I realize that I wasn’t deathfat when I was pregnant; I was at the high end of normal, but even so, gaining so much weight in nine months was scary. I worried about my baby being healthy, but I also thought about each pound having to come back off.
I never had weight issues as a child-quite the opposite. I was all knees and elbows, thin as a rake, and didn’t break 100 pounds until I was in high school. But after moving out at 14, working a few crappy full-time jobs at once, I started eating my feelings in the form of piles of fried rice and french fries. I didn’t stop until I was obese, and then worked my ass off for about two years to get to get down to a healthy weight. I changed my entire lifestyle to get fit, and being fit in turn changed my entire life: I wore what I wanted, I climbed mountains, I snowboarded, I did all this amazing shit I never thought I could when I was fat.
See? Life IS better for skinny people!
At the midwives’ clinic, every weigh-in was a triumph, as well as another pin in the ratty Voodoo doll of my confidence. At the supermarket, I can’t help but glance through all the glossies that show women who lost their baby weight in a month. A week! A few days! BEFORE THEY HAD THEIR BABY. Some women ate nothing and had no babies and they are so thin that people are losing their goddamn minds over it. All of them blurred together into one bronzed demon that clung to my back and demanded I eat less carbs.
I had my kid in the middle of the apocalyptically dark Alaskan winter. Temperatures often dip below negative 30 degrees, and the sun is above the horizon for a just a few measly hours a day. After having a hard labour and the lingering medical fuckery of septicemia, I didn’t go skiing. I didn’t lift weights. I didn’t go out much at all. I tried to take care of myself, and part of that was eating really well. Slowly, steadily, the pounds started peeling off, and I was totally ecstatic to lose the weight.
Me. I’m going to be ME again.
I knew that carrying a giant baby human around in my body would change it; I felt my skin split at 38 weeks. My boobs overtook my entire body with their magnificence. I peed everywhere and was always hungry. And even though I knew that life wouldn’t be the same after I gave birth, I clung to the hope that I could at least get my own body back from the veiny lumps of pale flesh it’d become. I’d admire him while he slept, my stomach pouched over the side of his crib like a doughy marsupial. Of course it’s worth it, stupid.
The scale ticked down each pound, and every few weeks I’d try again to squeeze into the most forgiving pair of pants I owned from before I was pregnant. Almost there. Another two weeks and I’ll be me again.
But when I arrived at my pre-pregnancy weight, the pants still didn’t fit. Neither did the vintage dresses. Boho blouses hung like trash bags from my enormous boobs. Getting dressed one morning, I tried on four pairs of early-pregnancy pants, and each pair squeezed my body with a python-grip. I tore all four of them in half. The seams popped pleasingly, easily, almost. Fuck these pants right to hell! If I can’t wear them I don’t goddamn need them! I looked up from my task, and my husband was frozen in the doorway, his eyes like saucers. He did the best thing he could, which was back away slowly and say nothing. Sometimes I just need to destroy the things that cross me.
I weighed the same, but everything had been re-arranged. I look like a bag of old laundry. I ate right, I was active, I was a great mother (obviously) and my body betrayed me. My midwives. My friends that toted around their giant children with spindly arms and svelte stomachs. The glossies with their hot dog-coloured women who simply ‘chased their children around’ to get back into shape. I threw everyone that had even breathed a word of ‘post-pregnancy body’ under a bus. Their houses were probably all spotless, too. Fuckers.
I felt stupid that it mattered. At least my child was healthy. At least I was healthy. But I had worked so hard to get to where I was, only to give it up along with everything else. I got new clothes. I closeted the vintage dresses and replaced them with flannels and torn jeans. Minis were switched for maxis, and anything with cleavage was tossed. My style could be described as Kurt Cobain-esque. Except with a bolder lip. I feel at home in roomy jeans; there’s a certain sexiness about a big sweater and leggings. Instead of focusing on what I don’t feel comfortable in, I put more effort into my hair and makeup. It makes me happy, and I seriously don’t give any shits about impressing anyone else with my non-existent waist anyways.
I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day, when a middle aged woman with a grip of children fighting in her cart, leaned forward and said “Excuse me, this might be a bit personal, but…”
Sugarlump, let me stop you right there. If you say that sentence to a stranger, you had better be drunk, because otherwise, you are being an asshole.
But because I’m too meek to actually say anything, I was like “Unghhh?” and for some reason feigned interest by raising my eyebrows and smiling.
“Just because you have a child, doesn’t mean you have to hide your body.” She attempted eye contact, which I declined. “ You should be proud. A woman’s body is a beautiful thing, it changes so much, and it’s still the most beautiful thing that God’s created!” She beamed at me. She meant it.
“Well, uh, maybe, just because you have kids too doesn’t mean you, like, have to tell..other..women…how to feel.” I managed to whisper back, because I’m not great at comebacks. Which made for an awkward next 15 minutes in the ‘Family Friendly’ line.
Thanks random asshat lady, I need to be “proud of my post-partum body”. Nevermind, I just won’t wallow in self-pity and rip pairs of jeans in half like Macho Man Randy Savage. Derp, I thought all these feelings I had were valid. Lolz. My mistake.
I thought I’ll just process my own shit in my own way, and if that means I’m going to dress like Sir Digby Chicken Ceasar for awhile, then that’s my choice. Maybe that’s what makes me feel beautiful at this given point. I know it’s a ‘problematic’ mentality to have, but I’m not proud of my chub-rub or stomach pouch, and that’s fine with me. I’ve accepted them as part of my body, and that’s good enough for me at the moment.
But maybe instead, I’ll be That Girl that Wears a Bikini at Inappropriate Times (Nana’s wake-whatever, it was summer!). I’ll be Magda-tan, and when people ask WTF that gross waddle of skin on my abdomen is, I’ll just shake it at them, while giving them the sign of the beast and screech “I CARRIED A CHILD IN THIS BODY AND HE IS GOING TO BE PRESIDEEEEENNNTT!” in the voice of the lead singer of Ensiferum, and then howl like a wolf, so they know I’m serious.
‘Cause I’m a feminist, ladies and gentleman.
(Image: getty images)