I Think I’m Doing Anti-Body-Shaming Wrong

Jun 13 2015

Greg doesn’t like it when I tell him I can feel the baby kicking, and he totally refuses to put his hand on my belly so he can feel it, too.

We sit on the sticky couch late at night or we lay in bed with the kids’ cereal crumbs and cracker shrapnel, and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the way these things usually happen, I feel the baby kicking, so I interrupt his show or his book or his game of phone solitaire, and I ask if he wants to feel the baby, too, but no. He never does. Not ever.

Greg also refuses to call it “the baby” just because it’s actually gas, but I don’t think that’s a very good reason not to participate in the joy, do you?

Greg hurts my feelings a lot. We can all pray for him.

I went clothes shopping last night, which, as my girlfriends can tell you, I detest and avoid at every possible turn. I think my Love of Shopping is hanging out on a tropical beach somewhere with my Dignity and my Sense of Decorum, part of a witness protection program because I’m a ongoing danger to them and the only way to survive is to never return.

I went clothes shopping last night, though, because I love my job and I think I might get fired if I show up naked. I’ve been running out of clothes for quite some time, and I hit critical mass (or critical lack of mass) this week, so it was time to buck up and get ‘er done.

I was like a child facing standardized testing or Saturday chores or bedtime, all whiny and reluctant, sighing and dragging my feet, and saying a lot of Do I Have To’s and Please Don’t Make Me’s. I went anyway, though, because I am a grown-up, and I can overcome.

This time I went shopping, though, I had a little more fun than usual.

You guys. You guys! Did you know they have full length mirrors in dressing rooms these days?

It’s TRUE. They DO.

They never send me a full length mirror when I order my clothes online — probably because they know I can’t use one responsibly — but, apparently, when you go to a store, they let you into a private room with ALL THE MIRRORS no matter who you are. No Responsibility Test or anything. And then you can do whatever you want in front of those things! WHATEVER YOU WANT.

IMG_4212As for me, I tried on clothes and took baby selfies. After all, today’s modern woman does not want to buy clothes in which the baby doesn’t look good.

Yes, I had to work at it to get my belly to really pop, you know? And, yes, I had to angle the camera correctly to make sure the bulge was as bulgy as possible. But I think we can agree it was worth it, yes? Because how ELSE will I commemorate this season of life — the season when I don’t have a technical baby in my belly but I do have both gas and the surplus belly material to make a really great fake baby. I mean, they always say, FOCUS ON WHAT YOU HAVE and DON’T FOCUS ON WHAT YOU DO NOT HAVE, and I’ve decided to take that advice to heart.

I showed my baby belly selfies to a friend today, and I don’t want to be critical of her or anything, but she was kind of a killjoy like Greg.

“I don’t think you’re supposed to push your belly out, Beth,” she said. “Pretty sure you’re supposed to suck it in.”

I asked her if she wanted to feel the baby kick.

She didn’t.

And then she said people — especially modern, American women — don’t take pleasure in having a baby belly when there’s, you know, no real baby inside it. I disagreed, and I mentioned all of the beautiful projects out there like the 4th Trimester where women proudly show their bellies because those bellies MADE PEOPLE. Stretch marks are tiger stripes and all that! “I’m in good company,” I told her. And she said, “Yeah, but they’re talking about deep-seated images of beauty in our culture and changing how we view women and honoring all people well. You’re just sticking your belly out because you think your big belly and having gas are hilarious.”

In conclusion, I think I’m doing anti-body-shaming wrong. On the other hand, if anyone wants to feel the baby kick, I’m your girl.

With love,

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P.S. Kudos to all of you growing actual babies on your belly selfies. Getting a shot of me and not the dressing room wall was really hard. No one took belly selfies 9 years ago, the last time I was pregnant. We had it easy, man. EASY.

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P.P.S. I bought the pink dress.

P.P.P.S. I also bought Spanx, because Both/And, friends. Both/And.

P.P.P.P.S. On a note unrelated to my belly, I run a writing retreat with some incredibly rad writing professor friends of mine. It’s called the Magic in the Mess Writing Retreat, and we just released dates for 2016. You can find all the info here if you’re interested!

P.P.P.P.P.S. I once wrote something a little more poignant about my belly. It’s called This is My Body, Sacred and Scarred. Just in case you need to purge your mind after this one.