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Full Body.

The scar on my lower abdomen is close to healed, after six weeks of careful care.  The incision is evidence of the arrival of my son, the same place my daughter escaped from.  The skin above the incision is still swollen from months of pregnancy and oddly puckered due to surgery.  It’s not a flat, perfectly sculpted specimen of an abdomen.

But I try hard not to care.  My kids were created here.

The marks on my fingertips move every few days as I use a lancet to draw blood every few hours.  Sometimes the dots left behind look like I stuck my finger into a jar of ground pepper, other times they are light brown marks that appear to live deep beneath the surface of my skin.  But they represent moments when I needed to check my blood sugar and actually followed through on gathering that data.

When I look at them, I see evidence of me taking good care of myself.

The scaly patches of skin on my outer thighs are itchy and refuse to respond to lovely lotions and dermatologist intervention.  They are left behind by continuous glucose monitor sensors that I wear to keep tabs on my blood sugars throughout the day and night.  These skin issues are not comfortable or enviable, but the protection provided by streaming my glucose data helps me to sleep better.

My health is worth the inconvenient itch.

And, of course, there’s the shifting of my body, shaped by time and illness and exercise and pregnancies.  Baby weight.  Aging, even when I don’t remember to.  My leg muscles are softer, but eager to be used again.  My eyes have improved during this pregnancy, somehow.  My blood pressure is carefully watched.  My stomach is paunchier than it was 10 months ago.  I weigh myself to see what’s happened over the last six weeks and try not to get too excited or sad at the result.

But the number on the scale doesn’t define me.  Neither does the number on my meter.  Neither does my age.

… right?

I look at my body sometimes and feel a little embarrassed or ashamed because I don’t physically conform to what magazine pages and commercials suggest I should look like.  I’m not tall and willowy with shiny hair and slender arms.  And I admittedly care about the size of the pants or the cut of the dress.  It’s been harder than normal lately because I’m trying to recognize this new person in the mirror, the one who has carried two children and thirty years of chronic illness under her skin, never mind life’s normal wear and tear.

I’ve lived with body image issues that haven’t caused chaos but have given me pause from time to time.  Diabetes has forced me to see my body through a specific lens, not always rose-colored.  Sometimes diabetes makes me feel like I’m broken, unable to make insulin and struggling to create a child.  It’s weird to look in the mirror and see someone who doesn’t look sick but who has felt unwell physically many times, and who requires effort to stay emotionally well.

Other times, the diabetes lens makes me feel as if I have superpowers … like, shouldn’t I be dead because I don’t make insulin?  Every mile I’ve run or weight I’ve lifted stands in contrast to my unmotivated pancreas.  How has my body managed to stop producing a life-sustaining hormone and yet I’m still here?  Can’t I fly, too?  And melt steel doors with my eyeball lasers?

I have to remind myself that there are marks and imperfections on this body that I’ve fucking earned.  There are a lot of scars.  Some visible, others harder to see, but all of them, earned or self-imposed, have contributed to creating me.  This body is recovering from, responding to, reinventing itself in life, and that’s the image of my body I’m holding tightly to.

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. You are beautiful.

    10/4/16; 3:30 pm
  2. Just Jenny #

    I look at you and I see a hero. I see a warm and wonderful person who is engaging and kind, with a radiant smile and a wicked sense of humor. I see someone who has brought me so much peace and reassurance as we travel the road of diabetes with my daughter. You are a beautiful human being. I am grateful for you.

    10/4/16; 9:05 pm
  3. I think you are a very beautiful woman,
    with a great figure!!

    Shirley Alderman ( Ohio )

    10/4/16; 11:36 pm
  4. Gah! There’s far too much (at first I typed fart and had to giggle) inner criticism happening in front of mirrors with my lady friends! You’re gorgeous and huggable and kind and funny and superb at sharing stuff other people keep locked away.

    I don’t know what it takes to make that better. For you. For me. For everyone else who looks in the mirror and says, “Who the eff are YOU?”

    You look good on you.

    10/4/16; 11:55 pm
  5. 🙂

    10/4/16; 11:58 pm
  6. Oh my god this resonates with me so much. I try my hardest to tuck away feelings of negative body image but I have to admit, I often yearn for my younger body despite loving my child immeasurably. Great post Kerri xoxo

    10/5/16; 3:30 am
  7. Kathleen #

    I feel the same way and I haven’t given birth to 2 beautiful pieces of perfection. Stand proud. You are beautiful inside and out!

    10/5/16; 6:43 am
  8. Deb #

    The last paragraph says it all for me….thank you.

    10/5/16; 7:20 am
  9. My view-insulin and Jesus have striking similarities for type 1’s by design.

    10/5/16; 10:20 am
  10. Daisy #

    I can tell that you’ve never been truly obese. Has a doctor or medical professional ever called you fat or told you to try harder to lose weight? I don’t think so. I bet that they listen to your problems and give you real solutions as opposed to telling you to lose weight.
    I hate when skinny people like you claim to have negative body image. I don’t think that you have any concept of what it’s like to be fat or to be treated poorly because of your weight. I wish that you could put on a fat suit and go on a job interview or to the doctor and then talk about your experiences. It’d be a real eye opener for you.

    10/7/16; 11:29 am
    • Andy #

      Or you could be accountable for your actions daisy. If your heavy it’s by choice or your bad choices. Leave Kerri alone. She’s entitled to write how she sees it, it is her blog after all. If your not happy with your body size only you can fix it. Having Kerri where a fat suit won’t help.

      10/7/16; 1:12 pm
      • I appreciate the support, Andy, but I can’t sign on to shaming someone for their “bad choices.” Let’s build each other up whenever we can. 🙂

        10/11/16; 9:56 am
    • It’s all relative, Daisy. We can only base our emotions and genuine feelings on what we have personally experienced. Kerri has every right to feel frustration about her own body just as much as you do. We’re each in our own skin and that’s the only experience we know.

      It would be like saying I shouldn’t ever stress about money or finances or our family budget just because I’ve never been completely broke or homeless. It’s all relative.

      10/8/16; 7:22 pm
    • Hey Daisy. Sometimes I want to ask people to put on a “c-section suit” to understand what it’s like to adjust to the aftermath of surgery (or simply stick on an insulin pump to get a feel for what it’s like to wear diabetes devices), so I think we have common ground here. Body image issues aren’t limited to perceptions of how we wear our weight.

      10/11/16; 9:52 am
  11. “But I try hard not to care. My kids were created here.” —> Ditto, baby! Ditto! The little post-baby pooch (even two years later) is a daily reminder of how awesome my body is, and a daily thought of, “Hmm, I’d like to get rid of this…”

    Kisses to your little birds and the superhero mamas.

    10/8/16; 7:20 pm
  12. Kathy #

    Thank you for taking the time, your valuable time, to write such a thoughtful piece.
    I wish the best for you and your lovely family.

    10/8/16; 9:25 pm

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