Here’s my revelation about pregnancy and your body image: it’s the same as when you’re not pregnant. If you obsess over your weight when you’re not pregnant, you’re probably going to do the same thing when you’re up the duff. You will obsess. You may just not care enough to curb your eating, and of course you’re encouraged to eat, which for most of us is a revelation unto itself and the most delicious feeling in the world!
After 15 years of dieting, I’ve used pregnancy as an excuse to finally eat whatever I want. My attitude to food can pretty much be summed up by “Bring It On.’ As a result I’m chubby, not just pregnant. I think it was pretty willful. At only 6 weeks along, I had a little memorial service for my skinny clothes, folded them lovingly in sachets, embraced jersey and Lycra, and have never looked back. I thought I’d glow. I thought all the Lycra would look Rachel Pally, not Roseanne. What I didn’t know was how feeling out of control about my body would make me feel in other aspects of my life. This is not about the physical changes that the site Shape of a Mother so beautifully illustrates. This is about being someone who you're not, or at least who you don't want to be.
Today I saw Dooce’s bump on her blog,
and felt so full of jealousy I had to write about it. I know, as a
woman blogger, the cardinal rule is never to compare yourself to Dooce
and the thought never crossed my mind before. But she’s so thin! And
today, at 36 weeks, I just crossed the 50 lbs gained mark, and I’m so
mad at myself.
It turns out, for me, being disciplined about my weight helps keep me focused, and that has vanished in pregnancy. The work it takes to fit in my “target” pair of J. Brands actually makes me feel professional, accomplished, more willing to take on the world. The unexpected side effect of pregnancy has been my growing (now complete) apathy towards my physical appearance, which affects other aspects of my life. And I'm sorry, it's not enough to say, "you're growing another human being." The more bloated and huge I feel, the less attention I pay to dress, makeup, hair, nails and general put togetherness. It even makes me less willing to leave the house sometimes. All things girly and chic completely repel me, because I feel left out now. It’s like, I wasn’t invited to the party, so why should I bother looking nice for it? As a result I feel as if I have been neutered the past few months. At the height of my supposed womanliness, I’m a shlep in spandex.
I am the Mama wrote, I “am one of those weird women who revels in the roundness of my body while pregnant. Since I’m pretty round anyway, I feel like it’s the only time I look the way I should.” Bless you, Mama, and keep talking about this! It doesn't work for me. I spent some time reading "body positive" blogs but my thinking is parochial around this issue. I miss hard angles.
Like so much else of the bs literature around pregnancy, body image messages are mixed and annoying. I decided to Google “pregnancy and body image” and dissect the most popular responses. Here are some typical gems:
Exercise during pregnancy can help improve your body image and help you feel better about your changing shape.
No, I don’t feel like it. Socks pinch.
Most women's breasts grow and expand in addition to their bellies. Enjoy this newfound fertility symptom and revel in your womanly shape.
How can I revel when they are constantly in my way?
Most women give off a unique glow during pregnancy. This is the one time in life people will remark on your beauty regardless of how much effort you put into your appearance.
Frankly, for every remark about my “beauty” I’ve had two commenting on my size.
I'd love to hear about your struggles and triumphs with your body image when you were pregnant!