Today we are featuring the voice of one of our Just.Be.Enough. team members whose role is changing from a regular contributor to a regular guest feature. Stephanie Dulli is a “Target shopping baby-wearer. Decorator without a home.” But also beyond being ALL CAPS awesome, she is “an actress, comedian, and writer who wears too much mascara.” Mom to two boys, married to a fabulous man, Stephanie is a contributor to iVillage and was the director for the DC Listen to Your Mother show. Stephanie blogs at Belle Reve. I am proud and honored to have Stephanie as a friend and we are thrilled that she is here to share her story.
Once upon a time I was young and thin and people did crazy things like hire me as a model. I know, right?
This was taken by a brilliant British photographer named Simon Thorpe. You may not know the name but you know his work…if you’ve seen Harry Potter, that is. He is the artist who created all the moving and talking portraits in Hogwarts. Cool, huh?
Anyway, my point is this: there I am – young, thin, receiving constant validation as to my attractiveness from outside sources and yet I was riddled with insecurities. Riddled is putting it mildly, actually. I hated my body, feeling that every lump and bump was a failure of self control and even worse a failure of self worth.
I struggled with an eating disorder for many years. Too many years really. I fought my way to health and met and married a wonderful man and suddenly I wanted children. Would my much abused body even be able to carry a child? How would growing larger affect me? Would it bring up old wounds?
I did grow large. I was, in a word, enormous. By my 4th month people were saying “any day now!” and during the 6th month people were nearly willing to brawl with me over whether or now I was gestating twins, at least. Nope. Just one baby. “NO, that has to be twins! I bet you’ll be surprised in the delivery room. You are HUGE!” I assured them again that it was only one boy and then waddled home to have a good cry. What mom to be doesn’t love being told she is roughly the size of a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float?
But something funny was happening every time someone made an unsolicited and, let’s face it, rude comment. I was getting angry but for the first time the anger wasn’t directed inward. My lumps, my bumps (you’re singing Black Eyed Peas Lady Humps now, aren’t you? Knock it off!) were not a failure of self worth or self control – I was growing large to protect and feed someone small, someone kicking and flipping in my belly. I was in awe that my body could do this – that while I slept or lay on the couch resembling Jabba the Hut an entire nervous system was built within the confines of my belly. Wow.
When I held my new baby in my arms, my belly was still large but now empty and I felt beautiful. Healed even. Our bodies are amazing.
My body is amazing and if you ask me which Stephanie looks better – past Stephanie or now Stephanie – I’d have to say now. Oh sure, my belly button resembles a stretched out balloon and my triceps have turned to wings but I am comfortable in my own skin. It is a much happier and much prettier place to be.