I love this weekly event because it's a great celebration of what everyone is going through and an appreciation of the amazing feat that our bodies are accomplishing. We're making new humans for fuck's sake! That's incredible.
What makes me sad is that a number of women have mentioned that while they're happy to post to our Facebook group full of fellow moms who are all due in the same month, they would never dream of sharing their bumpies on their public pages. Even sadder, some of the ladies don't even want to post to our thread even though we have a very solid diversity of body types already represented and I've only ever seen kind supportive statements in response to all the bump pictures.
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think the women who don't wish to post their pictures are doing the wrong thing for not sharing their photos publicly, and I totally understand their reasons for keeping these pictures to themselves/our lovely and accepting group of soon to be moms.
The part that makes me sad is that we live in a society where I can understand why women don't want to share pictures of themselves on the internet, especially while pregnant. That's the fucked up part. The part where there are people in the world who judge your body harshly any time you show it publicly. The part where people feel that not only are they free to judge your body, but that they feel free to make you feel bad about your body. And, especially, the part where that judgement is far more heavily applied to women than to men.
All of that angers and saddens me.
Why does anyone care what my body looks like? Why does anyone care what anyone's body looks like?
To quote Erin McKean: You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female.”
And yet, isn't that how many of us feel most of the time? Like we owe pretty to the world?
Why do we seem to feel that it's not ok to share pictures of ourselves when we're not looking our best? Why are we ashamed every time we think we've fallen short of society's beauty standards? Why do we obsess over numbers on a scale or the tags on our jeans?
It's funny, I haven't weighed myself anywhere but the doctor's office for about 10 years now and I have to say it's been pretty damned freeing. I judge my health by how long I can run without getting out of breath, by how limber I feel, and how many pull ups I can do or how hard I can climb, and only once a year do I ever discover how much mass my body contains (as exerted on by earth's gravity).
But even still, I'm not immune to feeling like I need to edit my appearance. I took four versions of the selfie posted above and only posted the most flattering.
And I've still found that pregnancy has made me way more self conscious about my body. I hate that there are clothes that I own that don't look good on me anymore, that I can't fit into my tight jeans, that my flat stomach is long gone (and I may or may not ever get it back post-baby), that my boobs are actually bigger than I want them to be, etc. etc. etc.
I feel like I shouldn't care about any of this, but I do anyway. The feminist in me cringes every time I assess my own looks... and then there are moments where I think, "actually, I look pretty hot for a pregnant lady." But even that is a judgement that isn't worth making. Hot for a pregnant lady? Why does that even register as a thing I should think about?
I'm making another human, who cares what I look like?
More importantly, I'm a human being, complicated, with flaws, but ever striving to improve myself... I write books, I run long distances, I read a lot, I climb mountains and cliffs, I travel, I play with my dog, I try to make people smile, I try to understand others' perspectives, I try to be kind, I make things with my hands, I try to be generous, I swim, I adventure, I explore, I am curious, I ponder things...
WHY THE FUCK DOES IT MATTER WHAT I LOOK LIKE? To me or to anyone else...
I would argue, as Erin McKean does, that none of us owes pretty to anyone. If you want to strive for pretty because it makes you happy, go for it, but it's not something you should feel obliged to do. And whether or not you hit that arbitrary and ever shifting mark should never make you doubt your self worth, or your place in the world. You are more than your looks. So if your looks aren't living up to other people's expectations feel free to tell those other people where they can shove it. And, in the meantime, enjoy the hell out of being you. You've earned it.
In celebration of being me, I ate a large domino's pizza entirely by myself this week. I ate the cookie too, and I have zero regrets. Zero.