuteness of our little kids.

But when I got my pictures back from the drug store, I was stunned to see something unusual in a few of the pictures. There was a stocky woman in shorts, with varicose veins and a bulging stomach who appeared randomly in the photos, usually trying to prop the infant up, or arranging one of the other little boys. I was incensed!  Who was the woman? Why hadn’t I noticed her at the park? And how dare she touch my children?

That’s when it occurred to me that the woman in these pictures was me.



It was an epiphany moment. The body image I had of myself was nothing like what was showing up in these snap shots. Sure, I had just had a baby, but to my mind, my abdomen had definition and my form was still balletic. But these photographs said otherwise, and if I cared to verify it, the mirror would probably back them up!

I was denying the truth before me. My body had changed significantly after birthing four big babies over ten years time. The body I remembered from my wedding day was now 20 years older and many pounds heavier. It was so hard for me to accept that that girl, with that body, was gone and that I was stuck living with this new version.


Oh, I didn’t give up!!  I exercised regularly and counted calories. Every summer I would look at the bathing suits and think maybe if I could just lose a few more pounds, or a couple of inches, the girl with the body I remembered would show up. When that day arrived, I would happily buy  a bathing suit and wear it to the beach to play with my kids. But the years went by and I never bought one, because that girl never showed up.

I was DIS-content to sit on the sidelines, reading and frying. I never got in the water and my youngest child thinks I’m afraid of the water!

I sidelined myself in other ways too. Dressed in my black baggy pants, and oversized shirts, I hid myself away under layers of clothing, excusing myself as too busy, too tired or too uninterested to do anything different with my clothing. The real issue was I didn’t want to try clothes on and come to terms with the body I would see in the glaring three-way mirrors of a department-store dressing room.

But life has a way of bringing us a day of reckoning.  Mine came recently as I was preparing to buy a dress for my first son’s wedding. I just wanted to get it over and avoid really taking stock of my figure (even after a 40-pound weight loss) if at all possible! So I ordered something I thought would fit and look nice over the internet. When it came, not surprisingly, it didn’t fit well at all. The bustline was too high, the waistline too thin, and the overall length too long. In retrospect, it was more of a bag with a few sparkles than a fun frock to wear to my son’s summer wedding.

With the wedding a mere month away, I was desperate.  I finally sought and found the old-fashioned torture device I had been avoiding for years – the measuring tape. After finding a web site to describe how to accurately record measurements, I dutifully took mine and then wrote it all down – every agonizing detail of it. With the actual numbers in front of me, I started looking around for something that would fit and feel comfortable for the wedding. I had to face some facts – I am not a size 8. I am no longer an hourglass shape.  This body has had babies, and has lived a life, and even after a 40-pound weight loss, I am an apple and still a plus size – I have to shop accordingly.


I did eventually find a dress that I think will be fun and appropriate to wear to the wedding. I did go into some actual stores and tried on some dresses, but the dress I bought came from the J.C. Penney website.  It fit like a dream because I told myself the truth.  It’s true that the truth will set you free! Because now I will attend this joyous event in comfort and style, but even more importantly, I won’t be sidelined. And when I see the photos from the wedding – I’ll know the woman in the photos standing with my kids, without question!

Copyright 2015 Elena LaVictoire
All photos courtesy of the author. All rights reserved.


About Author

Elena LaVictoire has been married to her high school sweet heart for over 30 years. They have six children (from 26 to 10) who were all homeschooled. When she's not homeschooling or playing with her 2-year-old granddaughter, she blogs regularly about her issues and events that affect her family at mydomesticchurch.com.


  1. Bravo to you! You are an amazing woman & should be proud of all that you have done (I know-easier said than done!). I think we as woman are so tough on ourselves & we need more women like you to stand up & say I’m done! I repeatedly tell myself that my God loves me as He created me & that’s more than enough (having an extremely supportive husband helps too!). Thx so much for sharing your experience-truly an inspiration!

  2. You know what is the same in all three of your pictures – your big, beautiful smile that radiates.
    I think that we would do a great deal for our daughters if we could just accept the changes that our bodies undergo as we grow older. But alas, I, too, have experienced weight gain and a belly that still looks like I am still pregnant, and I would loved to loose a bit of both. I guess as long as take care of the gift of my body that God has given me, then all is well. Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. This brings tears to my eyes! Tears of joy for you! Tears of hope for me! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. I hope you have a blast at the wedding! God bless!

  4. While I understand the plight of child birth affecting women’s bodies I have hard time understand the excuses for not being in shape. I have had 2 knees rebuilt – 2 shoulders rebuilt, severe plantar fasciitis, back issues – all in response to playing/coaching football and soccer and people today call me the litmus in fitness. It was hard to come back, but I am sorry, dedication and perseverance it the key – with no excuses. Again tell me how having babies prevents you from working out and eating right. I hear this excuse sooooo often and every time I find it to be BS. Truth is unless you have a real medical condition the issue is too much food – not enough working out.

    Quit enabling and start taking responsibility for your body and your eating habits

    • . Again tell me how having babies prevents you from working out and eating right.

      Ya know, the first two times, it wasn’t too bad. In fact, even with four little boys in tow, I managed to make it to Jazzercise class four times a week. But after the fifth child, and an emergency Cesarean section at age 40, it took a while before I had any energy and I would say probably a full year before I felt recovered from the surgery. Add to that the grief of a stillbirth two years later and the death of my mother a couple of years after that, while trying to homeschool and work while my husband’s small business struggled, there wasn’t always a lot of time to concentrate on “me.”

      What amazingly turned the tide for me was giving up all grains after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Not only did that practically cure that condition, but my eczema also disappeared and I lost 40 pounds.

      Today I am walking about 3 1/2 to 4 miles a day while my son is at cross country practice. I’m also gardening more that any time in the last 20 years because my children are older and don’t need my constant supervision. Also, since we only have three at home, I’m finding that I can afford more of the healthier foods that were a little out of my reach when we were a family of eight.

      Nonetheless, I will never have my 20 year old body back. ANd I’ve learned to accept that.

      • again as I stated – if you have a medical condition I understand – depression is included in that as I too lost a child a birth – that being said – all too often I see not just women but men as well – saying they are watching what they eat but if they were – science clearly says a pound is 3500 calories and you expend “X” per day. It really is a math problem in 99% of the cases.

        Granted I have never been through child birth but I have had ACL ruptures and repair taking almost 9 month each to heal – shoulders each 6 months. I have many women friends who can find 45 minutes a day to workout and then it is just a diet thing.

        also I never said a 40 year old should look like a 20 year old BUT even then I have seen may women and men with much better bodies – even after giving birth to 3 children. DON’T listen to the feel good people out there – If you CAN be fit you SHOULD be fit – man or women

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