A button popped off my pants this morning, hitting the ground with a soft, delicate bounce that hardly made any noise, however, considering my reaction, it might as well have fallen with a thunderous, hollow boom.
Following about five weeks of weight gain, too tight pants are hardly an unexpected outcome. However, the single displaced button represents a fact that I can no longer deny: My body is getting bigger.
Sadly, I have mixed emotions about this sudden growth spurt.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m ecstatic that my baby is continuing to grow and develop. If I’m on track, our 21-week-old Suga’ Booger is about 11 inches and weighs about a pound. In a few weeks—if not sooner—my belly will probably begin to take on that noticeably cute “roundness” that pregnant women love to flaunt.
I’m excited for the transition.
However, the part of me that allows society’s influence to creep in and manipulate my thoughts on weight and beauty has rebelled against this new, strange, fuller body.
When I’ve put on a few pounds in the past, I can get it off quickly by eating less calories and exercising more. But when I step on the scale now, I have to just watch it tick upward, pound after pound and tell myself this is a good sign. This is normal. This is healthy.
I have to override my brain’s oh-shit mechanism and tell myself that every ounce of new body fat is nature’s way of giving me the ability to provide nutrients to my child. But unfortunately, I’ve adapted to society’s preoccupation with thinness, and can only see my physical self as an ever-growing blob of pale skin and freckles.
Apparently, this oh-so-slight obsession runs rampant in our society.
“Traditionally, one of the few times that the rules surrounding ideal female bodies were suspended was during pregnancy and the postpartum period,” writes Lisa O’Malley in her paper Does My Bump Look Big in This. However, she argues that our current society’s obsession with images of pregnant women—who, for the most part, happen to adhere to a particular ideal (celebrities)—has led to the “erosion of pregnancy as a period of grace, with a resulting increase in the pressure on women to conform to ideal pregnant body types.”
“As a result,” she writes, “the representation of the pregnant body in the media has a profound impact on how society regards the female body and how women experience their pregnancies.”
I find comfort in knowing that I’m not alone—that other women see an X-pound weight gain and want to run to the gym for a two-hour sweat session. However, I also feel cheated. As a pregnant female, my body is taking on the most sexual form of its life. So why don’t I find myself sexy?