I have managed to lose all track of time. I kept thinking it was the 17th for the past several days, and, lo, it is nearly the 22nd. I leave for a week on vacation on the evening of the 23rd and have been working fairly steadily on a post I hope to make between now and then. It’s long with lots of citations from different articles and a book. I like where it’s going; still lots left to do on it. Between that article and prepping for a last-minute getaway, I’ve been a smidge preoccupied.
Last weekend, I went to a function in my community and was wearing a form-fitting tank top and some fancy festival-type pants that look like a skirt. I felt pretty awesome about how I looked. I was there with my younger son, and while he was busy eating some pineapple, a woman I didn’t know came up to me and introduced herself, asking where I lived and how long I’d been there. Then she took a focused, concerted look at my belly and asked, “Are you —”
I say with an I’m-going-to-attempt-to-brush-this-off sort of laugh, “No. I’m not pregnant. I’m all done having kids. That’s my youngest there; he just turned 3.”
Meanwhile, in my head, I’m repeatedly punching her in the face, calling her all manner of unprintable expletives. And then marvelling at WHY it’s SUCH a TERRIBLE thing to look like I’m pregnant when I’m not…
Is it because society
a) hates women’s bodies,
b) hates mothers, or
c) hates children
If you answered d) All of the Above, you get a cookie.
Why am I not allowed to be at peace with my body and how it looks?
Why do people need to ask if a woman is pregnant, as if it’s any of their business?
Why do people need to come to my rescue and assure me that I don’t look pregnant?
Why is looking pregnant when I’m not such a terrible thing in the first place? And yes, I just asked that a few lines up, but it bears repeating.
Furthermore, and this is unfortunately the easiest to answer, why do beans bloat the human body? Because every time I have even the smallest bit of legume, I look like I’m 4-6 months pregnant. You can argue with me on that matter all you want, but having been that pregnant twice in my life, rest assured, I do know what I look like. I’m just annoyed that it’s supposed to be avoided at all costs.
I love this article. I used to do so many of these things and I found that I just don’t anymore. Having taken on the strident belief that every single person on this planet is beautiful when they let their soul shine outwards, it no longer matters what we actually look like. Yes, I can be attracted to certain combinations of features, but that has no bearing on whether I think someone is less beautiful or more beautiful. And what does my opinion about another person’s appearance matter? Because really, it doesn’t.
It doesn’t matter.
What I think about how you look doesn’t matter. I’m far more concerned with how I feel when I’m around you.
With regard to the article, I will take issue with #5. I don’t mind being pear-shaped. Have you ever bitten into a pear? A ripe, juice-running-down-your-chin pear that is so utterly delectable that you just can’t find the words and can only make sounds of satiated pleasure? Yeah, that’s me. That’s my awesome body. I don’t mind being compared to food. Bite me. If I like it, I’ll bite back.
I also hereby move to change the adjective “apple-shaped” to “peach-shaped” because biting into a ripe peach on a hot summer’s day, bursting with flavour, the soft fuzzy skin tickling your lips, providing a curious friction for your tongue… proves absolutely unparalleled. I admit I like apples as a fruit better than I do peaches, but peaches are so much more undeniably poetic and women’s bodies are too lusciously inspiring not to be creative with positive analogies.
Besides, when do you ever see canned apples and pears? No. It’s always peaches and pears together, flavours mingling and bolstering each other. Much better than tearing each other down, yes? YES.
Speaking of pear-shaped, #8. I was told for most of my post-pubescent life that I had ‘childbearing hips’. Wanna know something? That gave me a hell of a lot more confidence about the idea that I could successfully birth babies on my own. And I did. Twice. This is tricky though because I don’t want to make anyone feel bad for having a different birth experience. I’m just saying that I felt like being told I was made to do this thing I wanted to do made it easier for me to do it. Yes, it’s problematic as hell because not every woman wants to have kids. Not every woman who wants to is able to. Telling us that having certain features will make it easier to do a thing backfires on other women who don’t have that same feature who also want to do that thing. I have no idea how many women feel like they can’t birth a baby. The self-doubt is horrific. And I’m going to stop there because I have FAR TOO MUCH to say on the injustices surrounding pregnant people, labour and birth, postpartum, breastfeeding, etc. There are so many ways we shame bodies. Post pregnant bodies that retain evidence of having been pregnant get a hell of a lot of shame thrown at them.
For anyone interested, “A Beautiful Body” Book Project is up on Kickstarter, if you would like to back it. The video is NSFW because of nudity, but it’s just gorgeous. I see those bodies and I think, ‘hey, I look like that! And she’s pretty! And if I look like that and she’s pretty then I might just be pretty too.’ I like my hips/ass combo, in case that wasn’t evident already. I am still working through a lot of self-acceptance issues about my belly.
The US and Canada need to see more postpartum bellies positively represented in the media. I have no idea what the rest of the world’s general attitude is on the matter, but I am painfully familiar with how it’s handled here.
We get so hung up on how we look when how we feel about ourselves is far more important. When we’re able to look at ourselves in the mirror and say, “Fuck, I’m gorgeous!” and really mean it, and be able to say that, honestly and truly, even on the days we’re unshorn and wearing sweatpants, because we know we’re awesome people through and through, then then we will have arrived. We will have become more ourselves, relaxing into the beauty of who we genuinely are.
Go be your beautiful self. Help others to see how beautiful they are. Find ways to feel good.