Thursday, April 23, 2009

This rant brought to you by the letters, D and B.

I'm so very glad that I've been taking this photographic record each month of my growing belly. I know a lot of larger women don't.

And why don't they?

Because, like in so many other instances, they're made to feel like their wonderful baby bumps are not beautiful enough to share...unless they look like those adorable and oh so perky ones we see in magazines. But I'm betting those bellies we see in magazines, they're following as many rules about what's "acceptable" as non-pregnant tummies/bodies do.

So many women on one of the PLUS SIZE pregnancy boards I belong to express shame about having B bump instead of a the more socially acceptable D shaped. Yeah, you read that right: SHAME! About the amazing vessel their beautiful new child is growing within. They won't even post clothed photos in a space that is reserved solely for the use of other plus size mums.

I've studied ads, both print and other media and not just still media either, ever since I first started trying to get pregnant. Every where a baby bump turned up, I carefully took note of size, shape, position relative to how high or low the baby was situated, belly button inny or outy, etc etc. Naturally, I also compared "plus size" shots with "regular size" shots.

Wanna know what I've been seeing? There seems to be only two kinds of pregnant belly out there in Ad Land.
: 4-5 months for that oh so teeny cute, "look, I'm just pregnant." You know the one, gently rounded so that the barest hint of midriff shows in between the artfully gaping shirt and waistband.
: and the 6-8 month pregnant belly. The much more obviously pregnant stomach. But certainly nowhere near the OMG she's gonna blow! look you get on towards the 9th-10th month.

Most appear to be singleton pregnancies. None have stretch marks or a even the thinnest linea nigra down the belly. None have obviously visible veins through the tightly stretched skin. Most seem to ride comfortably low. No beach balls protruding straight out from the boobies, thank you very much. Must be able to distinguish some form of upper abdomen before getting to the separate and all enticing breastal region.

And of course the breasts must also still be within the tasteful range. Able to be supported, at least for the photography session, by a pretty maternity bra. That's a dead giveaway about just how plus the plus-sizes are too. Once you get beyond DD cups in maternity/nursing bras? We're in Tricolour land. Black, white or neutral bras that could out starch any hospital matron's bowline as she sails serenely along the wards. We're talking serious hydraulic lift here people. And that doesn't come in any form of pretty. Serviceable is more the term I'd use. Or better yet, utilitarian!

If I hadn't been taking regular photos of my belly, I truly wouldn't have realised just how much my belly is changing and growing. Yes, I still have my B belly shape, (probably always will, it's the same shape as my mum's and her sisters' with the added bonus of the same fatty lumps my dad has,) but it is indeed altered from before I got pregnant. Not only with how far it protrudes out, but with how the slopes and shapes of each bump change. Looking at this photo merge, I can no longer honestly say I haven't really changed all that much. Yet, without it, I'd have no clue how pregnant I actually look; even in this non-maternity outfit I'm wearing for these shots.

I'll be forever grateful that I did so much body image work before I got pregnant. I've only had a few moments where I've felt uncomfortable or OMG I'm HUGE since getting pregnant. It leaves a stunningly awful taste in my mouth to realise I could have been one of those ones loathing my growing belly for not being "right".

It's not just the plus size girls feeling shame and loathing, so many thinner women also feel loathing, even if they do have the supposedly "perfect" pregnancy bod from what I can see. And for that, I again blame the media. Pregnancy used to be a time that was sacred. Any of the cattiness usually reserved for famous women and their outfits or weight was toned down out of respect for the status as a mother. Nowadays we have "Supermums"who look to me like they're a good candidates for cheeseburger or two, and could definitely skip a workout or twenty, and I wonder how they're affecting their foetus by under eating and over working out

Oh and then! Then if the women dare to get that soft, curved look you get when pregnant, (hello! all the excess blood, fluids and fat the body requires for you to be safely pregnant occur naturally, yes even in the tops of your arms and under your chin.) they're accused of eating 50 cheeseburgers at a meal. Gimme a break!

You know what? Pregnancy requires cushioning. There's a natural, scientific reason some women gain 60 plus pounds. (Other than feeling like a kid being let loose in a candy store and for the first time actually being given permission to eat all you want. Or other hormonal/medical reasons.) I'm betting those women have been dieting for decades and most probably are always "underweight" for their height. So, you not only are going to get the natural amount of pregnancy gain, but you're also going to get diet rebound on top of that.

So is it any wonder when famous, stunningly beautiful people still can't get it "right", and the only women who can are models that are primped, preened and photoshopped into that plastic look we've all come to know and love. Where does that leave the rest of us?

I can't even go look at Shape Of A Mother anymore, because my heart breaks for all those women who loathe their bodies during pregnancy and after childbirth, and for the ones who won't ever post their photo there because of how deep the self loathing goes or the belief that they don't deserve to be up there.

It literally has me sobbing each time that these women who have achieved something so wonderful, (something that many other women would kill for the opportunity to have those kinds of stretch marks and saggy baggy skin) cannot see the beauty in themselves. And then, the ones who can see their beauty? Well, I cry over them too. For sheer joy. So yeah, shape of a mother, not such a good place for me at the moment.

What IS a good place though right now, is the kitchen. I'm ready for dindins. Catch yas later. Mmm, spaghetti bolognese.

4 Nibbles:

sharnee said...

Hi, I read your blog but I've never commented before. As a plus sized girl (um, or am I a "woman" now?) I know exactly what you mean here! I had twins and thanks to a horribly low GI diet, I only put on 3kg during my pregnancy (I didn't really look like I was having two even though I'm not exactly a small girl in any stretch of the imagination). But yes... our body grows our child/ren so there was no way I was feeling bad about how it looked. Of course I didn't like it when I started to stretch horizontally but nevermind... I do feel sorry for those who try and fight the stretch marks - and then get upset when they inevitably occur. Anyway, I'll stop my rambling. I just wanted to say I liked yr post

Lisa R said...

Your bump is beautiful. Very well written post expressing something I'd never thought about. . . but you're right - pregnancy is portrayed in a very odd way in the media. . .

Your body is amazing - you're growing a little being that's half you and half Alaska boy. Imagine! Enjoy this time and please, be proud of your bump - it is beautiful and life giving! ;-)

Thanks for sharing your insight!

Shauna said...

Wow... beautifully said Ms Kada :)

cmae said...

Thanks so much for this. I'm convinced that most of the models for pregnancy sites and magazines are actually just regular models with fake baby bumps. I've never met anyone who looks like that during pregnancy, not even a skinny person!! And you're right - I would do absolutely anything to have stretch marks and saggy baggy skin if it meant I had a son or daughter.

Thank you for the sweet birthday wishes!