Twice in the last month, I’ve been asked when I’m due. So twice I’ve had to say “I’m not pregnant, this is just how I look.” And then actively be benevolent when comforting the person who asked me, who is (very justifiably) mortified. It’s exhausting, because there’s a hangover you get after this sort of thing, when you are deeply mortified, but to move past it you must just be ok with it, and forget it as quickly as possible. The hangover lasts for days.
I’ve got a really round belly. It’s from gestating three children (two at once, I don’t mind reminding everyone), and from the ensuing parenting of them, which leaves me very little Me Time. I’m also an Indoor Kid. I’d rather read than do almost anything, so my relaxation time is usually reading. But, I actually don’t need to justify my outline. No one does. But we don’t like for women to be fat without a good reason. Pregnancy is an acceptable reason to be fat.
In order to be comfortable with people who wear plus sizes, we automatically, unconsciously, try to rationalize it for them. I mean, we don’t do this to men, of course, because we aren’t trained to expect men to have to wear makeup and high heels to be pretty, and therefore, acceptable. We do this to women. How demeaning. How little do we respect women that we hastily come up with reasons for fatness and then try to get them to corroborate our assumption? People don’t realize that’s what they’re doing, but it is.
I like my body. It holds all my parts together, and it does things that I like to do (like, holding up a book, so I can read it). It hasn’t always been fat, and it may not be fat forever, but for right now, it is. My body also isn’t me me. I forget about it a lot of the time, actually, because it’s not doing the thinking, and the part that does the thinking is so splendidly uninterested in body shape because it doesn’t matter.
I’m pretty healthy. I eat well, I go to spin twice a week. I’m fat anyway.
Now, I’ve noticed that people don’t ask me if I’m pregnant if I’m wearing something that is loose and tenty. But we’ve gotten to a really weird place, socially, where we demand to see pregnant bellies clearly, but no other kind of round belly. You have to show your pregnant belly off, so people can celebrate your pregnancy, whether they know you or not. You owe society that. Society owns pregnant bellies.
So of course it’s confusing if you masquarade your regular round belly as a pregnancy belly. What were you thinking! It’s downright unfair to people who just would like to be able to justify why you look the way you do, and move on with their lives.
Anyway, here’s me in a swimsuit:
On the day that photo was taken, we were on vacation in Canada. I had put this swimsuit on for the first time, and Henry was really taken with it. He told me he loved my suit, and that I was beautiful. He asked if he could take my picture. My 6-year-old son liked how I looked so much, he wanted me to have a photo of me, so I could be as happy as he was. And it fucking worked. I love this photo, because I see it from his perspective and I can remember how pleased he was.
If you take one thing away from this, it should be these three things:
- Don’t rationalize anyone’s shape for them.
- Try to remember other people’s bodies aren’t your business.
- Remind yourself that people utterly adore you because of the thinking part of you, as well as the body part of you. You’re the total package.