Being a new mum was one of the happiest times of my life, but how I felt about my body really sucked.
It was so strange. I don't think I had postpartum depression or anything like that. I was super happy with Luca. But I felt like my only purpose was just to be his mum and be able to feed him.
I also held onto all the "baby weight" for a long time. I wasn't one of those women who just could nurse and lose the weight. Some people bounce back and don't have to deal with that, and that's wonderful for them. But for me, it was so hard to connect with my body again once I had a baby.
I remember after my son was born, I finally decided to leave the house—like 16 days or something after I had him. I was just going out to get something for my breast pump. I was wearing sweatpants. But someone was following me and got a picture. And all of a sudden there were all these stories titled "Hilary Debuts Post-Baby Body." And I remember thinking, I'm not debuting anything! That pressure was so tough to deal with.
It wasn't until my mind adjusted to not caring as much that I started to figure it all out. I realised that I am never going to be the same again, and that's okay. I've learned to be proud of what my body does for me, and what it did while I was pregnant with my son.
My body helped create a bond between us, and me being there for him in those first months of his life ultimately was far more important than me trying to get in shape right away. And that mental shift helped all the other stuff eventually fall into place.
Now, I'm happy to say that I have a pretty healthy relationship with my body. Of course, I'm 5'2", so any kind of weight that I gain, I see it right away. And sure, I want to look good in my jeans, and I want to feel and look good. But I don't need to be a super-skinny person. I'm normal, and I have a good relationship with food and indulging myself while being healthy and giving my body what it needs.
It's hard for women every day, no matter what, to love their bodies. There's pressures just from your friends and how they look, and trying to keep up.
It's terrible that skinny is beautiful. There's a new version of skinny that's just...unreachable. It's a really bad look. If we can just try to celebrate being individuals, and try to feel good instead of trying to fit in, I think that would be huge.
For me, celebrating myself means taking time for myself. I love to take baths, and go out with my girlfriends, and treat myself to something that I've lusted after for a while.
I have been trying to take more time to set my intention for the day and take a few deep breaths in the morning. It's helped me be a more patient and understanding person not only with others but with myself, too. To be kinder to myself.
The other day, my son wanted toast and bacon for breakfast. And I was making the toast and bacon and trying to get him to finish his homework, and packing up his lunch for school, AND get him out the door, and just burning everything. I was so frustrated, and I said "GAH, I SUCK!" out loud.
And my son just looked up from his homework and said, "You don't suck!" He was so flustered that I said that. "You do the best you can do! You do so good. And I like burned toast!"
It was so sweet. And it's true, we're all too hard on ourselves about everything. It's important sometimes—whether it's in front of the mirror, or trying to get breakfast on the table—to just take a step back and chill for a minute. It helps put a lot of things into perspective.
Editor's note: This is from an interview with Hilary Duff conducted during an event promoting Claritin's "20 Minutes of Spring" project.
As told to Jessie Van Amburg. This article originally appeared on Women’s Health.