A few weeks ago I wrote a little ditty about body image during pregnancy. I told you about the skinny voices I’ve heard all my life (the voices coming from magazines and television and the way people around me talk about weight that made me feel like being and/or staying skinny was somehow crucial to my happiness), I rejoiced at their disappearance during my pregnancy, and I silently hoped they wouldn’t return to plague me once Pickles had been born. My post was even picked up by Eat the Damn Cake, a lovely website about self-esteem and body image written by the same writer behind homeschooling blog Skipping School that I have been reading for the past several months.
Now, writing this at a little over two weeks postpartum, I’m taking stock. I have a 20-centimeter-long scar just above my pubes that I was afraid to look at for days after the birth. I’m still afraid to touch it, and when I finally brought myself to place my hand between it and my navel, I found the skin there strangely numb—a side effect of the epidural perhaps? But as my uncle said: “Sorry they had to bring the knife in, but then again who doesn’t want a new cool scar!?” (He has a point there. Scars make you seem more dangerous and mean. Too bad any opponent I will ever have to face in a back-alley knife fight won’t be able to see mine.) I’ve already lost 22 of the 33 pounds I gained during my pregnancy, but my belly sags slightly over the scar. And have the skinny voices returned? No. (No!) No, they haven’t. Now there’s something worth celebrating.
But it got me thinking. Why is it that pregnant ladies rejoice in their bellies when baby is inside, but hide them away once baby is out? In hiding those bellies we’re doing ourselves a disservice. We should be celebrating our baby houses just as much postpartum as we did prepartum. Because if we did that, then Hollywood wouldn’t have a monopoly on what Most Folks know about postpartum bodies.
Ever watch Lost? Notice how the blond chick was insta-thin after giving birth to her little boy? Yeah, that pissed me off. Ever watch My Name is Earl? Notice how Joy was insta-thin after giving birth (in about three minutes, ha!) in her kitchen? Yeah, that pissed me off some more. Because if most of the western world only sees pregnancy through the eyes of film and television makers, then most of the western world is going to expect that real, live pregnant ladies get insta-thin immediately after giving birth. Which creates a lot of pressure on postpartum ladies. And the last thing anyone needs is more pressure to look a certain way, especially a woman recovering from birth. Every pregnant woman starts at a different weight, gains a different amount of poundage, and loses it (or doesn’t) at a different rate. But no postpartum woman looks like she did before her pregnancy directly after the birth. And the implication that that is even possible is poison.
So in celebration of postpartum bellies, I thought I’d share a picture mine, with a nice scar close-up for good measure.
I had good luck; I didn’t get any stretch marks. I didn’t smear any magical creams on my belly during my pregnancy; I just had the good luck to not gain more weight than the elasticity of my skin could sustain. (Though I was pretty surprised, when I was 13 or 14 a growth spurt covered my thighs with them, so I thought I was pre-disposed.) But why do I even consider that good luck? Why is the world so down on stretch marks (and bellies!) anyway? Once upon a time a hippy boy I knew saw the stretch marks on my legs, apparently the first he had ever seen, and asked, “Hey what are those? They are beautiful. They look like roots.” I think he had the right idea, and so far I’m loving the curves pregnancy has given me too, not to mention the beautiful baby.
Filed under: conspiracies,gorilla parent (pregnancy),gorilla parent (year one)
18 Comments so far. Please leave a comment.
Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>