So, I’m standing in line at Costco. If you’ve never done this, let me just say it is an experience in and of itself. You stand in a line 5 or 6 people deep, and there are 15 or so lanes so it feels a bit like I imagine cattle feel being herded into a pen. Long story short, I am already a little cranky, as is 18 month old E in the sling with me. The guy behind me leans around me and does that annoying ask-the-baby-a-question-the-mom-is-supposed-to-answer thing. He smiles broadly and says, “So. Are you having a little brother, or a little sister??”
My eyes widen as I think to myself, not only does this guy think I’m pregnant, he thinks I am far enough along that I know what I’m having?! What the WHAT?!
I say nothing. After all, he didn’t address me. I can pretend this isn’t happening.
“Huh? Little girl? Are you getting a brother, or a sister?”
Crickets. I mean seriously. Hasn’t this guy ever seen tv? You never assume a woman is pregnant, especially a stranger in a grocery store line.
Finally he addresses me rather impatiently, “Well? What are ya having?”
Ok, that’s it. I’m throwing this guy under the bus. He needs to learn to never do this to another woman again. I clear my throat, look him directly in the face, and say in my most projecting tone of voice, “Sir, I am not pregnant.”
15 lines of people 5 or 6 deep all stop what they are doing to turn and stare incredulously at the poor shmoe who will hopefully have learned from this moment.
I share this story to let you know that what I am about to tell you is not in my head.
I don’t have a flat stomach.
I feel the need to mention this because it’s come up several times in the past few weeks.
“Oh, well it’s easy for you, you have such a cute little figure!”
“I wish I had your flat stomach!”
I think there are two reasons for people assuming I have a flat stomach:
1. I have learned to dress for my (new*) body type.
It took me a little bit to get this down. See above re: Costco guy.
When I went shopping for first new clothes soon after my second child was born, I went out of frustration because there wasn’t anything in my closet that both fit me and didn’t have some sort of bodily fluid on it. The twenty year old helping me nodded sympathetically as I told her of my lack of clean clothing and jumped at the chance to just “help me find something that will make me feel a little pretty.” I was trying on a very cute top that I was pleased with. “Yeah, that one’s really good at camoflauging…whatever…” she remarked, trying very hard not to look at my hips and post partum belly.
“Well, I’m not going hunting, so I don’t need camoflauging. But I do think this is flattering.” I ended up buying the shirt, but I stand by the idea of having no need for camoflauge. I think it’s a mistake to look for clothes that will “hide” the parts of me that I don’t want seen because I think they are ugly.
It is realistic to understand that my body is changing. Looking honestly at what I’ve got now allowed me to search for clothing that was cut very differently than what I would have worn before. I go looking for clothes that flatter the parts of me I like the best. Putting such a positive spin on clothes buying can sometimes be the difference between crying in the dressing room and spinning in front of the mirror.
*UPDATE: It’s come to my attention that “dressing for your body type” means something else to a lot of people. It means “people who look like this don’t get to wear that.” THIS IS NOT WHAT I MEAN. I am talking about wearing what you are going to feel good about wearing. There was a meme that went around last summer that proclaimed, “Best way to get a bikini body: put a bikini on your body.” YES. That.
2. I don’t complain all the time about not having a flat stomach.
I think there is this unwritten rule among women that if you don’t look a certain way you are supposed to be angsty about it. Also you’re supposed to talk about it so other people know that you know you don’t look your best, and then we can all hate our bodies together.
So I present, for your information, what I look like trying to fit into my pre-baby style. This shirt used to go down to my jeans. Which were three sizes smaller. It happens.
And here’s what I look like now; after assessing what I actually look like and deciding that I love it (warts and fake baby-bump and cowlick all).
I wanted to show you this because every time a mother tries to wish away her body, she desecrates the sacred space where her children were knit together. Every time a woman defiles her appearance with hateful words, she paints graffiti on the artwork of God. And I’m done with that.
Special thanks to Audrey of Bustafeltz designs for taking these pictures. Having a photographer friend you trust enough to invite into the awkward space of photographing you while you are talking about body image is really great. 🙂
What a lovely article. I am slowly finding myself in the same space. I am a mother and my body reflects that.
Love this! Thank you for sharing your Costco story. Your photos are beautiful!
Great piece 🙂
Your new style announces you. The first photo was just of some clothes… not that you need another stranger commenting on your appearance, but I just feel the confidence you’re describing shooting out from the photos.
When I lived in Mexico, I was frequently asked if I was pregnant. I chalk part of this up to Mexico’s general obsession with babies, but part of it was that although I’m a rather tiny person, I’ve always had a potbelly.
One of my favorite things a man has ever said came out of my friend Ryan’s mouth: “There’s nothing sexier than a little belly on a woman, if she know how to wear it proudly.”
Great post! So relateable and honest! Thanks for giving us permission to accept our bellies and bodies!
Call me useless, but I think you “look” beautiful in all three images, even in those old clothes that you let go of. Need to know: How did Costco Guy react to your proclamation? Another come back to him could be, “I’m pregnant with instructive ways to respond to ignorance and tastelessness…”
He said, “…Oh…..” and looked like he wanted to crawl under the cart. I almost felt badly for him….almost.
Also thanks. 🙂