• Carly Rae

Love Thy Body

Updated: Sep 10, 2019

When my good friend Jess expressed a need for a player on her netball team not long after I had given birth to my second daughter, I accepted the offer. I was excited to get fit again and meet new friends. Jess is a true Australian who loves the sun, playing sports and a bit of healthy competition. She is tiny in stature but so toned that she doesn't have an ounce of fat on her whole body. She is a natural beauty, who at the age of 35 has never worn makeup or used a hair-straightener. She grew up in a big family with many big brothers, so there was always a game on the television and smelly running shoes by the door. She is always involved in some type of team or workout regime. I, on the other hand, had just recently had a baby and had never played netball in my life.

When I hopped into Jess's car to go to my first game, I was completely taken aback by the uniform she was wearing. Even on her petite figure, it looked hideous. I wondered what skin-tight lycra was going to look like on me! Suddenly I visualised all my lumps, bumps, cellulite and jiggly thighs on display. At that point, I was thinking that Australians had to be out of their minds. What kind of sport forces women of all shapes and sizes to partake in a game wearing a very short dress? My mind was racing, my heart was pounding. No woman over thirty, who had just had a baby should be REQUIRED to wear lycra! Jess sensed my anxiety and casually pointed out that she forgot to mention the outfit. She finished off by saying, “Only 17-year-old girls could possibly look good in this uniform!"

After having my second child the weight did not come off easily. It was heartbreaking at times to look at my new, post-pregnancy form in the mirror. I can totally understand that this change is difficult for many women, especially when you are hitting Sydney beaches in the Summer four weeks after giving birth! Being surrounded by almost-perfect, young, bikini bodies is devastating at first. It takes great will power to resist the urge to hit your husband when he complains about an extra couple of kilos he put on over the Christmas holidays eating snacks and drinking beer. Try watching yourself gain 30kg in 9 months and then squeeze into a uniform that looks like a bathing suit with built-in underwear not long after!

When Jess and I walked onto the court she asked me how I was feeling.

"Fine," I calmly replied even though my stress levels elevated as I looked at hundreds of women of various ages, all looking equally unattractive. Once the whistle blew, however, there was no time to be self-conscious about how I looked. I'd been pretty good at basketball when I was younger, but the only thing it had in common with netball was that there was a ball involved. The highlight of my performance was when we had a break after the first quarter and the girls asked me why I was so far away from the players I was guarding.

"I was told to stay three feet away," I said.

"No," laughed Jess. "You only stay three feet away from the person holding the ball!"

Despite my teething problems and not knowing any of the rules, the girls were so supportive and encouraging, calling me the "Canadian Basketballer". Once I started catching on, I really enjoyed the friendly banter and team unity. At the game's end, I was delighted to be asked to fill in again. I happily accepted. Without even realizing it, the issue of what I had to wear had suddenly vanished without a trace.

Time has passed and I still haven't learned to play netball properly. I have, however, played on a volleyball team and I continue to do regular workouts at the gym to keep in shape. I am not implying that I am totally happy with my body, but I think as women we must be realistic and not be too hard on ourselves. We should look at our caesarean scar or stretch marks and feel empowered by what our body has created. Our breasts have changed because we fed and nourished our little baby for months. That is amazing when you think about it! I am heavier, bumpier and saggier now, but I am more confident with my body than I have ever been in my life. Sure, my body changed after having my three children, but it has changed due to a massive accomplishment. My advice is to love thy body and accept all the imperfections.

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